Thomas Maxwell-Harrison is a BPC (Bar Professional Course) and LLM (Master of Law’s) law student with The University of Law, we asked what 3 key pieces of advice he’d share with aspiring legal professionals and fellow law students. Thomas also shared his unique path to becoming a Law Student and gave an insight into the classes he has completed as a student.
3 tips for future and fellow law students
Go ahead, apply to the course. You won’t lose anything and students have multiple choices at their fingertips now. They could simply change their mind and go against enrolling, they could defer their place and they could choose a part-time option.
From what I have read about part-time bar course students, it does sound a lot better! You shouldn’t be afraid of making a choice, but be prepared to face the consequences.
My first tip would be to be confident in yourself and your abilities. I hate seeing students putting themselves down. Some people say ‘they are not good enough or they ‘are not smart enough.’
Nonsense, that is not self-belief that is self-destruction. You can’t judge how well you will perform on a course if you haven’t even studied it.
The second tip, learn how to create and manage a flexible diary and study schedule. One mistake I made when studying my LLB for the first year was not having a timetable per se, even though it was home-based, I still needed structure. Particular emphasis on revision days and deadlines.
Don’t overlook your personal life either, that is all part of a planner. I encourage anyone wanting to be a law student to take some serious time creating this schedule and make sure it covers the entire day, every day, and that it is flexible because classes will change, life will change and so will other factors.
Make sure you do all the reading. This isn’t just the set reading or provided textbooks. Learning a subject doesn’t mean reading the same text over and over. If you feel you want more information then head to the library or use your computer to research.
I am talking about reading all the information you can on being a law student because the amount of reading on the course will be a real world-changer compared to your average person. Read about the path you might want to take, what is an LLB, what is a lawyer, how to become a solicitor or barrister?
Use websites such as Legal Cheek and Simply Jobs, look for ways to get into law without the standard qualifications like the Cilex. If you enjoy learning about the law and you haven’t started a course, be sure you know what route you want to take.
Path to studying law
I didn’t take traditional A levels like English, Maths, or Science. Instead, I took an extended diploma in aircraft engineering which I enjoyed thoroughly. It was after finishing that course that I started to think yet again about studying for an LLB. I spent a few years working and living life, occasionally diving into the law, reading about cases and articles, and generally keeping it on the backburner.
It wasn’t until 2017 that I enrolled with the Open University after discovering the wide range of fantastic courses they offered. Their LLB was entirely remote, with the option of face-to-face tutorials and of course the in-person exams, which I had to travel to Nottingham for. The degree was a big investment as I wasn’t 100% sure I’d enjoy it. Except for public law, I did, and I achieved a high second class which I am grateful for.
It worked out cheaper than a standard ‘brick’ university as well and I still got the piece of paper at the end. So my route to the LLB was a little varied and took longer, leaving me more time to consider my options. I had thought about becoming a paralegal or undertaking the Cilex. I decided against that as when I graduated I had my heart set on completing the bar course. Now my goal is to complete this course the best I can. I will worry about pupillage a bit later on.
Types of classes taken whilst studying law
I can tell you about my bar course class, civil skills which I commenced in September 2021. As a fairly new student, I had already been indoctrinated with negative images of the work that needed doing but as I have completed the reading and attempted the work I can tell you that it is not as daunting as it seems. In civil skills, for example, we have to learn how to draft documents like the particulars of claim and write opinions.
These are the skills that a barrister needs in practice so the university is prepping students well in advance of the actual exam. I also find it rather enjoyable, although searching through the civil procedure rules can be a bit overwhelming for a newbie.
Alongside civil, we have a criminal skills class, also commenced in September 2021. In these sessions, it’s all about Blackstones Criminal practice and learning about antecedents, bail, cross-examination, and conferencing. All practical and relevant and it provides the cohort with a chance to get to know each other a little more whilst learning.
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