3 things I wish someone told me before I started Law school!

Hey guys!

It’s getting to that time of year again where all the new students are coming into law schools up and down the country, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to embark on a new chapter of their lives. This time of year can seem daunting with all of the myths about law school which you see all over the internet, from friends, teachers etc… so here I am to give you all a few helpful pieces of advice which I think will set you all at ease about starting law school!

1. Don’t compare yourself. It’s not worth the stress.

This is probably the biggest problem most new law students find themselves struggling with early on. Wherever you end up it is always the case that there will be people who see themselves as the elite of law students and at first this may seem true. They stroll around campus talking to everyone about all this experience they have already and how they have already secured vacation schemes or mini pupillages as soon as they got to univeristy. The important thing to remember is that your goals are not linked to theirs at all, while it may seem like you aren’t doing as much as they are career wise or aren’t getting the same grades, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do what they do because it works. This just isn’t true, I wish someone took me aside when I first started and told me to just focus on myself and not obsess over what other people are doing, it would have saved alot of sleepless nights and even more stress.

2. The law is competitive. But not everything needs to be a competition.

I suppose you can apply this to any wall of life but it is particularly relevant to law. By its very nature the law provokes competition between students, wether it is in job applications or mock trials, simulated negotiations or whatever it is you might be doing. The fact of the matter is that law students tend to be competitive people which is healthy , but don’t let that become the whole experience you have of law school. When it comes to application deadlines and assignments or exam revision, your peers are the most valuable resource you have, don’t feel like you have to go at it alone in the cut throat world of law, collaboration is quickly becoming one of the most valuable life skills you pick up when it comes to a career in the law. Don’t neglect the chance to help and share with eachother, it’ll help you more than you could imagine.

3. Plans are great, but give yourself space to change.

There is no feeling worse than not knowing what you want to do or where you want to be in life. That’s why most law students quickly develop strong senses of what type of they law enjoy or what career they want before they even start! Having a direction you want to go in or interests are obviosuly not a bad thing but don’t get too attached to them straight away the likihood is that you will change your mind multiple times as you experience more and more. Take me for example I started out wanting to be a corporate solicitor, and now I’m a aspiring barrister with interests in criminal and family law. Give yourself time to experience everything and then decide, it seems like there is a rush to know what you want to do but don’t let that force you into a option that doesn’t excite you!

Hopefully these little snippets of advice come in handy to everyone, you can easily apply this to any career or field of study. New starts are daunting and it seems easy to get stuck in the trappings of the field you’re in but once you adapt and relax everything slots into place!

Thanks for reading!

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BOOK REVIEW: Tales of the Law and how it’s broken by the Secret Barrister

As promised I’ve decided to write my review of Tales of the Law and how it’s broken! This is all from a student perspective and how useful I found the book as an aspiring criminal barrister but with some general literary thoughts for good measure!

Let’s start off with what the book is all about. In essence it is a collection of stories, anecdotes and the occasional commentary all about the current state of the criminal justice system and what it’s like to practise as a modern barrister within it. You can expect a full range of topics from prisons and sentencing of offenders to police custody, you name it, if it has a criminal slant likelihood is it’ll be in there! While the comments on the Law and the system are incredibly interesting and of great value, the thing I found most intriguing about this read was the way in which it exposes the day to day life of the author who themselves is a practising criminal barrister.

As this is one of my favourite books I feel like this review is slightly bias, however I make no apology due to the sheer brilliance of the book. The subject matter is one which at times seems inaccessible to those who are new to the law, but this is where the book shines, articulating difficult and often overlooked concepts in a way which anyone regardless of legal education level can understand. This is why I put this on my recommended list for summer reading, it serves as a real jump off point for the criminal law but also many general concepts that come along with it.

Outside of the content of the Law itself, this book really is of use to students in the plain and unapologetic manner in which the author describes what life at the criminal bar is truly like. I would recommend this read to any aspiring or current law student with a interest in practise, if it’s criminal law or the bar in general this book has something for you!

