Welcome to our First Issue!
After a few bumps on the road, here we are!
I am Domenica, your Digital Content & Magazine Editor and I am extremely excited and proud to be re-introducing the Law Society Magazine.
Being the biggest society on campus, we care about all of our members individually and want to provide each one of you a space in which you can channel your inner writer to share anything thoughts you have about the law, tips, and experiences!
You don’t have to be a professional journalist or an academic to write for us, just a student with passion and something to say. So, if this is you: get in touch and get involved!
So, if this is you: get in touch and get involved! If I were to give you a piece of advice, this would be: don’t be the person that reaches the end of their degree and thinks of all the things they could have done. Be the one that looks back and proudly thinks they made the most of their time at University.
This being said, enjoy this first issue!
Law School: Expectations vs Reality – by Olivia Ward
Studying Law at university is definitely not like anything you studied in school, but everyone has an idea about what it will be like. Of course, our expectations won’t always be correct. Here are some of my expectations compared to reality.
Expectation: Law will be super interesting
You read all the university prospectus front to back, you know exactly what options you want to take next year, and you’re no longer studying A Levels you were never that interested in. Law will be great!
Reality: Some things you will hate, others you will love.
Whilst I can wholeheartedly say I love my degree, I’d be flat out lying if I said I always found it interesting. For me, public law only got interesting at the very end of second term and I’m still not sure I ever really ‘got’ contract law; but equally I absolutely loved my optional modules in second year. Unlike some other degrees, Law is incredibly varied and what you learn in one module probably won’t be relevant to the others you study, so if you aren’t enjoying what you’re studying right now, you will soon. Stick with it!
Expectation: The lectures will be old men and/or scary and unapproachable.
As a traditional subject, Law brings about some connotations of old men with big brains who don’t care too much about their students. Its sink or swim in the real world, so might as well start now.
Reality: This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Sure, that talk in Fresher’s Week is terrifying, but (I’m pretty certain) it’s designed to just get you to do some work! The lecturers in the Law School are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and its their job to help you if you’re struggling. Sure, they might not appreciate getting the same question asked 100 times, (especially if the answer is in the handbook!) and might get annoyed if you haven’t done ANY of the reading for the seminar, but if you’ve put in some effort they’re happy to meet you halfway.
Expectation: Everyone is your competition
Its drilled into you from day 1, but you probably knew this before. There’s almost twice as many law students as there are legal traineeships in England and Wales, didn’t you know? You can’t trust anyone.
Reality: Everyone is your competition, but you’ll get further with some help
Just because in a few years’ time, you might be applying for the same jobs as the person next to you, doesn’t mean you can’t help each other now. You’ll both be better off for it. My advice is to make as many friends as you can; you don’t know who’ll swap points with you for that piece of coursework or who else will be cramming in the library at 1am. It also might just be nice to have someone to walk to lectures with.
Expectation: You will spend your life in the library reading
Just one look at the first-year reading list is enough to give any student anxiety. Especially if you thought it had to be done before the first lecture! With all that to do, surely there’s no time to go out or do some sports?
Reality: You will spend most of your time reading, but you can definitely still go out
There’s no way around it, there is a lot to read. But, if you find you’re spending 12 hours a day in the library something is definitely going wrong – especially if you’re still in first year. After the first couple of weeks, you’ll have speed reading down to a T and (hopefully) have found some reliable friends to split the reading with. Even if you haven’t you will definitely have figured out which parts of the essential reading aren’t essential for the seminar – just don’t forget to read it before the exam!
University shouldn’t be all work and no play; employers look for more than just good grades, they like to employ interesting people. And, to be frank, doing nothing but studying is draining. So go out, try something new and don’t spend all day worrying about the reading.
Conversely, Expectation: You can go out every night, all year; first year doesn’t matter anyway
There’s always a few who think you can coast by doing the bare minimum. Lectures aren’t compulsory and first year doesn’t count, so who cares how do you? 40% is still a pass, right?
Reality: Your first-year grades will probably come back to bite you.
By no means, am I saying you can’t go out and do well (I mean I went out three times a week), BUT your first-year grade will matter. Generally, the work habits and analytical skills you pick up in first-year will follow you throughout your degree and its rare for anyone with a third in First Year to come out with sparkling 1st at the end of their degree.
Moreover, I can’t tell you how many vacation scheme and mini-pupillage applications I’ve done that have not only asked for my first-year grade, but the break down in percentage for every single module.
So, whilst, one bad piece of coursework (probably in Public Law), won’t affect you long-term, you best get your average as high as you can from the start.
Expectation: You will get rich after you graduate
Everyone knows lawyers are rich and make tons of money, right?
Reality: You’ll be lucky if you have less than £40k debt
Once you’ve done your undergrad, you’ll have to complete the LPC or BPTC if you want to be a solicitor or barrister – so that will be another £15k. Sure you might get a sponsorship, but you’ll have to work hard to be on of those lucky few. Once you complete that, there’s still no guarantee of a traineeship. And even if you’re lucky enough to get one, salaries begin at £18,000.
I’ve heard becoming a lawyer is a rewarding profession, but if you’re looking to get rich quick, maybe try finance? They seem to like law students anyway.
To conclude, studying law probably won’t be anything like you imagined. It will be hard and sometimes boring but there are so many people looking to help you and it will definitely be one of the most rewarding things you will do in your life. So read up and then go grab that bev!
