Birmingham Uni law grad and future trainee Jemina Kauppinen offers her top tips to degree success as students across the country receive A-Level results
I recently graduated in law from the University of Birmingham. Now looking back, I want to give you some key points I wish I knew before starting my LLB three years ago.
1. Work smart
Your first lectures may seem overwhelming with legal jargon, case names and masses of information. Do not panic, there is no need to copy down notes word for word. If you have access to slides or lecture handouts, it’s good to look at the main concepts before the lecture. You will likely develop your own method of notetaking, so don’t be afraid to experiment in the beginning! It’s all about the quality of notes and what works for you.
2. Preparing for seminars is crucial
When I started my law degree, I was told to prepare for seminars a few days in advance. Though in first year I got away with less preparation, seminars became more demanding as my degree went on. Soon I learnt how difficult being picked on by the seminar leader is when you haven’t prepared properly. Expect to be challenged and take preparation seriously.
3. Schedule time for independent study
Your schedule of lectures and seminars might let you think you have loads of spare time. Don’t be fooled by this! You need to also dedicate time for reading, revision and research. You may also put time aside to complete application forms for graduate jobs and catching up with news stories. Simply attending lectures and seminars is not enough if you want to do well in your degree.
4. Pay attention to referencing
If you are ever researching anything, make a note of your sources. You do not want to be searching for the exact quote you cited a day before coursework is due, it just adds to the stress. Make sure you learn how to reference from the beginning, as it will save a lot of time later. If you have access to a referencing guide, use it.
5. Make use of the careers service
University is not just about learning facts, it’s also about preparing for life after your degree. Your university will likely have a careers service, and your law school may have law-specific resources. Making use of these resources is likely to help you find employment. It is also a good idea to take part in any employability courses or competitions offered by your university. Finding a job after your degree can be a struggle, so make use of what the university offers to improve your employability whilst you can.
6. Join societies
Societies are a great way to meet people both in the law school and outside it. I’d also recommend trying to become a committee member so that when employers ask about your positions of responsibility and leadership abilities, you have specific examples to refer to! University societies can also make a real difference, participating in pro bono was one of my favourite experiences during my degree.
7. Stay positive
Law school is a very competitive environment with students competing over work experience and graduate positions. Seeing everyone as competition creates a negative environment and prevents you from making connections and learning from each other. Instead of racing to be the first to get that training contract, take time to reflect on the type of career you want. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Jemina Kauppinen is an events coordinator at Legal Cheek and future trainee solicitor. She studied law at the University of Birmingham before joining Legal Cheek in June 2021.