Law

Studying in Greece

Elliot Hamlin

LLM International Shipping Law


Having lived and studied all my life within the UK, I became accustomed to all types of rain based weather (drizzle, spitting, sleet, hail, mist, even a damp haze). I saw the opportunity to study in Piraeus, Athens as the chance to break a habit of a lifetime and not indulge in the daily English chat of how bleak is the weather. I moved to Piraeus in September of last year and spent two weeks getting to know the city. The city has much to offer and its large marina is home to some of the most magnificent private yachts in the Mediterranean. The public are free to walk along and it’s a great place to grab a coffee and enjoy the warm evenings. One issue to watch out for when moving to Greece as a foreigner is the issue of opening a bank account. Due to the capital control regulations placed on banks the banks have become reluctant to open new bank accounts. From personal experience, I would recommend Piraeus Bank as the easiest and involving the least paperwork.

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The course is situated at the Hellenic Management Centre which is very central and just off the main high-street. The centre has good facilities with a good-sized library and very friendly staff. It is where all the lectures and exams take place. The centre also organises several extra-curricular events throughout the year and organises a 5-aside football team. I was lucky enough to play for the 5-aside team which gave me the opportunity to get to know the other students studying at the centre. They were a very friendly bunch and were eager to ensure that my Greek improved, especially the words for penalty and foul.

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Piraeus is the fourth largest city in Greece, but due to its proximity to Athens it has the feel of a much larger city (it takes about 30 minutes to get from Piraeus to Athens using the Metro). This proximity also allows students the freedom to live and study in either Piraeus or Athens. Airbnb is a great website for this and there are hundreds of good value properties on the market. I chose to move to the neighbourhood of Ambelokipi which is about 15-minute walk from central Athens. The neighbourhood was fascinating and is fairly typical of most of Athens. The majority of the shops are locally owned and this means that they cater for eclectic tastes. For example, on my road there was an antiques shop, old book shop, two shops catering for toy models and a record shop. Another great thing about shopping in Athens is the local markets. Throughout the year there are daily markets offering really good value fruit and veg much fresher than that sold in the Supermarkets.

Greece, Athens, and Piraeus have a lot to offer and am pleased I took the opportunity to enjoy the Mediterranean pace of life.

 

Presenting in Vienna

Beata Sobkow (QMUL Student)

LLM Computer and Communications Law (2016-2017)


Hi everyone!

This little dot at the back with the microphone is me ‘Beata’ a QMUL postgraduate law student presenting at the Annual Privacy Forum an international conference in Vienna:

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How did I get there?

How did I manage to suddenly switch from listening to a lecture to actually giving one?

Well, this is all, really, thanks to the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS – QMUL’s  postgraduate law centre) and the amazing project they run for the postgraduate law students. Every year, CCLS hires students from each of the legal specialisms to act as a ‘Student Specialism Representative’.  The reps organise various academic, professional and social events such as parties (obviously!) but also interesting lectures and meetings with professionals working in the specialist legal industries. For my specialism (LLM Computer and Communications Law), our lovely rep set up a dedicated Facebook page sharing upcoming events and external opportunities.

One of these opportunities was from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) who focus on raising the awareness of network and information security. They were looking for submission of papers for their upcoming Annual Privacy Forum in Vienna. A bit overly enthusiastic and optimistic as I am, I edited one of my LLM essays on EU Data Protection and sent it out to the ENISA for consideration.

I managed to completely forget about my submission as I was focused on my upcoming LLM exams. How surprised I was to suddenly receive an email from ENISA congratulating me and selecting my paper to be presented at the conference in Vienna! This was to be an exciting opportunity to share my work and knowledge with reputable industry professionals.

After experiencing a mix of joy, disbelief and a huge amount of utter panic as well as receiving lots of encouragement from my university friends and “support” from my dad (‘There’s no need to worry, Beata. In the worst case scenario you’ll faint in front of everyone which means you won’t have to present your paper anymore’). I accepted the invitation and started preparing for the ‘big day’.

Vienna arrival

The conference took place between 7-8 June and it turned out to be one of the best memories from my LLM year. None of my imagined 99 possible catastrophes (including passing out in front of the audience or being electrocuted by the presentation pointer) materialised and, instead, I had an amazing time presenting my paper and discussing my presentation and the other topics with the inspiring attendees.

I even got to take a selfie with the data protection legend Max Schrems (calling all my fellow law nerds!)..

