1. Old Bailey:
WHERE: Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7EH
WHAT: The Old Bailey is one of the famous courts in the legal world, featuring in many fictional books and movies. Magistrates’ Courts and Crown Courts can be found up and down the country but there is only one Old Bailey, where some of the most explosive headline cases are heard. Going to a court of this tenure can teach you a lot about how the law is applied, and allow you to see some of the best legal minds in action. More importantly going to court can be a good experience to see whether or not you feel a career in law is right for you.
2. Access To Commercial Law Firms:
WHERE: University fairs, law firm open days, career presentations, firm presentations etc
WHAT: Nearly all the biggest and best law firms in the world have their head office or an office in London. Being based in this city means you will have an advantage in gaining much more opportunities to get into contact with some of finest lawyers in the country. Often lawyers from different firms will come to your university in presentations or discussions, organised by the careers services. It is important to make the most of these especially in first year as before you know it, you will be a third year law student – where busy has a whole new definition!
HOW: Luckily within commercial law, there are a quite a few first year opportunities which you can make the most of. Getting into one of the first year schemes will put you in a good position ahead of applying for second year vacation schemes. Here is list first year schemes, open days which you could apply for. I have been fortunate enough to experience some of these myself at both magic circle and silver circle firms. My one tip therefore, would be to apply in good time and early, because in the midst of tutorials, revision and essay deadlines, it can be hard to do balance everything at once.
3. Access To Inns Of Court:
WHERE: Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple are all located within the same of area of London. The Inns with their grandeur buildings (often likened to the Harry Potter Hogwarts), are steeped with history, dating back to the 14th century.
WHAT: To be a member of Bar in England and Wales then it is a must that you become member of one of the four Inns of Court. During university studies you can have the opportunity to visit these in one of the many events that are held throughout the year for students.
HOW: Here in Queen Mary you can become a member of the Bar Society which hold many events, panel discussion and dinners with the Inns of Court. Simply become a member of the society. As an example, I attended an open day at the Inner Temple recently, and was pleasantly surprised about how much the roles and cultures of being a solicitor and being a barrister differ. Occasions such as these can entail discussions with some of the most acclaimed QC’s on topics which range from the skills of a barrister and increasingly since legal aid cuts, the changing landscape in the legal world. These events are definitely worthwhile in gaining a better understanding of the Bar, becoming a barrister and the role of the different Inns.
4. Connections – It’s Not What You Know But Who You Know:
WHAT: Networking – to interact with others, exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Something you’re going to hear a lot throughout your university degree is the importance of networking. There is no one place to get connections, but you can be sure through campus events, firm events and other activities you’ll someday meet someone who inspires you or interests you. This does not necessarily even have to be someone who works in your field of interest, but can even be a fellow student.
HOW: Networking, if you have never heard of it, done it or are shy, may seem like a daunting prospect at first. Not to worry! Here is an effective checklist put together by CIO.com so you can check if you’re doing it right.
5. Best Universities:
WHERE: University of London
WHAT: To quote from the people themselves ‘The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. The teaching is carried out by the 17 Colleges and Institutes that comprise the University. When studying with the University you belong to a particular College as well as the University of London itself. This allows students to have access to a wide range of facilities and services.’’ This includes Queen Mary, Kings College, LSE and UCL who are all in top 10 for Law.
HOW: When making applications to universities in your final year of studies be sure to include these top universities. I may be biased but Queen Mary’s School of Law really is one of the best and I believe is quite underrated when it comes to both teaching and what it has to offer to students. Luckily you can come and see for yourself, click here for more details.
6. Choice Of Libraries
WHERE: In addition to the dozen or so local libraries you’ll have whatever borough in London you live, this city also has some award winning libraries you can go to. This includes the British Library, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, Senate House Library + your university library.
WHAT: You will soon find that as law student (if you’re doing things correctly) that the majority of your time should be spent in the library. However sometimes a change in scenery, without losing the revision in between, can actually do wonders for your learning. London has some of the best libraries and one should make the most of them, especially since they are free.
HOW: Check the opening times and criteria (e.g whether they require membership), of each library, as they may differ.