#26 How to survive law school

Posted by Elen Roberts

Yesterday (June 12th) was officially my last day on the GDL. My exams are over and I submitted my 4,000-word dissertation on defamation law an hour before the deadline – phew! I’ve survived the year – yipee! I use that verb because in all honesty, squeezing an entire LLB (undergraduate law degree) into one year was really tough. On the plus side, I’ve really enjoyed law as a subject and am even more convinced that here lies my dream career. That being said, if I could repeat the year, there are some things I would do differently. If you decide to study law (at whichever university), here are some tips for managing the workload:

  1. Don’t cram everything last minute. You just can’t do this with law and expect to get a good grade. Law is like maths and languages in the sense it’s based on building blocks of knowledge. In law if you don’t understand the basic concepts / cases of a module, you won’t be able to progress any further.
  2. Law is a bit different to other arts subjects in that you’ll have a standard textbook for each module. If you find that one textbook isn’t ‘working for you’ i.e. doesn’t help you understand the concepts, then switch it immediately. It may be a bit annoying having to spend a lot of money on a new textbook but you’ll be so glad you did it, as another writing style may shed the light on material that you previously found obscure.
  3. As a law student, you might also be applying round the clock for training contracts or pupillages. At times you’ll feel that you’re spreading yourself too thin and not doing justice to your studies or your job hunt! This can be a bit demoralising at times but remember, as long you organise your time effectively and set yourself deadlines, you’ll be ok!
  4. Even if you’re not athletic, consider taking up a sport as a student. Cardiff is a fantastic place to be active and appreciate the great outdoors. A sport can really help clear the cobwebs and make you concentrate better. Plus you’ll meet lots of new people.
  5. Don’t see your social life as a luxury; see it as something that is necessary to ensure balance during a tough year. Since last summer I’ve been so busy studying, working, applying for training contracts and networking with legal practitioners and firms, I haven’t made many new friends here. Obviously your grades and future career are very important but I’ve learned that having fun and meeting people actually makes you more productive in the long run!

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