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..attended a fancy dinner in a restaurant located in the Vienna city hall…

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..and, staying true to my hipster soul, found some time to visit one of the local hipster cafes:

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Overall, it was a truly unforgettable and fantastic experience. Currently, I am waiting for the publication of my paper and, encouraged by the recent experience, I am already looking for other conferences to attend ;).

This all would not be possible without our amazing specialism rep, QMUL and all the fantastic services, options and opportunities QMUL provides us with. As your LLM is really what you make out of it, make sure you make the most of QMUL’s services and thereby your year at QMUL!

 

Top 10 Places to Visit in Mile End

Are you new to Queen Mary and exploring the area? Maybe you are a Queen Mary veteran who simply wants to leave the house without having to endure the tube. Whatever your age, interests (or the weather), Mile End has an abundance of activities to suit everyone. To help you enjoy those long summer days, here is a helpful guide to the top 10 places to visit without having to leave Mile End.

10. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is London’s most urban Woodland, and one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries. Whilst the Cemetery is now a designated park and hasn’t been used for burials since 1966, the unique history and solace of the park makes it the perfect summer escape. From the stories of mass graves burying up to 30 deceased bodies during the 1850’s to being bombed 5 times during The Blitz, the cemetery is now a nature reserve and educational facility. From my experiences, the Cemetery Park is the perfect place to escape to with a good book on a sunny afternoon, although it is open from dawn until dusk. Looking for something to fill in the long summer days? The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park are always searching for volunteers to join their team and help tend to the park.

9. The Half Moon (AKA ‘Spoons’)

Everybody knows that Wetherspoons is a student staple: cheap food, cheap drinks and a relaxing atmosphere. Mile End is home to the beloved Half Moon Wetherspoon franchise, “the local” for Queen Mary students. The pub and restaurant is the former home of the Half Moon Theatre and a Methodist Chapel; the interesting history and architecture of the Half Moon therefore makes it a must-see for anybody visiting Mile End. If you’re looking for summer drinks, ‘pub grub’ or in need of a substantial meal, The Half Moon is the place to go. And fun fact: The Half Moon was dedicated to showcasing modern socialist plays during its time as a theatre.

8. Mile End Skate Park

Looking to take up a new skill? Mile End Skate Park is perfect for learning the art of skateboarding, with several ledges, flat areas and manual pads to help assist beginners with getting their balance on board. Come rain or shine, Mile End Skate Park has indoor and outdoor ramps and many unique lines on which you can spend all day practicing. You could even pass the time at the skate park celebrity spotting, as Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks filmed their music video for “Heart Skips a Beat” in Mile End Skate Park back in 2011 when the park first opened.

7. The Coffee Room

With all the leisure facilities and sporting opportunities available in Mile End, this list would not be complete without a hip café to refuel and relax. My personal favourite is the Coffee Room, situated on Grove Road. Run by a team of friendly Italians, the coffee and food is perfezionare and the café has an authentic Italian ambiance. Whilst the coffee may be slightly more expensive than coffeehouse chains, it is worth paying those extra pennies; they even serve a bespoke Italian hot chocolate. As a lunch option, The Coffee Room offers a healthy selection of foods which can be enjoyed in an intimate terrace or cosy indoor seating area. Ultimately, I would recommend The Coffee Room for its delicious selection of cakes, cookies and brownies (and its baked goods in general, of which I have shamelessly tried them all).

6. Mile End Leisure Centre

Also known as Mile End Stadium, this venue has multi-sports facilities available to use at reasonable rates. The leisure centre currently holds 10 sports courses, ranging from street dancing and trampolining to a specialised Tom Daley Diving Academy. Alternatively, the leisure centre has a variety of facilities such as a fully-equipped gym, sports hall, studio and swimming pools which you can use on a pay as you go basis or for a subscription fee. If you’re looking to get fit with friends, Mile End leisure centre also has numerous pitches and tracks which can be hired out for group sessions.

5. Mile End Park

Running alongside Queen Mary is Mile End Park; a unique park divided into different zones, each with their own personality. A popular hangout for Queen Mary students during the summer months is the Art Pavilion, which hosts community events including farmer’s markets and summer fetes. My personal favourite part of the park is the Ecology Park, which is home to many species of wildlife that live in the picturesque lake. In addition to wildlife spotting in the Ecology Park, the Ecology Pavilion is also a popular venue for weddings and christenings. And of course, no park is complete without a play area… the one situated in Mile End Park is very impressive and boasts state-of-the-art children’s playground facilities (which I unfortunately haven’t tried). As the park is an impressive 32 hectares in size, there is also an audio walking tour to help you discover all the opportunities Mile End Park has to offer.

