A 'Day in the Life' of a second year law student - studying in Scotland
As a law student without any family or friends in the law profession, I was entering my studies very much in the dark. I knew the degree would be tough, however I had no idea what to expect. I hope that by sharing a ‘typical day in the life’ as a 2nd year law student at the University of Glasgow I can help some prospective law students in their transition to university.
Foremost, I would like to stress that this is my ‘ideal’ day. As a student, no two days are the same! In order to be successful in your studies, you have to find out what works for you.I have met so many law students who structure their studies in so many different ways. Whether it’s your grades, your answers in tutorials or your weekly timetable, I have learnt that one of the worst things you can do as a student is compare yourself to others. Be kind to yourself. As long as you put in the work, you will succeed. You have already accomplished so much by achieving a place at university, so believe in yourself and your abilities!
My experience of studying law has largely consisted of independent study. You have very little contact time, and your studies often revolve around reading, which is very different from school. For this reason, it is helpful for me to think of my studies as akin to a 9-5 job. I try to do my personal studying within this time alongside attending my classes. This means I can prioritise the weekends and evenings for ‘me time’. I would say this helped me greatly to ensure I had plenty downtime to recharge; however, this may not work for everyone!
A Day in the Life
8am - I usually wake up around 8am, grab some breakfast and my laptop and leave for the library. As a law student, its only right to pick up a coffee too!
9.30am – Once I have made it to the library, the first thing I do is to make a weekly to-do list. I write a list of everything I need to do and then loosely timetable it. I find timetabling helpful as it keeps me accountable, and I can see everything which needs completing. However, keep your daily tasks realistic. I, myself have been guilty of being too ambitious, unnecessarily piling lots of tasks on early in the week. This only works out to be unrealistic and demoralising.
I think it’s also really important to touch on procrastination. Procrastination is really common and is nothing to be ashamed of. The workload of university can be intimidating and desire to make work perfect can make starting tasks really challenging. Dividing large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks was of great aid to me if I had been procrastinating.
Additionally, I find timetabling by the exact hour unhelpful as you never know what activities may take longer or when you will be asked for an impromptu coffee study break! This prevents you feeling too rigidly attached to your timetable.
I will also attend any classes I have that day. At most universities your law studies will consist of both large and small classes, lectures, and tutorials.
Example To-do list:
My studies unfortunately were still blended (both online and in person) this year as a result of the pandemic and over-subscription. This meant that some of my lectures were online so this to do list reflects this. In this case Module A was blended, Module B was completely online, and Module C was completely in person! All my tutorials have been in person.
To do List (example):
Week Beginning: XX
Module A x1 Online
Module A – Monday 9am
Module B x1 Online
Module B x1 Online
Module C – Monday 10am
Module C – Friday 9am
Module A tutorial – Tuesday 3pm
Module B tutorial – Friday 1pm
10.00pm-12.00pm – I am most productive in the morning, so these hours are most crucial for me! I try to get the trickiest bits of work done in these hours as my focus is better. However, if you work best in the evening or afternoon, you will find it best to do any work which requires a lot of concentration then!
When studying I find the pomodoro technique most useful. This technique consists of 25 minutes of studying, with 5 minutes break. You repeat this 4 times before having a longer break. I find this helps me keep deeply engaged in my work or online lectures.
To time, I use the flora app on my phone. If you stay off your phone for the duration of the timer you set, you grow a virtual plant. You can also adjust your working and break time to whatever you choose. I listen to lo-fi or study music to promote good focus.
Another approach I find useful is splitting up hard activities with easier ones. For example, if I decide to tackle tough tutorial questions, I will follow or break it up with a lecture on easier content. Remember to take regular breaks!
12.00pm-1pm – I will usually take a lunch break at around noon. I would recommend taking a large break for lunch as it will leave you feeling rested and ready to focus in the afternoon. I love using this time to meet friends.
1.00pm-4.30pm – I will continue studying through the afternoon using the pomodoro method or attending any lectures or tutorials.
4.30pm – 6.30pm – I finish up my studies to work. I am currently working as an online English and Maths tutor alongside my studies. I love my job and it is a great option for students as it is flexible and a good way to earn money alongside studying.
7.30pm – 8.30pm – I often use my evenings to attend my dance classes at my university’s dance society. If I could give any tip to new students joining university, it would definitely be to join a society. Any hobby is a great way to let off steam after studying and universities usually have something to suit everyone. Although it is definitely intimidating to put yourself out there, it is such an invaluable way to make lifelong friends and relax between studying.
Evenings – I love unwinding in the evenings. Personally, I study in the library and tend to avoid studying in my bedroom so I can keep it as a place to relax. This is just what works for me. I love watching Netflix in the evening and cooking with my flatmates or going on a night out. Apart from exam season, I do try to stick to a 9-5 day to make sure I have good balance. According to the NHS, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Make sure you prioritise sleep, no matter your schedule, as it is crucial for memory retention and general wellbeing.
When I have time! – Life as a student can be busy and it can feel really overwhelming to balance socialising alongside studying and working. However, I would really recommend trying to keep up with networking and commercial awareness. Activities as simple as having an active LinkedIn account and keeping up with upcoming law firm insight days are really helpful for further career prospects. Also consider joining your universities law society. I am part of the Glasgow University Law Society and the Glasgow University Women in Law Society. When there are events like speakers or coffee mornings I try my best to attend, they are a great way to keep up with law socially. I also really like journalling and setting goals for myself, outside my studies.
A Closing Point
I hope this is helpful for any current or prospective students and offers advice on what to expect and how to structure your day as a law student.
Imposter syndrome is extremely real when starting university and is unfortunately common. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious or confused entering and navigating your studies, I certainly did. Everyone structures their studies differently, try not to compare yourself to your peers. Being in university alone is a huge achievement in itself. My time studying so far has been immensely hard but also immensely rewarding. Do not be afraid to ask questions, put yourself out there and most importantly have fun, university has a lot to offer alongside your law studies!
By Kirsty Westbury
Second Year LLB Law Student at the University of Glasgow, Scotland
You can connect with Kirsty via Linkedin here.
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You can find more information about studying the LLB in Scotland and the routes to becoming a qualified solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland's website.
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