10 rookie errors every first year law student must avoid

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Don’t dress like a lawyer

So, young fresher, you’ve nearly survived one month of law school.

Was it really only a month ago that your parents left you marooned on Freshers’ Island, with only an ASDA saucepan set, a fresh mattress protector and a new pair of slippers to get you by?

Life as a law student must be pretty sweet so far. Sure, it’s not as thrilling as a John Grisham legal novel and you’re still waiting for that Mike Ross-like photographic memory to kick in, but otherwise so far, so good. So what possibly could go wrong? Well, a lot of things.

To help you navigate the LLB-minefield, Legal Cheek has selected it’s top ten rookie mistakes that first year law students should avoid at all costs.

Don’t dress like a lawyer

Despite the temptation to take fashion tips from your favourite fictional legal icons — especially those from the legal TV drama literally named after corporate garb — don’t start rocking up to lectures like it’s your day in court. Ditch the three-piece and sling your stilettos because formal tailoring to the 9am land law lecture won’t help you secure those firsts.

Don’t be a total smart arse with your non-law mates

Just because your non-law peers may think you’re a lawyer, doesn’t mean you actually are. Your newly-learned Latin lingo and obscure case law won’t go very far outside of the law library; nor do your mates want to hear your analysis of Making A Murderer and whether Legally Blonde is an accurate depiction of law student struggles. For now, just stick to answering queries about gavels and whether Judge Rinder is actually a real judge. *Spoiler alert* He’s not!

Buying brand new textbooks

Seeing as freshers week has left you boracic, now is not the time to be buying brand new textbooks. Especially since all your parents can offer is their new-favourite reminder that ‘there is no magic money tree’. Rather than resort to annotating library books, quickly make use of second-hand textbook sales before it’s too late.

Forgetting to stock up on free merch

Speaking of money saving tricks, frugal freshers would be wise to stock up on their yearly stationery at law fairs. If you haven’t got at least a branded pen from each firm on our 2020 Firms Most List, are you even living the #merchlife?

Don’t print everything

Just because you can print and highlight everything you can get your hands on, doesn’t mean you should. Embrace the sustainable student lifestyle and avoid racking up hefty printing bills by reading judgments and journals on your laptop — it’s 2019 for Hale’s sake!

Mispronouncing the ‘v’ between case names

Side-step this first year faux pas and remember the v separating parties to a case is pronounced as ‘and’, rather then ‘versus’. You can thank us later.

Misspelling the word judgment

This one’s easy. Avoid this novice no-no by remembering it’s spelt judgment and not judgementor risk being judged for your lack of attention to detail.

Not getting involved in your law society

After a full day of lectures, library book hunting and seminar prep, avoid the urge to retreat to halls and binge How to Get Away With Murder over pesto pasta. Go get involved in your law society instead (a CV-must for any lawyer to be), especially if you want a decent shot at leadership when committee elections come around in spring.

Thinking first year doesn’t count

If you hear yourself repeating the rookie mantra ‘first year doesn’t count’, it’s time to re-evaluate. First year students hoping to impress future employers should perhaps prioritise late nights in the library over students’ union all-nighters.

Wasting networking opportunities

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If you’ve spent the duration of a networking event filling up on copious amounts of canapés and knocking back the free wine rather than actually speaking to people, you’ve gone about it all wrong. Get out there, press the flesh and find the answers to all your firm or chambers specific questions that the glossy brochures don’t provide.

Not seeking out first year opportunities

Rather than leave all the CV bulking to your future second and third year selves, why not start building up your legal experience now? Before deadline day creeps up on you, stay on top of upcoming first year schemes, open days and workshops using our 2020 Firms Most List and recently-refreshed Key Deadlines Calendar. You can download the Legal Cheek iPhone and Android apps to get key deadline notifications delivered straight to your phone.

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And don’t think practice will be as intellectually stimulating as your degree. I promise it won’t be.



