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4 things students wish they knew before starting a law degree

By Nicole Wootton-Cane• Last updated: Jul 13, 2023
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Known as one of the most competitive and rigorous courses out there, law degrees are incredibly popular among both undergraduate and graduate students.

From Legally Blonde to How to Get Away With Murder, there’s no shortage of dramatisation of the law school experience out there. But whilst these make great binge-worthy TV shows and movies, it also means there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what doing a law degree is actually like.  

We spoke to some real life students and graduates to find out what they wish they’d known before they started a degree in law. 

“I wish I knew that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing” - Dea Gagoshidze, GDL & LPC, University of Law, London

"So I wish before I started I knew that it really doesn’t matter what other people are doing. This applies in all contexts: studying, applying for training contracts, mooting, etcetera.

"So many people look like they have it all figured out but usually there’s so much behind the scenes that you simply don’t know. That person in the library studying for 10 hours a day might have done work half as effective as someone who is studying for 3 hours a day, the person who doesn’t say anything in seminars might do the best in the exam. 

“Once you realise how everyone is at very different stages and has very different strategies for coping with the degree, it becomes a lot easier to focus on your own experiences and your individual journey.”

“I wish I knew what to think about when choosing my optional modules” - Kearna, LLB Law with Criminology, Salford University

“Think smart when choosing your option modules. You can pick optional modules that you believe you will do well in, and get better grades that bring up your overall classification. Optional modules also allow you to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the subject. 

“Don’t pick optional modules just because your friends are doing the same one! You may not enjoy the subject and lack of enjoyment will result in lack of commitment, focus, and revision. You need to decide what is best for you and what is best for your degree. 

“Make sure you know the details of the optional module. Speak to the head of the module and see if the course fits your style of learning. Make sure you know how it is graded - for example, if you prefer essays and do better in them than exams then maybe an optional module that is mainly exams will not work for you. It’s also good to talk to someone who previously took the module. 

“Select a wide range of optional modules. Doing this will broaden your degree and then you will know which areas you loved and which areas you will not practice in. Your options are there to use them to your advantage.”

“I wish I knew how much extra reading there is” - Becca Windsor De Taboada, Law with Politics, the University of Manchester 

“I mean it might sound obvious but I really wish I knew just how much extra reading it is. I mean to the point where I’d recommend buying a printer to help with shorter readings. Cases can be more than 100 pages long too (especially in international law) so in those cases Ctrl-F is a lifesaver! 

“Also there’s a stereotype that all Law students are competitive and horrible, and I think that made me feel a little hostile to everyone at first. But everyone is new when you start out, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing revision notes and lecture notes and most will be happy to do so (as long as it’s not for an essay because that’s plagiarism).”

“I wish I knew about reading techniques” - Elihanis, LLB, University of London

“Finding a reading technique that works is different for everyone. Mine is where I need to scan through the pages of the topic before reading it, and I will jot down anything that I find useful at the side of the page during the actual reading. 

“I find it makes it easier to understand the information and I don’t need to read the topic multiple times.”

Related tags:
things i wish i knew before law school
starting a law degree
what i wish i knew before law school
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Nicole is a specialised study abroad content writer. With extensive experience in study abroad consultancy, She has been...Read More

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