A week in the life of a Law student

Hi I’m Aaron, and I’m a third year student at the York Law School [YLS]. I’ve had a great time at York so far, from getting involved in Student Representation to trying out Quidditch in my first week! There are so many opportunities to get involved in a range of sports, societies or work! To help you try and help you imagine what life is like here, I’ve written a blog about what a week looks like for me.

A quick note before we begin, as you undertake a dissertation in third year, you have a lot less contact time than you would have in Year 1 and 2. In your first two years you can expect to have an average of 14-16 hours per week.

Monday

Today I only have a 2-hour PBL session starting at 2:30pm.

Before that, I have an appointment at the Writing Centre, located over in the library on Campus West.  The Writing Centre is able to provide advice on how to develop your writing skills. I have an EU Law assignment that I am doing at the moment and I am having some trouble structuring it, so I had appointment where I sat with a tutor who was able to give me some advice on the structure of my essay and how to develop it.

As I had a bit of time until my PBL session, I stayed in the library until 1:30pm and did some work for my elective module [which I will talk about more below]. I have a few articles to read in preparation of that seminar, so I make notes on one before I go back to Campus East to the Law and Management Building for my PBL session. This session is with members of my Student Law Firm as well as a tutor. The first part of the session involves feeding back from the problem we received a week ago. The main aim of PBL is ‘learning by doing’, so by breaking a problem down you end up with 5-6 learning outcomes which helps you understand all the issues within the problem.

This week our problem came from the Public Law 2 Module, where we looked at International law and obligation relating to child refugees and asylum seekers. We discussed the UK’s international obligations as well as discussing human trafficking and how to protect children from it. The second part of the session we receive a new problem. We appoint a chairperson to chair the session and a scribe to make notes of the session. We work through the problem in a methodical way by following this process: identifying unclear terms, identifying the key parties and their interests, a chronology of the events and then end by establishing learning outcomes to go away and research. These sessions are interactive and are led by the Student Law Firms, tutors will listen to the feedback that everyone contributes and ensures that all the key areas of the problem have been researched with the relevant statute and case law.

Tuesday

Today is one of my busiest days. I have an EU Law plenary at 10:30am. At YLS we have plenaries, not lectures! A plenary is basically an interactive lecture. Today’s lecture is on the Brexit Negotiations and Article 50. The slides for the plenary usually get put on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) at least 24 hours before the lecture. This is really useful as I am able to go through the slides before the plenary and do some background reading to make sure that I am able to get the most out of the plenary. This was a really interesting plenary as it de-bunked a lot of the information being produced by both sides.

At 12:00, I have a dissertation supervision. All 3rd year Law students have to undertake a 10,000-word dissertation of their choice. I have decided to write my dissertation on whether contracts can be created through the use of electronic communications. For your dissertation, you have an academic supervisor who is able to advice you on your topic and how to structure your dissertation. For today’s supervision, I am meeting with my supervisor and the other 5 people he is supervising. We use this session to discuss what we have been finding difficult and our supervisor gave us some hints and tips about writing out dissertations and how to conduct research effectively.

Finally, I have a meeting from 5pm – 7pm. This year, I was selected to be the YLS Department Representative for the Student Union. The department representative is an academic representative who lobbies both their department and the University about issues within their department. So every two weeks we meet up at the Students Union to discuss what is going on within our department and how we can work across departments to improve the student experience. This week we discussed learning spaces and we spoke about the new Piazza building on Campus East. We spoke about the new Learning Centre in the building and how it’s great that we don’t always have to go over to the library to find a space to work in.

Wednesday

I usually spend my Wednesday on completing applications for jobs and internships.  Every Wednesday our Employability tutor, Chris Wilkinson, invites guest speakers from a range of sectors to discuss about career opportunities in those sectors, as well as useful hints and tips for the application and interview process. This week The University of Law has come in to a workshop on Assessment Centres. This was really useful for me as I have a few Assessment Centres coming up over the next month or so. At an assessment centre you can expect to take part in a group exercise, an interview and a written exercise. We got to try each of those exercises and received feedback from an experienced recruiter.

I also have a meeting called ‘Board of Studies’. As the Department Representative, I get to sit in this meeting with a range of lectures and support staff within YLS, we have discussions about the course and whether there are any issues. We also talk about new a third year module in Environmental law which looks really interesting and is taught by two world leading researchers at YLS.

As I have sent most of my day on careers and extra-curricular activities, I spend some time in the in the evening going through my notes from my Dissertation Supervision from Tuesday, and I plan how I am going to use the tips my supervisor gave us. I decide to email my supervisor to have a talk through one of my chapters and see if he has any tips on finding academic sources. As my research topic is quite niche, I have been struggling to find adequate sources for my chapter.

Thursday

Today I don’t start until 11:30, so I have a well-deserved lie-in! To begin with I have a Public Law plenary. Public Law involves three areas of law: Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Judicial Review. Today’s lecture is: ‘A Practitioner’s Guide to Judicial Review’.  Judicial Review is the way an ordinary citizen can challenge the decision making of a Public Body. This is going to be useful for our Coursework at the end of term as we are going to have to draft a judicial review form. The plenary was extremely useful as our lecturer gave us some really useful tips about how to draft a judicial review form and what the key ‘sticking points’ in law can be. As all of our plenaries are recorded, I spent some time after the plenary going through it again to make sure that I understood all of the content covered.

As I have no other contact time that day, I spent the rest of the day researching my Learning Outcomes for my PBL session next Monday. On the VLE there is a Learning Guide, which outlines the topics that need to be researched this week and includes links to some textbook chapters that should be read for the PBL session. At YLS, we have ‘Law Trove’, which is an online library of legal textbooks. This is really great as it means that we don’t have to carry around so many textbooks all the time. As well as that, it means we have access to our key texts from pretty much anywhere! Each PBL usually takes about 5-6 hours to complete.

Today it’s my friends’ birthday, so we are going out! York is a great city to go out in as there is so many things to do. We start off at the Courtyard which is a bar that is run by the Students Union. We then go into town, where there is a range of things to do. Whether you want to go to a jazz or comedy night, or whether you want to try a cocktail bar, there is so much to do.

Friday

Friday starts quite early as our Elective Module results are released today. All of our results are released online and we get an email to notify us when the results are available! My module last term was a Corporate/Commercial Case study [It’s called Advanced PBL]. We had to produce a letter for our client and a portfolio of research on an areas of law related to corporate/commercial. I managed to do quite well, so I was really pleased.

Later in the day I meet with my group from my elective module. This term I am doing Corporate Social Responsibility and Law. This module looks at how a business functions and whether business structures allow for responsible behaviour of large corporations. I am meeting with my group this morning as we are giving a presentation. We meet to finalise the details of the presentation and practice going through it with the speakers as well.  We have a real range of assessment methods. For CSR, we have presentations, group essays and an individual essay.

During our seminar, each group gives their presentation to our module leader, and it goes really well! After all the presentations, we have a discussion in class about the balance of power in an employment relationship e.g the relationship between an employee and a large corporation. This was an interesting debate as we talked about whether the relationship was equal, and how the law should be amended to make sure the relationship is equal.

Finally, this evening, my housemates and I decide to have a house meal. We try to have a meal together at least once a month. Sometimes we get a takeaway, but today we decided to make fajitas! They were really good, although the washing up at the end was the worst bit!

So this has been an insight into my life at YLS, I hope that it will help inform what is a really important decision. Whether you decide York is the place for you or not, I wish you the best of luck for the future!