Bright Network member Raina Hayles shares her top tips for First Year Lawyers after attending First Year Lawyers Top 100 2015 and Future Lawyers Top 100 2016.
1. Start networking early
Apply to useful networking events before the term begins. The Bright Network First Year Lawyers Top 100 event is particularly useful for networking with some of the best firms in the country and getting a head start on commercial awareness. Not only do I mention attending this in all my applications, but I also made friends I kept at university. Consider also applying to the annual Bright Network Festival for more exposure to employers.
2. Get involved!
As soon as you arrive at university you will be bombarded with opportunities to get involved with your university. Make the most of this and sign up to those activities you think you would enjoy. University is one of the few times in life you can do this. Do not sign up to everything as you will be busy trying to adjust to university life and studying, but keep in mind that firms look for all-rounded graduates who have dedicated time to a non-academic activity.
3. Try mooting/debating/negotiating
Your university is likely to offer mooting, debating or negotiation competitions and workshops. Do not worry if you don’t know what mooting is as not many people do before trying it out at university! Mooting is essentially a mock trial based on a hypothetical case. These activities are highly regarded by employers as it can be quite nerve-racking at first and the skills you acquire are very advantageous. It is also good fun to partake in these competitions as you make lots of friends and can track your progress in the chosen activity.
4. Do NOT forget that first year COUNTS!
Throughout your first year you will often hear the phrase ‘first year doesn’t count’, mostly from fellow first year students. However, whilst this may be the case for other subjects, it is most definitely not for law. You need to achieve at least a 2:1 consistently through the 3 year course to have a strong application for vacation schemes and training contracts (for solicitors), or mini-pupillages and pupillages (for barristers). It is not worth risking a permanent flaw in all your future applications.
5. Apply for schemes and open days
Probably the most beneficial thing you can do in first year is attend schemes and open days. Over the past few years more and more opportunities have arisen for first year law students. Although the application processes can be long and stressful, it is very beneficial to have taken part in a first year scheme. Firms such as Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance and BLP offer first year schemes which give you important exposure to life in the firm and can help you with future applications. I partook in the Hogan Lovells Spring Vacation Scheme which gave me invaluable experience and strengthened my application to become their Campus Ambassador.
6. Quick-fire tips:
- Don’t procrastinate (or at least try not to) and ensure you are working effectively. Make sure you compile your notes as you go, so you do not spend your Easter holiday merging all your notes together in preparation for exams.
- Back up all your work regularly.
- Do not waste money buying all brand new books! Get onto your university book market page (it may be on Facebook) and buy them on there if you can.
- Follow your university’s law club on all social media accounts as they provide amazing opportunities specific to your year group and subject.
- Try to develop your skill of being able to have a casual conversation with someone you have just met. Fresher’s week is perfect for this. It is a valuable skill which many firms look for and it can be extremely useful at networking events throughout the year.
- Do not underestimate how much revision your first year exams will require and their difficulty, however do NOT spend your first year stressing over them!
- Keep up with the news at all times rather than racing to catch up before an interview. Use websites like the Financial Times and Bright Network to receive weekly emails updating you on any news that may be of interest to you.
- Try not to give up an activity you have always had a passion for and have pursued from a young age, employers will commend your dedication.
- HAVE FUN!
A big thank you to Raina for sharing her top tips.