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  • Writer's pictureHarriet Hearns

Tips and tricks for success as an LLB student

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Harriet Hearns, a penultimate LLB student at Abertay University offers insight into the experiences she has gained so far in her three years at University, and shares her tips and tricks for success as a final year LLB student studying in Scotland for current and future students.

Looking back to my first and second year days as a penultimate law student, there are some tips I wish I knew earlier. Although I was told several times that studying Law is extremely challenging and perhaps requires more dedication compared to other degrees, I don’t think I was quite prepared for how intense it would be from the start. In this article, I wish to give students undertaking this degree more inside knowledge in the hope that they have the utmost success as an LLB student.

Pictured: Harriet Hearns

My experience so far

Although many people who go on to choose a law degree do not want to be a lawyer once they graduate, I was adamant that this is what I wanted to do. This arguably made me more determined to take every opportunity I could. My future self is grateful for this. As this article will advise, grades are not always everything and getting as many different experiences on your CV is of high importance.

Throughout my degree, I have been involved in many things such as International Law Week, which specialised in EU law. I had an opportunity to experience an academic conference environment and network with European colleagues. I was selected to be a part of Street Law, run by the Law Society of Scotland which involved presenting a series of law lessons to secondary school pupils. I subsequently took this opportunity further by successfully applying as a leader of a street law lesson for Pinsent Masons PRIME presentation to Scottish and Irish school pupils. Similarly, I’m currently involved with Tayside and Perthshire Law Project where I make the law more accessible to the community by helping lead a drug awareness group. I have recently been elected as Abertay Law Society's Social Media officer, getting more engagement with new members, and posting current world issues.

These are just some of the things you can experience as an LLB student, and I highly recommend getting involved in as many things as possible. This strengthens your CV and adds to your chance of success in the legal field.

I will now share with you some tips and tricks…

Pictured: Abertay Law Society - Committee 22/23

Make a daily to do list

I find that if I manage to break down my tasks into smaller ones and I can tick them off, I feel a lot more accomplished and less stressed. This includes non-law related things and can be as small as “hang up the washing”.

Don’t be tempted to buy books before your classes start

One BIG thing I would strongly advise is do not buy your books before your lecturers have advised you on what book to purchase. Before I even started my classes I used the reading list for each module and bought two books for each class. Do not make the same mistake I made! At the beginning of term, usually your first class, your lecturer will tell you what is recommended and eBay or Amazon normally sell good second-hand ones. There is definitely not a need to buy brand new ones.

Although your books change each term depending on what module you’re studying, there is one book that has helped me throughout my whole degree, and that is “Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument” by Stella Cottrell. In my first year I struggled with critical analysis. In secondary school, teachers don’t tend to explain this concept to you and once you get to university, you’re just expected to know how to apply it. Using books like these have helped me to develop this key skill as an LLB student.

Remembering case law

There are so many cases to learn as a law student. I use post it notes to write down the facts but only a couple of sentences. I also include the issue, the reasoning of the court and why they reached the decision. This is all you need to know for an assessment or exam. To help me remember the particular case, I also draw a symbol or a drawing of some sort that sticks out to me that helps me to remember it better. For example, when writing about the famous Donoghue v Stevenson case in delict or tort law, I’ll draw a snail.

Don’t be afraid to email lecturers

In my experience, lecturers have always been happy to confirm something or answer any questions you may have. Don’t always go by what everyone else is saying as chances are some others might be just as confused.

Experience, experience, experience

As I stated previously, Law is very competitive, and grades definitely aren’t everything. Getting involved in clubs and societies is very important as not only does it boost your CV and make you more interesting to talk about in interviews and applications but it’s a great way to make friends.

One thing that I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for is the loneliness of moving away from home for the first time and starting fresh. Therefore, it’s great to have things in common with people and join university clubs.

Additionally, if you see an opportunity arise for gaining more knowledge in a certain area, take it! Starting university, I had no commercial awareness and didn’t really know what it even was. The British Inter-University Commercial Awareness Competition (BIUCAC) is an amazing way to boost your employability and further improve this highly sought out skill. Even though I was not very commercially savvy, I managed to advance through to the third round of the competition. This gave me confidence to try new things and you should too!

Further, try to get a part time job if you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s not law related, any skills you pick up from any job are transferable and can help you to get a job in the legal field later down the line.

Don’t overwork yourself

One last thing I wish to emphasise is don’t overwork yourself into exhaustion. As a law student, there is an expectation that the workload will be huge and more so than other courses. However, this does not mean having no social life or staying up until 3am in the morning doing work. It’s really important to find a balance between socialising and studying.

I hope these tips from a penultimate LLB law student can help those just starting out, or even act as reminders for those further on in their degree. I wish everyone the best of luck in their studies, no matter where their future lies!

I hope that you find this post useful and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin.

By Harriet Hears

Penultimate LLB Law Student at Abertay University, Dundee

The Scottish Lawyer has created a FREE templates especially geared towards LLB law students to assist you with drafting case notes/briefings and note taking in tutorials - click here to access the materials via our website and download your own templates now.

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.

Views expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of The Scottish Lawyer.


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