For many students, the first year of university is often expected to be one that is full of freshers’ parties, alcohol, and very little in the way of studies.
However, it is also the best time to make the most of networking prospects, work experience and university opportunities.
If you are seriously considering a future within the legal industry it is vital that you make the most of this chance to impress prospective employers with your extracurricular activities and wide talent base.
The following points will give you some direction for this coming September when you begin your first year of law studies.
Freshers’ Week Networking
This is an exciting time; you’re living independently, you can meet people from all around the world who are studying with you, and there is always a party going on somewhere!
This is also the only time at university that you won’t have extensive reading lists, essay deadlines, or exams looming.
Making the most of Freshers’ week means talking to everyone you meet, making new friendships, networking with other students who aren’t studying law, getting to know your way around a new city, joining lots of societies, and having some fun before the work starts.
Many students lack the foresight to realise that in order to get ahead of the game, you must start in your first year of law school.
Apply yourself to your studies from the outset, and look for work experience opportunities.
Form good habits with your workload (don’t leave everything until the night before a deadline), take extensive notes, hand coursework in on time, and read everything available to you.
There are some excellent ways to progress your career and promote yourself outside of your studies; internships, open days, legal events, training workshops, vacation schemes, and so on.
Your university will also have a careers service who are worth visiting and will help you with questions relating to work experience, training schemes and so on.
University Law Society
Joining your university’s law society is essential. They organise professional and social events for law students and those studying other subjects.
It is the perfect place to network with other students, including those who are in their second and third year, meaning you can gain from their knowledge and experience, and also local law firms who are often invited to events.
Your CV can benefit from credentials such as these, and your communication skills will be put to good use. Lawyers require a multitude of talents ranging from networking abilities to creativity so use this time to tune your skills.
First Year law Schemes
Applying for, and attending, first year law schemes shows prospective employers your commitment to a law career, while helping you gain some business awareness.
Applications can be protracted due to the competitive nature of schemes but are worth taking the time to complete.
A good way of increasing your chance of success is to arrange mock interviews and tests with your university’s career consultants. They can also help you with your application or covering letter. This will help you to finalise your CV and increase your confidence.
Students who attend law fairs have an excellent opportunity to try out their networking abilities, developing their business acumen and other necessary ‘soft skills’, which are required within the legal industry.
The information garnered from law fairs can help you to build information about specific firms that interest you and can give that vital first point of contact. Many application forms ask what first attracted you to the firm. Giving an answer that involves a member of their team that you met a fair the previous year, is a great way to name-drop and shows long-term interest.
It is important to realise that amid all the societies, parties, fairs, extra-curricular activities and general university life, that your law degree should take priority over almost everything else.
However, taking on too much in a short space of time can lead to burn-out, depression and feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you have a little ‘down-time’ once in a while, eat well and indulge in a relaxing pastime if this helps you relieve some your stresses.
Learning to manage your time is an integral part of becoming a successful lawyer, so creating a good routine early on in your studies will help establish a pattern that can serve you throughout your career.