Published on September 11, 2019 by Lauren Wade

University students in a lecture

Nerves, excitement, new faces, new places – navigating your way through your first law lecture can be a daunting feeling. That’s why one of our contributors, Natasha Spencer, has put together a first-hand account of that very experience and why there is really no need to worry or panic!

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1. Goodbye School and College, Hello Uni!

It’s true that there is a distinct difference between college and university. While at college, I remember giggling nervously at the fact I got to call my teacher by their first name and wear my ‘I Love NY’ t-shirt every day if I wanted to. At uni, that was magnified as there an air of complete freedom and excitement.

When I look back, I think that stemmed from being able to throw myself into a subject that I loved, that challenged me, and that I’d worked hard at during A-levels.

I was ready to delve in, almost immediately – I knew how rewarding it was going to be. The only shock: the sheer number (and thickness!) of books I then needed to house in halls, but we’ll come to that.

Stepping into a New World

So, having got into university, passed the LNAT and managed to pack all of my belongings into the car, I was ready to find my lecture theatre and see what my first taste of law at university had in store for me.

Housed in a prestigious building separate from the rest of the main subjects on campus, I found out two interesting things: not all of the 300-odd students in the room got the AAB stated – I was one of them and panicked all summer thinking I’d lose my place, but it’s not a disadvantage if you’ve never studied law before.

I remember feeling equal waves of reassurance and confusion. Yet, it soon made sense. I learned that in order to excel in the various llb modules, I would need to strip my knowledge back to basics to build it up again.

Just like how the way we answer exam questions at school differs from college; the methods taught at uni do too.

Venturing Onto the LLB

The LLB, or the Latin Legum Baccalaureus, as it is officially known, which translates to Bachelor of Laws, is the actual degree classification.

It is adopted by the majority of universities in the UK to ensure that students can move smoothly onto a Legal Practice Course (LPC) for prospective solicitors or Bar Professional Training Course for prospective barristers.

In the first year of your law degree, you go from either having no formal legal education, or concentrating on one area of the law intensely during your A-level year (in my college it was either contract or criminal law) to learning five core modules.

These five modules include:

  • Constitutional and Administrative law
  • Criminal law
  • Contract law
  • Legal Methods
  • English Legal System

These modules make up a total of nine compulsory modules that you need to take to complete the qualifying part of your law degree in England and Wales.

Your first law lecture will give you a clear overview of what to expect, and what the university expects from you in terms of your dedication during lectures and seminars.

Outside the Lecture Hall

You’re also likely to learn about all the other opportunities available to you to enable you to maximise your time at university.

Doing this in your first year is a great way to soak up as much knowledge and you can and make friends with other law students.

Legal departments often team up with careers departments to put on specific events. These range from those that:

  • Help you understand the numerous roles within the profession
  • Give information on work experience opportunities to progress your career
  • Hold informal chats or Q&As with alumni to gauge how best to get the most out of your law degree and time at university

Learning all about mooting and debating is a must too. Unique to your law degree, mooting enables you to learn and develop specific legal skills, including research, evaluation and public speaking, as well as presenting, debating and listening to arguments.

Onto the Books

You quickly learn how much information there is to digest, analyse and feedback during your future lectures and seminars. It’s a good idea to take a backpack into that obligatory first visit to the bookshop, as any law student will tell you that you’ll have hundreds of pages to carry back to halls.

During your first lecture, you will get a reading list detailing the main textbooks and recommended reading materials to buy for the year ahead, including case laws and journals.

You will also get direction on specific introductory reading information. The texts on this list will set the scene on core legal concepts, which will help you to build a strong foundation from the start of your degree.

In addition, your lecturers will likely recommend that you keep up to date with current affairs, including the latest legal cases and the news to support your understanding and discussions during lectures and seminars.

As the legal arena is multifaceted, by adopting this approach, students will gain a solid understanding of how the law is shaped from paper to the courts, and the implications of this in the real world.

Ahead of your first law lecture, you’ll likely be full of anticipation and apprehension (I know I was!). Yet after learning about what your law degree will entail, I hope you will be full of energy and passion – and eager to read up before your second lecture.

Words: Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

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