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Top things law students should do during the Christmas holidays – and the top things they should avoid

13 December 2012 

 

Should do

  Take in some law-related culture

One of the things that probably drew you towards studying law in the first place was the rich popular mythology that surrounds the legal profession. From John Grisham to Silk, from Rumpole of the Bailey to the Lincoln Lawyer, there are loads of great novels and films about the law. Watching or reading them as a law student with actual knowledge of how the legal system works may prove infuriating at times, but it’s worth it to remind yourself of some of the reasons that first inspired you to study law.

  Read some good quality legal blogs

Why limit yourself to the realm of fiction when there are so many excellent articles about the legal profession being spawned by the current boom in law blogging? The UK Human Rights Blog is a constant stream of easily accessible analysis on human rights issues in the news and is well worth devoting a few hours to this Christmas. Another blogging highlight is the ‘If I knew then what I know now’ series by Legal Cheek, featuring contributions from leading legal world figures including Twitter joke trial lawyer David Allen Green, Matrix chambers silk Matthew Ryder QC and top legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg. Meanwhile, for a steer on the future of the corporate branch of the legal profession, check out the (not as depressing as it sounds) ‘Growth is Dead’ series on US blog Adam Smith Esq.  And don’t forget some of the blogs here on FLN including that from our own Careers & Employability team.

  Apply for training contracts and pupillages

If you’ve been too busy recently to devote as much time as you’d like to training contract or pupillage applications, the Christmas holidays is great time to remedy this.  Many top firms’ deadlines for applications to their vacation schemes – traditionally a practical  gateway to a training contract – are at the end of January, leaving plenty of time to apply over Christmas. Meanwhile, future barristers should bear in mind that while the Pupillage Portal may be closed until April, there are a host of chambers which operate independently of the official system and have pupillage application deadlines between now and the spring.  Step 7 in our Student Employablity Programme is a great resource to help you complete those all-important application forms.

  Bolster your CV

More than ever, law students need to stand out from the crowd. And the universally agreed best way to do that is through bolstering your CV with interesting, relevant extra-curricular activities. That may mean doing work experience with a law firm or chambers, volunteering in a law centre or doing some paid part-time work. The key is to think analytically about whatever you do, and consider how the skills you’re using – however mundane – could help you in your future career as a lawyer. Note that ‘relevant’ doesn’t necessarily equal directly law-related, as Pinsent Masons Head of Graduate Recruitment Edward Walker recently indicated when he told The Guardian:

‘A student working on the checkout at Sainsbury's is more impressive than they often realise. Let's not forget that companies like Sainsbury's are law firms' core clients. Understanding how their business works from the bottom up is very useful.’

Step 6 in our Student Employability Programme gives more advice on perfecting your legal CV.

  Catch up on anything you’re not on top of

And of course, the festive break from university or law school is a great time to consolidate your learning from the autumn term, catch-up and generally put yourself in a position to hit the ground running in January.

Should avoid

  Boring family and friends with your new-found legal knowledge

It’s easy to get a little carried away with the excitement of knowing about the law. As a law student, you suddenly find yourself in possession of important information that ’normal' people are unaware of. Who knew, until they began studying law, that trespassers can't always be prosecuted, or that a contract can exist even if it is not written down? However, resist the temptation to spend the Christmas period attempting to solve the problems of those close to you with your half-baked legal knowledge. At best, you’ll bore everyone to death. At worst, well, there’s a reason lawyers aren’t allowed to practise until they’re qualified!

  Testing the boundaries of social media

With Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC scheduled to deliver his recommendations on new guidelines for prosecutions over social media abuse before the end of the year, now is an especially bad time for anyone connected with the law to post anything legally controversial on Facebook or Twitter. Far better to use the Christmas holidays to keep track of Starmer’s recommendations, then wow law firm and pupillage interviewers with your knowledge of an area many lawyers are behind the curve on.

  Taking a gratuitous skiing holiday

OK, if you’ve got stacks of cash to burn, and a training contract lined up, why not take to the slopes over Christmas? But if your CV is a bit on the bare side, and a graduate job still not in the bag, disappearing to the Alps seems like a risky strategy. And, as detailed above, slapping it on your CV as an example of your commitment to pursuing extra-curricular interests won’t impress anyone.

  Burn-out

While ensuring that you’re on the ball is important, you need to relax too. It’s been a tough few months, so make sure you take some time out to catch up on sleep and take things easy. Those who don’t let up over Christmas often find themselves living to regret it as they approach their second and third terms with little fuel left in the tank.



 

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