Disagreed. I am a Projects solicitor and definitely think drafting a Project Agreement is much more stimulating than studying my undergraduate modules.



Whoever disliked this without explaining himself/herself probably find life boring and hope everyone else’s life is as boring as his/hers. Sorry, not the case.



Or perhaps they cannot think of anything more dreary than a Project Agreement?



Depends on the practice area. I do reg. advice which essentially is the same as doing problem questions on interpreting legislation and every bit as intellectually stimulating in practice if not more than it was at uni.


Kirkland NQ

Interesting that they chose a lecture theatre as the headline photo for this. I think I remember going into one once when I first started at Harvard but that’s it. I went straight to the ‘Land after being spotted by a scout and haven’t returned to campus since.


Latham NQ

How did the scout become aware of your prodigious talent for private equity work in the course of a first year lecture? (Not in law if this was first year at Harvard). I’d be grateful if you could outline the scene.


Weil NQ

Kirkland is not the only PE firm in the City


Freshfields NQ



Kirkland NQ

That’s true, but by the same token there are plenty of companies that sell fizzy drinks, but no one orders a “Vodka and cola”, right?






As a K&E employee, you seem to have a lot of time to kill. What’s your secret?


Kirkland NQ

Being a PE demi-god affords me the ability to smash a PE deal with one half of my brain, leaving the rest to do with as I wish, whether that is studying the works of Confucius, learning ancient Sanskrit to a conversational level, becoming a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu or posting on LC.



One last tip:

Don’t doss around being the class clown, or you’ll end up posting tired old meme gifs on a fourth rate legal gossip site rather than being a proper lawyer.


Not LC staff

And yet here you are…



Bet the author of this article is fun at parties.



Another tip – dont be an idiot or a douche



I’ve witnessed experienced counsel make two errors on this list; namely: Judgment & V



Not in England – V is ‘and’, Judgment not judgement.



Whoops, read that wrong! Apologies. Damn my crap scan reading.


Hugo van der Meer

Was this article written by an American? Whatever happened to the word novice or neophyte? Putting the word and between go get would improve diction immensely. What has happened to law students? Has law become Just another mcjob full of text spk and wkrs. I rest my case M’lud.



oh just shut up



Here’s a tip, 1.44. Do try to master capital letters and full stops. Their proper use does stop you coming across like an ignorant cretin.



Print as much as you want. I find it infinitely easier to read from paper than from a screen. Don’t be sustainable at the cost of 5% in your exam.


Scotland NQ

And if you’re in Scotland it’s against, not ‘and’ or ‘versus’.


Stuart loyalist

Since Bonnie Prince Charlie everything is always against Scotland.


Rebuild the Wall

Like Scousers, Sweaties are happiest when they are angry, have a grudge and are drunk.


Rebuild the Wall

SNQ, we really don’t care.


duffy power

er, and in criminal cases in England …??



The best tip? Sack it in. Do something more interesting as an undergrad. Most other humanities have lower grade requirements too, so you’ll likely get into a more “Rah Rah” university. Convert/sell your soul later.



I don’t think I followed a single one of these “tips” other than the stuff one learns in 2 minutes about “judgment ” and “it’s ‘and’ not ‘versus'”.

I printed everything because I wanted highlighting and post-its to remember stuff. And then I printed it again for the marked up version once I understood what is going on. In the scheme of things a folder a week of recycled paper makes no difference.

First year doesn’t count. It just doesn’t.

I did not do any networking or LawSoc schmoozing. They are a waste of night out unless you need to stock up on free wine talking to people who don’t want to be there. And if that is the aim, turn up with some mates, stand in a corner, chug the wine and slope off before you have to listen to any talks or presentations.


duffy power

Strictly speaking both spellings of judgment are correct in English but tends to be used without the extra ‘e’ in legal contexts.



v in a criminal context is “against”



It would be nice if someone would tell the BBC News editorial team how to spell “judgment” when referring to legal cases.


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