On a more general note about the writing of the book, the author deserves immense credit. The way in which the subject matter is dealt with perfectly reflects the severity of the problems and trials faced by barristers and the criminal justice system everyday, but this is not another dreary, depressing commentary on a broken system, the author manages to traverse these difficult subjects with humour and a vibrant spirit by drawing on their own experiences which really helps to make the books accessible to everyone!

Overall, this is a must read for any law student or even members of the public who really want to see what the criminal law, which effects us all, operates like in day to day life!

If you have read the book or have any thoughts please let me know!

Hope you all enjoy this book, I know I did! 😊

The curious case of the summer reading list!

So it’s getting to that time of year again…the time when all aspiring law students sit and look for books to read before univeristy that will give them a edge once they start univeristy.

From experience I can say this is one of the most stressful but exciting parts of the run up to starting univeristy regardless of what subject you choose to study. But what should you be reading? With the vast amount of legal texts available it can be overwhelming for many who are looking for some quick reads to stand them in good stead come September. So with that being said I’ve complied a list of books that I found useful to read before starting my own studies to help you guys out!

It is worth pointing out before I get into my list, that you should take this in context, some universities do provide a summer reading list and this is in no way intended to be a substitute for that but rather to give you some different options to supplement your reading which I think are more useful than reading textbooks over summer. With my little disclaimer out if the way in true lawyer fashion! Let’s get into the list!

1. The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham

This book is one of the classic staples of many modules on most law courses. Written by the late Lord Bingham, one of the countries most renowned and accomplished jurists, this book is a relatively short and easy read. Content wise it deals with the underpinnings of many public law issues such as human rights and the way in which the state and the individual interact. Outside of the specific Public Law issues it deals with this book serves as a solid introduction to many of basic concepts which underpin all areas of law and the English legal system. Overall, this is a very accessible and short read, which I loved when I read it and quickly became a valuable resource throughout my degree.

2. Letters to a Law Student by Nicolas McBride

Another classic book for prospective law students. This book is less content driven but instead focuses on the actual task of studying Law. I really enjoyed this read and it certainly gave me a lot of pause for thought before I started my studies and actually reassured me about my degree choice. This is a real eye opener for those who may be doubting themselves or are unsure about studying Law.

3. Killing Eve by Helena Kennedy

This book came as a surprise to me. At its core the book deals with the idea of women within the law and Legal system and introduces some feminist legal arguments and highlights the operation of these arguments in society. Normally this isn’t something I would pick up and read but I’m so glad I did! Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the points the book is trying to make, the way in which Kennedy introduces her ideas through this book really gets you thinking about some more abstract concepts in law which you’ll be introduced to during your studies.

4. Stories of the Law and how it’s broken by the Secret Barrister

A book very close to my heart as a aspiring criminal barrister. Possibly my favourite legally slanted book, this now cult classic has quickly rose to prominence alongside it’s enigmatic author due to the blunt and open dialog it poses about the English and Welsh criminal justice system. A must read for any aspiring barrister or criminal lawyer and even for the public in general, this book focuses on the criminal law in all of its forms and picks up on the successes and failings of the criminal justice system. This book will introduce procedural rules and other lesser discussed issues which are invaluable to anyone involved in the law. Easily my favourite book on this list! Look out for my full review of this one in coming days!

I hope this list provides a easy starting point for any prospective students, all of these books are worthy of much more analysis and commendation than I can give in this post and all teach valuable lessons in different ways.

If you have read or are wanting to read any of these, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts and feels on this list and if you have any additions you feel I’ve left off!

Who am I and why did I start a blog??

Hey everyone and welcome to my first ever blog post! I’m so excited to finally get this off the ground and see where the journey takes me!

I guess a good way to start is to tell you all who I am, so here we go. I’m a law student at the University of York trying to navigate the difficult world that is academia in order to hopefully get my dream job as a barrister at the end of it.

This blog is going to be a little collection of posts detailing my journey to the Bar, as well as including some (hopefully) helpful advice, tips and thoughts on all things relating to university in general, studying Law and getting into a career at the Bar. So I guess the purpose of the Blog is really to document the journey but also to create a rough guide to how I got through my studies and career development, which can serve as a resource for students and just people interested in this sort of thing.

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I am going to and I hope you stick with me while I attempt to make it in the gruelling world of the law!

Happy Reading!!!