4. The Greedy Cow

For award-winning burgers and steaks, Mile End’s Greedy Cow is a must-visit restaurant. Every visit to the Greedy Cow has been an exciting fine-dining experience, with exotic meats such as Wagyu, kangaroo, bison and crocodile recently appearing on the menu. Matching the unusual steak cuts is the quirky interior of The Greedy Cow, which has a rustic theme but a cosy atmosphere. The Greedy Cow has also won several TimeOut ‘Love London’ awards for its quality service and quality meat. Great food and good value really does lie at the heart of The Greedy Cow, and with a special Student Lunch Special offering a burger, side and unlimited soft drinks for £7.50, missing it would be a real miSTEAK.

3. Mile End Climbing Wall

If you’re really looking to challenge yourself over the summer months, look no further than Mile End Climbing Wall which has some of the highest walls without roped protection in the country. The 16,000sq ft climbing surface has something to offer for everyone, as the centre runs sessions for complete novices to seasoned professionals. Famous for having one of the friendliest and most relaxed atmospheres of all the climbing walls in the capital, Mile End’s climbing wall has the perfect environment and tailored sessions to help you learn; including taster sessions, level 1 bouldering and weekend or evening beginners’ classes. Looking for a more social occasion? Why not book a party or join the climbing club at Mile End climbing wall?

2. Roman Road Market

As a self-confessed shopaholic on a student loan, Roman Road Market is my paradise. Whilst the shops on Roman Road are an eclectic mix of modern and traditional, the market is primarily a clothes market which sells branded favourites, such as Topshop and French Connection, but at a fraction of the price. Roman Road Market has been running for over 150 years and is situated on the oldest known trade route in Britain; its long-established history therefore attracts some of the best market sellers around. The market runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; although I’d advise anybody to get there early to grab the best bargains.

1.Victoria Park

Number one place to visit in Mile End is, of course, the famous Victoria Park; London’s oldest and most beautiful parkland. The 218-acre park is also known as the People’s Park, as it was created by the Queen Victoria to provide a recreational space for the working classes of East London during the Victorian era. Today the recreational function of the park continues all year round, with Victoria park offering numerous leisure facilities, including a boating lake, lawn bowling area and a large bandstand. During the summer months, the park really comes alive and hosts some of the UK’s biggest music festivals, such as Lovebox and Field day. The park actually hosts an extensive summer events programme, and all the events are free! Moreover, for the best brunch in London, look no further than the Pavilion café in Victoria Park. Situated in the Western area of the park, the Pavilion Café sells a delicious range of brunch classics (well, in my experiences, a delicious range of avocado-related dishes which have satisfied my avocado obsession). Whilst an afternoon chilling in the park is a quintessential perfect summer afternoon, in Victoria Park you can spend your day in London’s best park without even having to leave the comfort of Mile End!

What is learning at University really like?

Lectures, seminars, tutorials… lost in the University jargon? I remember thinking to myself “a lecture is something that my mum gives me when I’ve done something wrong. I don’t like the sound of some mad University professor shouting at me in an attempt to make me learn.” It is now safe to say that I had completely no idea of what to expect from teaching at University; films such as Legally Blonde gave me a completely misconceived preconception of what it is actually like to be taught at University.

From my experiences as a Student Ambassador, it seems that I was not alone in my confusion over the teaching terms, and many prospective applicants have questions over the teaching process. In fact, one of the greatest transitions when moving from Sixth Form or College to University is the way in which you are taught. Whilst you are expected to devote a considerable amount of time to independent study throughout a University degree, you are also taught in ‘lectures, seminars and tutorials’: here are what the terms actually mean.

 

Lectures

For many of you, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about University is lectures. Essentially, a lecture involves a professor speaking about a particular topic in a large hall. There are often between 50 and 250 students in a lecture; meaning that lectures take the form of a talk about a subject, rather than an interactive discussion or question and answer session. Lectures are designed to give you an overview of a subject, and typically last around 50 minutes. You are then expected to undertake further reading. Most lecturers are specialists in the subjects and at the forefront of their fields, which allows you to find out about the latest research and the academic’s own perspective on the matter.

