Ida Nizankowska

Ida Nizankowska
3rd Year LLB Law
Hi my name is Ida and I'm a first year LLB Law student. I'm originally from London but I have lived all around the world, which was incredible. But now I'm back in the hood and settling at QM. I'm an aspiring barrister in either intellectual property law or human rights (haven't made up my mind yet). I'm trying to get as involved as possible at uni, I've joined a bunch of societies and so far I'm loving my experience at QM. In the evenings I play the piano in a jazz bar in Soho.

Vacation Scheme Savoir Vivre

*Cue in my previous post* So, now that you have successfully applied for a vacation scheme, it’s time for the tips on how to survive it, and walk out triumphantly with a training contract offer behind your belt.

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– Don’t be afraid to ask questions! There is only so many things you can be expected to do on a vac scheme, work wise. No one will expect you to take on very difficult tasks. However there will be times, when one of the partners or senior associates asked you to help them with something out of your zone of competence. What to do then? On no condition should you go and try to do the task sloppily. If you don’t understand, ask! They are there to help! And of course, they are a busy lot, but they will always have a few seconds to explain the task. In the end, it is more effective to spend 3 minutes explaining than 3 hours redoing a wrongly executed task, isn’t it?
– Socialise! A vacation scheme is not only a valuable work experience, but also a chance for you to meet some incredible people. The graduate recruitment team will probably set up some events for you to get to know your fellow vac schemers, your supervisors and maybe even if you’re lucky some of the partners. Take as much out of these events as you can. Enjoy yourself while making useful contacts. Make sure to get to know your supervisors, after all, their opinion is probably the most important when it comes to your evaluation. Have a little chat, share a drink, show them who you are outside of the office. This will help them determine whether your personality will suit the firm, and whether you would be a good addition to the team.
– Make a good impression! The second you walk into that office, there is only so many things you can do right, and remember, the first impression is most important. All of the smallest things matter! Make sure you’re dressed smartly. Don’t underestimate the power of being dressed to impress. Clean cuffs, polished shoes or appropriate accessories are among the must do’s! Nothing looks worse than a sloppy suit or an unironed shirt. But clothes is not all. Remember to also wear a big smile! It will make you look friendly, and break the ice. An honest and wide smile can work wonders.

The Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London

Now you’re packaged with a few of my tips it’s time for you to go and put them to use. Now off you go! Make Queen Mary University proud!

Ida’s amazing tips on what to do and learn in your second year at university.

LEARN HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR TIME EFFICIENTLY 

It’s hard being a second year law student. From every direction we get bombarded with emails about what we have to do and how to do it, invitations to countless amazing events and other incredible options for involvement. But how to find the time to do it all? With all these amazing opportunities for career prospects and skill expansion it’s hard to pick the best ones. It’s important to note here, that I hate any kind of adages and maxims. The top of the list is graced by “having too many irons in the fire”. I have, consistently throughout my life refused to believe that there is such a thing as having too many things to do. With regards to all the amazing opportunities at uni I wasn’t going to change, so I marched to the nearest Ryman and got a fancy Moleskine calendar. If I was to squeeze the most out of all the possibilities I would have to learn how to organise my time very efficiently, almost to the second. And surprise surprise, I was able to attend all the events I wanted, get all my work on time and even fit in some leisure time. The advice is, if life gives you lemons make a hell load of lemonade. 

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BE THE NAPOLEON OF APPLICATIONS i.e. STRATEGY IS EVERYTHING

1. One of the best/worst things about being in your second year, is having to apply for vacation schemes and mini pupillage. Don’t underestimate the time and energy each application will take, this is really important. Open your Moleskine, which you should already have, and organise your time. I would suggest taking a few preparatory steps to get yourself ready:

2. Go down to the reception and get yourself one of those golden little books of miracles of all City Firms and Chambers. 

3. Read it. I mean it. Very thoroughly. You’ll get a good idea of the entry requirements, types of firms, sponsorship opportunities and virtually everything you want and need to know before you put pen to paper. 

4. Take out your highlighter and highlight all the firms you want to apply to. Don’t be too picky, each firm gets hundreds of applications. The bigger the firm the bigger the competition. Don’t limit yourself to a handful of firms. But certainly don’t apply everywhere either, you won’t be able to do it, and you’ll end up with a stash of bad applications which won’t get you anywhere. Decide on a fair amount of firms. I would suggest no more than 12. 

5. Research every firm thoroughly. The most handy part of their website, is the Graduate Recruitment bit. Some firms even provide a pdf which will tell you everything you will need to know in order to apply, including core skills they will be looking for in applications. It’s spoon-feeding you success and guidance on how to write your application. Make notes on every firm you research. Get one of those mini notebooks that policeman have in mystery movies, make condensed notes, which you’ll use later on when applying. 

6. Go online, and research how to write good applications. The internet is amazing, it will show you questions, helpful tips and tricks. Be prepared. Preparation and concentration are key.

7. Write your applications. You will be spending lots of time on this. Speaking from experience, each application will take you about a week. The process will get faster by the end, because many firms use the same service which will remember your basic details, like names, schools etc. This will save you lots of time. Look at the question, dissect it: what are they looking for? how are you going to demonstrate they you have all they qualities they are looking for? My advice: be a very confident, balancing on the verge of a little cocky. They want you and you know it. Make sure you tell them why you’re the best there is out there. Make sure you reference the firm a lot, show that you know the firm, and done your research. It looks impressive and you will come across as a decisive and determined candidate. NOTE! Some questions would be repeated, DO NOT be tempted to copy paste the answer you gave another firm, it’s very obvious when you do it. 