8 Things I Wish I Knew My First Year of University – by Justyna Golat
Starting university can be an overwhelming experience. The idea of settling in a new environment while juggling your studies with a part-time job, societies and still having a social life may seem daunting. Don’t worry these 8 tips from a third-year student will make your fresher’s life a lot easier.
Try something new
Joining societies is the best way to learn a new skill, make friends and boost your CV. With over 200 societies available, ranging from Model MUN through Pole Fitness to the Wine Society, you will surely find something right for you. Just remember to check if it doesn’t clash with your timetable!
Don’t be a stranger
Branch out – don’t limit yourself to hanging out with your flatmates only. Whether you’re more of an extrovert or an introvert, give socials a try. If you don’t drink or are already tired of Sugarhouse, there are plenty of alternatives including movie nights, quizzes and academic socials.
Make sure to attend career events
At this stage, career events may seem boring and unnecessary. Still, it is important to attend them at any opportunity. You will not only get a clearer picture of your future career path, expand your professional network and learn about all internship opportunities first-hand but also, you’ll leave the event with more freebies than you can carry.
Work out your budget early on. After going on a spending spree during fresher’s week, which we all experience, you don’t want to end up with an empty wallet by week 3. It is best to monitor your daily expenses and use all the student discounts and deals available. You may also want to look for a part-time job. It will make you more financially independent and it’s a great opportunity to meet people outside your immediate group of friends. Lancaster is a small town with limited vacancies so start applying as early as you can. You won’t find all job offers online so print out your CV and look for job postings in the windows or talk directly to the staff.
Home sweet home
Feeling homesick is completely normal. It doesn’t matter if you live in the North of England or in another part of the globe, we all miss our families and friends. Frequent Skype calls with your loved ones will definitely cheer you up. But if you’re still feeling down, think about all the wonderful opportunities and experiences you are getting in Lancaster. Don’t forget that you can always invite guests from back home. In case you experience a really bad case of homesickness, try talking it over with your friends or call Lancaster Nightline where your problem will be answered at any time of the day or night.
It was at university where I discovered that social media has an entirely new purpose. Becoming a part of the Facebook chats and groups for freshers will help you to keep up to date with all the events, socials and academic deadlines. While Twitter and LinkedIn are the best platforms to gain commercial awareness, talk to recruiters and connect with people from your professional network.
Let’s talk about food
When you discover that you cannot eat at Sultans and Wibbly Wobbly every day and that a diet based entirely on instant soups and noodles isn’t that great, the next step is to take a trip to Sainsbury’s. It can be extremely time-consuming and tiring. The best and most affordable alternative is to order food online from any of the nearby supermarkets directly to your accommodation. You will save time and money + if you order together with your flatmates the delivery will be cheaper than a bus ticket!
The most important thing is to relax and take it easy. University seems like a lot but in the end, it is you who should enjoy it. First year is supposed to be the time to make mistakes. It is completely fine if you end up changing your course, going through ten different societies or leaving and making new groups of friends. Everyone’s experience at university is different and unique. Make the most of your time here in your own way.
The Oxford Experience – by Kirsty Wright
After experiencing for the first time the gruelling first set of my law degree exams and in what some may call a delirious state after many hours spent with my head in a text book, I came to the decision that this one university experience was not enough. I decided to broaden my horizons and leave the ducks of Lancaster University and exchanged them for the beautiful architecture and buildings found at Oxford University. I set my sights on a summer school law course held at Oriel College at Oxford University, which despite having more exams for me to endure, appeared (and was) an amazing and life changing opportunity.
I came to the decision to embark on this academic adventure to one of the best universities globally in my realisation that during my first year of my law degree, and in my attempts to manage the work load and commuting to university (and trying to have a slight social life) that I was lacking in extra-curricular experience. This dawned on me and created a looming cloud of stress; each law student knows the pressures and importance of having as much experience as possible and knows the benefits of it. When coming to the realisation that my academic CV could do with a little boosting, I came to the answer of my problems; the summer break. This gave me an opportunity to do and involve myself with as much extra-curricular activities as possible without the stress accompanied with the continuous work of a law degree. Thus began my research and my finding of the summer law school programme of two weeks where I would study two modules and gain invaluable skills.
Receiving confirmation that I had been accepted onto the programme was a surreal experience but arriving at the university was even more so; being surrounded by such beautiful buildings and being in a place where such inspirational people had studied before me was a once in a lifetime experience. The summer school programme involved staying in the halls of accommodation; my room had a beautiful view and added to the surrealness. Whilst slightly daunting and feeling like a new born fresher again, I was overwhelmed with excitement to learn and gain skills in such an amazing place. For each week of the programme I studied one module; my first week was focused on International Trade and Maritime Law and my second on Medical Law and Ethics. These were modules that I had not yet had the opportunity to study and so it was an invaluable experience being able to learn about different areas of law. Whilst the modules were taught similarly to modules taught in a normal term time degree, after lectures and seminars debates and moots were held on the material we had just learnt. This allowed me to grow in confidence and really begin to improve my public speaking and debating skills.
The experience was invaluable; it allowed all my legal skills to be improved such as researching and debating but also allowed for me as a person to improve. I grew academically and personally. The programme allowed me to network and become friends with people all over the world all with different experiences of law. The programme also had some fun added to it such as trips and tours of the Houses of Parliament and the Supreme Court followed by formal dining and four course meals. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would encourage everyone to try and involve themselves in something similar as I will never forget the invaluable time I had.