During lectures, the lecturer generally uses handouts, PowerPoint slides or a whiteboard to help guide you through what they are saying. My advice would be to make notes from these materials, and build up your notes in accordance with what they are saying. Most students choose to make notes on their laptops during lectures, as lectures are usually delivered at a fast pace. However, to get the most out of lectures, you are best to adopt to your lecturer’s style and don’t worry if you miss a few things as further reading will fill in the gaps. The important thing is to turn up on time, gain an introductory understanding of the topic and make notes for future reference.

 

Tutorials

Tutorials take the form of smaller group meetings which give you the opportunity to discuss a topic in depth. At Queen Mary, each tutorial generally has around 10 people, lasts for 50 minutes and is scheduled once a week for each module that you are studying. Tutorials are led by an academic member of staff, who will set a reading schedule and questions for each tutorial. Tutorials give you the opportunity to ask questions and share your own ideas, and are therefore a vital part of each course programme.

Before each tutorial, do your reading! You’ve probably heard the saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”; this is unfortunately true when it comes to tutorials. There is nothing worse than sitting there clueless, unable to participate in the discussion and benefit from what other students are saying. Most tutorial leaders also set questions in advance which you should also attempt prior to each tutorial. Whilst you may struggle to answer them, a tutorial is designed to challenge you so don’t panic. During your tutorial, you will be given the chance to discuss answers and ask any questions you may have from the work. Tutorials may also be skills based, and give you important tips on how to approach questions as well as vital exam advice to really boost your learning.

 

Seminars

A University seminar is somewhat between a lecture and a tutorial. Seminars are generally taught for more specialist modules and can last anywhere between 50 minutes and a few hours. They are usually led by a specialist in the field, but in a smaller format than in a lecture. In a seminar, you can therefore expect to be taught by an academic, but there is also a degree of opportunity to interact and ask questions. Prior to each seminar, you are often given reading and questions which will form the basic outline of the seminar. The seminar leader will then talk you through the subject in a similar format to a lecture and will often ask additional questions regarding interesting or controversial points.

A seminar is designed to help you develop your independent learning skills, as some seminars do not follow a lecture schedule as you are expected to undertake your own reading on the topic beforehand. During the seminar, you can then explore the material in greater detail than a lecture would allow for as the format allows for a greater degree of interaction and personal opinion. As a consequence, seminars are generally tailored towards an individual group; whilst the academic has a topic and an outline for the session, they often revolve around points which members of the group wish to explore further. My advice would be to prepare, participate and probe into the subject after the seminar to really make the most out of University learning.

 

Fundamentally, lectures, tutorials and seminars are there to help guide your learning throughout your University experience. Although lectures, tutorial and seminars are broadly similar across most universities, my explanations are based upon my experiences of studying law here at Queen Mary. Whilst other Universities may differ slightly in size, structure and delivery, the purpose and format remains largely similar to Queen Mary.

5 Ways to Prepare for Results Day

With results day only one month away and the honeymoon period of lazy summer days coming to an end, the countdown to the big day is on. From my experiences, A-Level results day really was one of the most nerve wracking events of my life, as it marked the end of 14 years of hard studying and determined the next chapter in my life. Whilst it is normal to experience feelings of anxiety and confusion regarding the results day process, my top tips to prepare for A-Level results day will hopefully ease those nerves and ensure that you’re prepared for all contingencies.

 

  1. Get organised

Firstly, make sure that all your personal details on UCAS are up to date. Whether your fortunes bring good news or bad news on the big day, it is vital that you actually receive the news! Ensure that you login to UCAS in advance, update your contact details if needed and have your track sign in details ready for the day.

Check how your exam results are obtained by your chosen universities. Normally, UCAS sends your results directly to your chosen university, who will then either accept or reject your place. However, this isn’t always the case so make sure to check if there are any steps you must take to secure your place at University.

Compose a list of important phone numbers and contact details. Specifically, I would advise writing down the phone number to the admissions departments for your top-choice university, insurance choice university and the UCAS clearing hotline.

Plan for what you expect in advance. Whilst things could go either way on the big day, start preparing for university life even before you get your results. For example, make arrangements including student finance and opening a student bank account way in advance, as these details can be easily changed wherever you end up.

Finally, don’t forget to organise the small details to stop the last-minute panic. How will you get to your school? What time does your school open? Is your mobile phone fully charged? Organising as much as you can before you actually receive the envelope will give you the greatest chance of success, whatever your results.

