Legal Cheek campus ambassador Rachel Arrouas reflects on her first few weeks at law school and offers up her top tips for success
Overwhelming and exciting. That’s the two words that best describe my first month at law school.
Managing between lectures, exams, societies, events, a social life and networking… Life as a law fresher is far from simple.
After the first month, though, students usually start to get an idea of how they want their year to be like — from organising their folders effectively to getting settled into the routine that works best for them. And if you’re still just figuring things out, that’s totally fine! Every law student is on their own journey and requires time to adjust — so don’t panic!
Here’s what I’ve learned from my first month at uni and I hope my experiences help others on their freshers’ journey.
Finding a routine really helps. Consistency counts at law school, so try to find a way of studying that works best for you. Create a realistic schedule and stick to it. With lots of brand new material to get your head around, the key is to work smarter, not harder.
First-year students are usually shy. But if you want to make the most out of your time at law school, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions and seek out help if needed. Step out of your comfort zone and get stuck into as much as you can!
Many law students regret not attending more law events, developing their LinkedIn and getting involved in societies during their first year. You should try to use your time well and create opportunities for you. For example, earlier this month, I had the chance to attend the Grow Mentoring Next Gen Summit, at which I was able to talk to trainees and the head of graduate talent at Clifford Chance who gave me some really useful pieces of advice for my first year at uni.
And in just a couple of weeks time, there is the November edition of the popular Legal Cheek Virtual Law Fair. You can sign up for it here.
Being a Legal Cheek Ambassador really helped me to get more involved with people in the legal sector, to familiarise myself with the many opportunities that are out there, and to connect with other like-minded students with whom I can share my experiences and hear more about what they’ve been getting up to.
It’s important that you make sure you create opportunities with those around you. Leave your comfort zone and ask students in other years for any advice they might have; they’ve been first-years before and know exactly what the do’s and the dont’s are.
I would also recommend developing your commercial awareness as early as possible. Get into a habit of using resources like the Financial Times and The Legal Cheek Journal to brush up on the key themes and topics impacting law and business whenever you have some free time.
But also be prepared to face challenges as you go — studying law is tough! According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, “mental health problems can affect a student’s energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism, hindering performance.” So always encourage yourself and look for the positives regardless of the situation. You’ve made it to law school! You should be so proud of yourself and feel confident that you’ve got this!
But do not sacrifice your health for your studies. Make sure that you sleep enough, eat healthy and drink lots of water. Don’t just lock yourself away in your room or the library but take little breaks like meeting up with friends, working out, or just going for a walk.
Recently, I discovered a new trick to make myself happier and less nervous: smiling. Your brain releases tiny molecules known as neuropeptides when you smile which can help you combat stress. Furthermore, I found that writing and keeping a journal helps me relax and put things into context, especially at times when I doubt myself or am nervous about trying something new.
I write down my thoughts and feelings in my journal and that really helps me to focus more on studying. It’s also useful for reflecting on how you’ve been doing for the past month and deciding what your goals for the next few weeks should be, as you work towards achieving your longer-term objectives and dreams.
Don’t think that doing all of these things are just a waste of time, because it’s the little things that can make the difference between a tired and overwhelmed law student and a productive and healthy one. I hope this has been helpful!
Rachel Arrouas is a first year law and criminology student at The University of Law. She is a Legal Cheek campus ambassador and content creator on social media.