As September is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for university or law school. Here are 10 tips for preparing for law school.
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Usually reading lists will be divided into essential and optional texts. Essential books will be the ones that are recommended for the course, these will typically be the ones lecturers use to set your weekly reading. Make sure you purchase every recommended text as you will need it throughout the course.
When it comes to optional purchases, I would wait until the course starts to find out which ones are worth purchasing. It might be that you understand certain books better than the recommended ones.
Everyone knows that buying stationary can be quite the guilty pleasure. Pens, pencils, folders, felt tips, highlighters, folders, dividers. It was always such a great way to get ready for the new school year.
For law, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate stationary in advance to make your life easier. I recommend starting by setting up a simple pencil case with the bare essentials. Then see what modules you’ll be studying and purchase a folder for each of them. At my university we studied 4 modules in first year, so I purchased 4. I separated lectures/topics with coloured dividers, something I also recommend doing.
Next, go about purchasing notepads that can fit into your folders, so you always have paper. Once you’ve got the essentials, get some highlighters and/or felt tips to help you markup cases, journal articles or other paper resources you’ll be given. This will help prepare you for the work ahead.
Tip #3- Get some work experience
Law school can seem like a daunting place, some students might lose sight of why they are there when the pressure increases. Try finding some work experience in a legal setting. Not only is work experience good for your CV, but it will also equip you with essential skills and motivate you.
Your course will be so much more than is advertised on a course page. Find the law school handbook for the previous year and have a read. You will be surprised with just how much information you can find. At my law school, the handbook contained information on exams, writing essays, specific details on modules and the code of conduct for students amongst other things. This will help prepare you for what is to come.
Tip #5- Read some introductory texts
You probably started this when writing your personal statement. Introductory texts can provide you with a useful insight into law school, the law itself and critical perspectives. By reading these, you can gain a better insight of what you’re in for. ‘Letters to a Law Student’ is a great text for this.
Tip #6- Read a piece of academic work
Having done this, when I started law school, it didn’t feel like a massive jump since my A Levels involved research. Use Google Scholar and type in a phrase like ‘criminal law’ and click on a journal article. Once you find one, see if you can identify the arguments presented by reading the introduction, conclusion and topic sentences as opposed to the whole thing. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Tip #7- Set up a Linkedin profile
Linkedin is a social network that allows you to connect with people you meet such as lawyers, academics, teachers and so on. Before you start, set up your own profile and include details about work experience, your education and key skills. When you attend networking events at law school, you will be much more professional if you have a Linkedin for people to connect with you on.
Although first year doesn’t count towards your degree, vacation schemes in your second year will use first year results to filter out applicants. So, try and achieve the best grades you can. Spend some time before law school learning about different ways people learn. As law is a very case heavy subject, learn about things like mind mapping, flashcards and the Cornell note taking method. These will help you figure out how to hit the ground running when you start law school.
Tip #9- Purchase a railcard
As a student, a rail card will be very useful. If you commute by train, it can save you a lot of money each year. In addition, if you want to attend networking events and insight days it will come in handy too. This is in my opinion an essential.
Tip #10- Enjoy the summer beforehand
There’s only so many law-related things you can do to prepare for law school before you burn out. Enthusiasm is good, but you need enough passion and enthusiasm to sustain you throughout your degree. Spend your time before you start wisely.