 

  1. Clear your schedule

One of the most important things on results day is ensuring that you are actually free. It may sound ridiculous, but keep the entire day free to allow you to celebrate all those years of hard study or have the optimal chance to make the most out of your situation. Check with your school or college what time they open for you to collect your results and attempt to get there for that time. Also, remember that UCAS Track opens at 8am on the big day, and try to log in as soon as possible to check whether you have got into your first choice university or need to make alternative plans.

 

  1. Understand Clearing

Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan. If you haven’t achieved the results you were hoping for, there are many opportunities to get a place at university through Clearing. Clearing is a match-making service, whereby UCAS matches students who do not have a university offer with university courses which still have vacancies. Clearing is officially open from July to September each year, and some universities list their vacancies in advance of results day. However, it’s important to remember that the majority of vacancies are posted on results day itself. For an official guide to Clearing, check out the UCAS Clearing guide at: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/results/no-offers-learn-how-clearing-works

 

If you haven’t met your grades, the first thing you should do is call up your chosen university anyway as they may still accept you or offer you an alternative course. Failing this, begin searching through UCAS Clearing to find a suitable match. Once you have discovered courses you are interested in which have places available, contact the admissions department directly to apply. I would advise talking to universities directly and researching them fully to ensure that you make the right choice. Here at Queen Mary, we will be operating a Unibuddy Clearing service. The Unibuddy Clearing service will provide an instant chatbox with our team of Ambassadors to guide you through any questions you may have about Queen Mary and hopefully bring some joy if you have received bad news.

 

  1. Understand Adjustment

Whilst many people prepare for the worst with regards to results day, it is also advisable to prepare for the best as there is a possibility that you could do better than expected. Perhaps, you haven’t applied to your dream university because you didn’t think your grades were good enough. Perhaps you’re now having doubts about your first choice after having received your results as they are better than expected. Essentially, Adjustment is the opposite of Clearing. It enables you to hold your offer with your first choice university whilst applying to other available options which match the grades you have achieved.  For an official guide to the Adjustment process, check out the UCAS Adjustment page at: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/results/ucas-adjustment-%E2%80%93-if-you%E2%80%99ve-done-better-expected

 

If you do choose to use the Adjustment process, remember that you have only 5 days to find an alternative place and make a formal agreement with your latest choice and that this decision is confirmed through UCAS. Unfortunately, there is no official listings for Adjustment vacancies, so you must call universities directly to explain your situation and apply for a place. Also note that Adjustment simply gives high achieving students the opportunities to open more doors; applying to a ‘better’ university does not necessarily mean that the university will be better for you as an individual.

 

  1. Relax

Finally remember that all the hard work is done. The grades that you have achieved are no longer within your control so worrying about them is simply wasted energy.  Despite my words of wisdom, I remember pacing backwards and forwards in my bedroom the night before results day, counting down the minutes until I knew my fate; causing myself unnecessary stress for no reason whatsoever. Instead, I would now recommend following the advice of one of my favourite professors and watching the abundancy of cat videos on Youtube or contemplating the Seven Wonders of the World to alleviate the anxiety.

 

Good luck!

A day in the life of a law student

Yes, there is as much reading as people tell you. And yes, you really do spend so much time in the library that it practically becomes your second home. Up to the challenge of a law degree? Read on for an insight into my typical Monday as a second-year law student…

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7:30 am Wake up

As my alarm goes up at 7.30am, I instantly get up and head down to the kitchen for breakfast, knowing that I have a busy day (make that week) ahead of me. Although my house mates may think its slightly strange for a student, I enjoy getting up early to seize the day and make good use of my time.

 

8.00 am Swim

Fortunately, we’re lucky enough to live right next to a gym and swimming pool, so I head to the pool for an early morning workout to prepare myself for the week ahead. When studying law, it is quite difficult to juggle the workload, a social life and exercise, but organisation is key to ensuring that you get the balance right.

 

10.30 am Leave for Uni

As the clock hits 10.30, my housemates and I assemble at the door for a walk to Uni, as we all begin lectures at 11am on a Monday. When selecting a house, living within walking distance of Queen Mary was high on our list of priorities, and we always have a great catch-up and a giggle along the way; a much more enjoyable journey than having to cram into the tube. Just before we leave, I always find time to grab a quick coffee to give myself a much needed caffeine fix for the long day ahead.

