Congratulations! You have been accepted into the University of York and are about to start the most exciting three years imaginable! The York Law Society is a helpful place to begin your time at University, offering a comfortable balance of career-focussed events (they are really not that scary) and socials to “build your network” (i.e. make friends). To make the transition to University a little bit easier for all of you aspiring lawyers/legal academics/those interested in a legal-orientated career, we have developed an informative first year guide.
Useful Information for Aspiring Solicitors
[True for both aspiring barristers and aspiring solicitors] Do not overwork yourself in your first year. Spend some time getting to grips with workloads, organising your time effectively (with the use of reminders, calendars, and diaries for example). Not only will this allow you to give ample time to your academia, but it will also allow you to develop a crucial skill for lawyers: time management.
Join the York Law Society. This is not necessary to become a solicitor, however the assistance we give to our members speaks for itself.
Extra-curriculars. Find something you enjoy doing and thrive at it! This could be related to sports, arts, volunteering or even the Law Society. Society hustings and interviews usually take place just before the Easter break, giving you roughly two terms to get involved as much as possible in extra-curricular activities, and then pursuing a position on a University Society if you so please. Doing extra-curricular activities alongside your degree allows you to develop relevant skills for solicitors, such as problem-solving, organisation, teamwork and leadership.
Law Firm Open Days/Insights/Mentoring Schemes/Scholarships. Legal work experience is always a good place to start once you have gotten to grips with University life. These opportunities require applications in most/all cases, which can be quite gruelling. Join our Application Acceleration Programme (AAP) to gain an understanding of how to construct a great application, and develop your soft skills (i.e. how to network – this is an important one). Lawcareers.net is a useful starting point to learn more about first year opportunities.
Brand Ambassador Opportunities. These offer the chance to learn more about a particular law firm/company by representing them on campus, as well as the opportunity to further develop relevant skills, such as communication, event planning and problem-solving. Lastly, most opportunities are paid. Applications for Brand Ambassador Opportunities open throughout the year and you will see some published on our Facebook Page . Keep an eye on Law Firm Websites and organisations such as On-Campus Promotions for Brand Ambassador Opportunities.
Useful Information for Aspiring Barristers
All of these suggestions are again not prescriptive and as such you must remember that Chambers are looking for a well-rounded applicant more than anything else. That being said here is the non-exhaustive list.
Mini-pupillages provide an insight into the life of a barrister via shadowing them for a few days/weeks. These can be obtained either through link days provided by the University that will be offered to you through the year, through applying by yourself via the Chambers’ own applicant portal or alternatively any personal network that you have available to you, including any that the Law Society can offer.
Marshalling includes shadowing a judge for the day and tend to be less common than mini-pupillages.
This is by far the easiest way to gain an insight into court life and not only provide you with a more developed perspective of the application of law outside the confines of YLS, but also provide you with the opportunity to network with barristers you may come in contact with.
Although this work-experience is usually catered toward aspiring solicitors, there is no harm in gaining an insight into this legal career path, if only to establish why it is that you do NOT want to go down this route.
Volunteering (Preferably Legal)
This includes any pro-bono work that you may be able to gain including a quasi-paralegal position you may be able to find, however, as first-year law students, this will likely prove difficult to come by.
Mooting will again provide an invaluable lesson in advocacy that chambers will value as it demonstrates commitment to the bar from an early stage.