Holly Golding achieved a First in LLB Law at the University of Liverpool and is a future trainee solicitor with Eversheds Sutherland. You can view her Linkedin here.
What do you think is the biggest misconception students have about what it takes to get a first in law?
‘I think a big misconception is that you need to spend endless hours in the library. These days it’s more about working smart than working hard. It is not always about how many hours you spend studying, but how you use that time. My key tip is to be organised to ensure you have balance. Before approaching a piece of work or revision, make a plan, allocate a certain amount of time and stick to deadlines. This way you can avoid becoming bored and unfocused.’
‘there are some simple things that you can do to make yourself stand out as someone deserving of a high mark.’
What did you do differently to get a first?
‘The main thing for me was originality! Imagine you’re a lecturer and you’ve read hundreds of essays which all say the same thing. As a student there are some simple things that you can do to make yourself stand out as someone deserving of a high mark. The secret is, most of the time in law, there is a particular tension in that area of the law that the lecturer wants you to address and resolve. A first class answer not only tells you what the law is but also what is wrong with the law and how it can be reformed.
To achieve this level of analysis, I did further reading and used academic articles to support my arguments. Going beyond the recommended reading can really help show your breadth of knowledge. I not only recited facts of cases, but also used quotes from judges to demonstrate that I fully understand the rationale behind the judgement. The commentary around the law can offer you different views, which can later be discussed in your essays.’
How did you answer problem questions and did you have a formula?
‘Problem questions are all about how you apply the law to a set of facts in front of you. You need to have clear knowledge of the legal concepts in which the question relates and then cover relevant cases and statutes to help you come to a conclusion. The following structure exemplifies this:
I – issue: identify the issue facing the party in the scenario.
R – rule: explain the relevant statutes and case law in this area.
A – application: use the information in the scenario and decide if any of the legal rules apply to the specific facts and why.
C – conclude: explain what you think the outcome should be.’
What one piece of advice would you give students about what to do on a consistent basis if they want a first in law?
‘I would say you need to be consistently making good notes. It’s too late to start condensing lengthy lectures notes right before your exam, and therefore it’s good practice to organise your notes from day one. At the end of every week, look back through your materials and put them in a format that will help make them memorable to you, whether that is flash cards, mind maps, or flowcharts. This will save you time in the long run, as when it comes to revision you can focus on re-visiting the essential elements which you’ve already understood, rather than spending a lot of time creating neat notes.
Law students will know that there is a lot of information and reading. Try not to leave things until the last minute. I started university really wanting a first class and that played a huge role in my success. Once you are determined, you won’t even notice the extra effort. If you are consistently consolidating from the outset, you will feel more prepared for the assessment.’