 

11 am Tort Law Lecture

As I make my way into my first lecture of the week, I always proceed to the same spot in the lecture hall to find my friends already there. We usually get the chance for a quick 5 minute catch-up before Professor Mulheron begins our two-hour tort lectures. Whilst Tort is a compulsory module for all second-year students, Professor Mulheron’s lectures are interesting and engaging, which makes the two-hour slot go considerably faster. We however leave the lecture exhausted, and upon reviewing my notes, I find that on a typical two hour lecture I have typed around 14 pages of notes.

 

1 pm Lunch Break

When our Tort Law lecture finishes, I race to meet my friends for lunch in an attempt to skip the queue. We usually head to Ground, which is a high-street style café ran by Queen Mary Student’s Union. With Ground offering a great range of sandwiches, salads and Sushi, we grab a (relatively) healthy lunch and settle in the comfy sofas to recharge our batteries, and our laptops, for the next lecture.

 

2 pm Administrative Law Lecture

Administrative law is a compulsory half-module for second year students, so I head to the luxury of Arts Two Lecture Theatre for an hour’s lecture on Administrative Law. The module focuses on ideas of administrative justice, and we learn about concepts such as judicial review and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

 

3 pm Library

After our Administrative Law lecture, I head to the library to tackle some of the reading set for the week ahead. With each module typically setting around 100 pages of reading per week, in addition to cases and journal reading, I try to stick to a schedule in order to keep up with the pace of the work load. On the way up the stairs, I often bump into fellow law students and we make our way to the designated law section of the library for mutual support as we begin working in silence.

 

5 pm Tort Law Tutorial

At 5pm, I make my way over to the law building for a Tort Law tutorial. Tutorials are typically taught in smaller groups of around 10 people, and you are assigned reading and questions for each week. Having done all the reading for the tutorial and prepared answers to the questions over the weekend, I settle down in the classroom ready to engage in discussion. Tort Law tutorials generally consist of a case presentation, followed by a lengthy problem question on a particular tort. After debating the intricate and controversial points of the law, we leave the tutorial at 6pm fulfilled by the knowledge gained, but often still disagreeing on the answers to a question!

 

6 pm Home Time

As it begins to get dark, I begin my walk home after my tutorial. When walking home alone, I call my mum for a catch-up and to let her know how my day has been. Wherever your parents are in the world, it’s always comforting to hear from them and to keep each other updated; although one of my greatest concerns is always how my horses and dogs are at home and if they have been behaving themselves without me!

 

6.30pm Dinner Time

I arrive home at 6.30 to my best friend waiting in the kitchen, with dinner ready for me. As cooking for yourself whilst at University can be expensive, time-consuming and require a lot of effort, we decide to cook for each other and have designated days to fit around one another’s schedule. As we tuck into great food, we discuss our day and often proceed to plan our next night out or holiday.

 

7pm Back to studying

Feeling full and satisfied, I then head to my room to continue studying. Monday nights often consist of Administrative Law reading for my oncoming tutorial later in the week, and I settle down to read and make notes on the textbook, before reading the assigned cases and journals to enable myself to answer the questions set.

 

11pm Bed time

By the time it reaches 11pm, I often begin yawning and my body clock tells me it’s time for bed.  Feeling exhausted, I climb into bed and set my alarm for my two-hour International Human Rights Seminar at 9am the following morning…

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!

Graduate Life

It has been a while since I last posted, I think my blogging duties must have gotten a little lost along the way in a sea of law books, dissertations and deadlines. BUT I have finally GRADUATED from Queen Mary with my Law degree and have successfully made it to the other side. The grass isn’t that much greener over here…

I am currently involved in what I like to think of as the Hunger Games for new graduates. We are all warned how tough and competitive the graduate job market is, but I don’t think it is possible to realise just how tough it is until you make it into the arena. I have applied for over 60 jobs at my last count and I have had 9 interview invitations. I have made it to the final 4, the final 3 and the final 2 (!) but I am still waiting to find the right opportunity for me.

I have predominantly been applying for jobs working for a Member of Parliament. My law degree taught me many things, including that I am not passionate about a traditional legal career. I have also applied for the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, and beat out 600 other contenders to make it to the final 2 for my matched Member of Parliament, only to fall at the final hurdle. I also made it to the Assessment Centre for the National Graduate Development Programme before falling here too. It is extremely tough, but I am convinced it will be worth it in the end. Plus, every interview and assessment centre is experience gained and makes the next interview (slightly) less nerve-wracking.

It has only been two months since graduation, so I’m not resigning myself to the graduate scrapheap just yet! Hopefully my next blog will be about my first week in my wonderful new job!

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. 

Homer-meme

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. 

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