8. Once you’ve written your applications, give them to you mum, nana, friend of a friendly Tesco cashier. Anyone who can read it, and tell you if it’s objectively good. 

Sverige!

So one year and a lot of experiences later, it’s time for the rounding up of my bursary’s impact. Having successfully applied for the QM Law School Bursary I had no doubt what I would spend it on. They say if you love something you have to give it your everything. In my case, the love goes to Sweden. The second I got the bursary I went and signed up for Swedish lessons.

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I was so happy and filled with love when signing up, that I’m sure the lady at the desk thought I was a bit weird. After all the paper work, I was all set to start Swedish at last. It’s not like I was a complete rookie on the matter, I went to Sweden before and could speak a little bit, but my abilities didn’t go further than introducing myself and ordering coffee. This year helped me loads. Even though it was only 2 hours a week, after each lesson I felt more confident about my Swedish than ever. I started watching Swedish movies and TV, naming every day tasks as I carried on with my daily routine, and I even attempted Swedish radio, and that was a big one! I learned loads, not only the language itself, but also culture, customs and what it means to be a real Swede.

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Without the bursary it would not have been possible, that’s why I’m immensely grateful to QM Law for this amazing opportunity, and I’m looking forward to continuing the lessons next year. At the moment I’m in Stockholm putting my linguistic skills to use. I will keep you guys updated on my progress. I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s looking pretty good so far. Enjoy your holidays !

British Polish Law Association

I’m a hardcore Londoner, but just like London I have a very multicultural background. I don’t think more than two members of my family are of the same nationality. Among others, I have Polish roots. So I was thrilled the other day when I received an invitation to the British Polish Law Association networking event. It was so good, too good to describe. The Association was started by George Byczynski and his friends who decided to create a new association based on the original British-Polish Legal Association, founded by George Dobry in 1989. The aim of the new Association is to gather both law students and lawyers who are qualified in the UK and have a Polish identity. The Association will be organising a networking event each month so as to allow them to integrate, as well as share some knowledge and experience with each other. Two additional platforms will be created in the future and those will be addressed to:

1. Polish nationals seeking legal advice

2. Polish companies interested in doing business in the UK

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At the moment the Association is of an unincorporated status, but this is to be changed in near future. There is also no membership fee at the moment, although strict rules apply and only individuals with a legal background can join the Association. You don’t even need to speak Polish to join. At the meeting I had the chance to speak with some wonderful Brits who feel strongly attached to Poland, some of them even worked there for years. So, if you’re Polish, or feel particulary strong about your involvement with Poland you should come and join the Association. Use LinkedIn and Facebook to reach us.

Firsts.

Moving back to London after a few years spent in rural Scotland, locked up in a boarding school was something I was looking most forward to when writing the last words on my last exam in May. June went by faster than ever and before I knew it I was back! Standing on a smelly Euston platform, inhaling the odor of big city. Oh London, how I missed you. It was an amazing feeling to experience different smells rather than the steady ‘countryside/sheep’ one. I was so glad to be back, and funny thing here, instead of putting my holiday party hat on I literally could not wait for uni to start, and for the first time in my life picked studying over holidaying.

Euston sq tube

Summer went past at a speed of light, maybe because I really wanted uni to start. And before I realized it, the 16th September was here. First day at Queen Mary was beyond terrifying. Interesting fact here: people are divided into two groups: those who are scared of first days and being a fresher and big liars. It was a nightmare trying to find where what was but I was determined not to use the little map we were given at introduction. I wanted to keep my cool on and seem relaxed, even though I was shaking inside. Before I knew it I was sitting in a lecture theatre with other 300 people who seemed just as stressed as I was, being welcomed to QM. I was a bit disappointed when I found out that tutorials won’t start until next week (NERD !!!) but this was actually something good. It gave me the opportunity to stand outside lecture theatre chatting to people and not having to worry about being on time to class.

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The first week of lectures was amazing. You know that song ‘born to be wild’ by Steppenwolf? Well my version would be ‘born to be a lawyer’. Strange thing, but for the first time in my life I was a million percent sure that I was in the right place. I was a bit surprised, but nevertheless excited, that we got straight to work. I listened carefully, with my mouth open to every single word the lecturers were saying, trying to write notes and focus on the topic at the same time (a skill that I have now fully mastered #pro). At the end of first week, I had no less than 30 pages of notes and around 300 pages to read for next week’s tutorials. But nevertheless I was excited to get to work. Turns out that law was even more interesting that I thought it would be, and I found the beginning quite easy. Soon enough though, I would find out that law was absolutely everything but easy. But to be honest I was expecting that from the start.

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One more nice surprise from the very beginning was that before the tutorials started I stumbled across a group J Facebook page (oh Mark Zuckerberg, I am forever in your debt). I started chatting to other people in my group so it was really nice and not awkward when we actually met in person, because we knew a bit about each other and broke the ice (virtually, but still). First tutorial of the year was contract law, and as I was walking through the door into our 303 seminar room I opened a new exciting chapter of my life, and could not wait for what was in store. And off we went and took a one way trip to Legalville.

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