Away from your textbooks
As a law student, you'll be spending a lot of time with your textbooks. If you need a break, we've collected together some other resources you might find helpful and interesting. But don't worry, they're all law related, so it won't count as procrastination!
You don't need us to tell you you can find almost anything online. What you might need though are some helpful hints for reliable online resources to get you through your law degree.
- First off - most of your recommended textbooks will come with online resources that can include everything from self-test questions to games to video mini-lectures. Make as much use of these as you can: its a different way of learning so will help shake up your normal routine. Take a look at our online resources >
- Keeping on top of current affairs is really important as a law student - lecturers like to make their seminars topical! Try to keep an eye on a couple of reliable news sites, and if they have a 'law' section so much the better. Or you might want to bookmark sites like The Lawyer and All About Law, which will give you a more tailored look at the legal aspects of big news stories.
- Worried about the money side of university? Authors of Personal Finance, Jane King and Mary Carey, give their top tips for budgeting, student loans, and choosing a student bank account.
- If you're more concerned about the university experience than your course, you might want to take a look at our advice for freshers.
Many legal academics and practitioners blog about their work and the law in general. Over the course of your degree you'll probably come across a lot of them, but here are a couple to get you started:
And of course you'll find some of them on Twitter too...
- @mjhomewood - EU law specialist and author of EU Law Concentrate and Complete EU Law
- @horseyrackley - authors of Tort Law tweeting about tort-related current affairs
- @StevePeers - University of Essex Professor of Law and author of European Union Law
- @OUPLaw - news, commentary, and insights from the Law team at Oxford University Press.
It's always worth checking if your lecturers are on Twitter - lots of teachers use their feeds to point their students in the direction of interesting articles, videos, and news stories that will give you vital context for your studies. It should also help highlight what the key current issues in the subject area are, which could help in your exams!
You can also check out Legal Cheek's top ten best legal social media users of 2020 here.
On the big screen
We asked Martin Partington, author of Introduction to the English Legal System, for his top ten film recommendations for law students. What would you add to his list?
1. Twelve Angry Men (1957)
This US film is set in the jury room, where 12 jurors have to decide the outcome of a seemingly open and shut case. In the UK, no one knows precisely what goes on in the jury room. Direct participant research is prohibited by law. So dramas like this offer a version of what might happen. One question to ponder: how do you think the verdict might have differed if the jury had been told it could reach a majority verdict (possible in England and Wales) rather than a unanimous one?
2. The Paper Chase (1973)
Another US film features a first year law student’s experience of taking a class in contract under the supervision of the fearsome Professor Kingsfield. It shows how the much vaunted socratic method of legal education – where students are fiercely quizzed by their professors – works in practice. You may end up relieved that your course is demanding in different ways! The intellectual limitation of the film is the suggestion that all legal education is about textual analysis of cases and statutes. It takes no account of the social importance of law. For a different take on the law school experience, you could try Legally Blonde (2001).
3. In the Name of the Father (1993)
This is an Irish-British-American film based on the story of the Guildford Four, four people falsely convicted of the 1974 IRA‘s Guildford pub bombings, which killed four off-duty British soldiers and a civilian. The story is important as it formed part of the background to major changes in the criminal justice system of England and Wales, including the creation of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service. Warning: its portrayal of the trial process is a travesty of reality – it should not be taken as any sort of representation of what happens in practice.
A reading list for aspiring lawyers
We asked Public Law authors John Stanton and Craig Prescott for their book recommendations for law students and young lawyers who want to read something other than a textbook!
The Innocent Man by John Grisham
Though Grisham is better known for his crime thrillers, The Innocent Man is Grisham's first non-fiction book, telling the true story of Ron Williamson. Williamson was wrongly accused of murdering a waitress and, despite no substantial evidence, he was convicted and sentenced to death. After constant efforts to prove his innocence, and at one point getting as close as five days from a scheduled execution, Williamson's innocence was eventually determined by DNA evidence. He was released from prison after 11 years on death row. Miscarriages of justice are a very real danger in legal systems across the world. Those dangers become more pressing where imposition of a death penalty is involved.
In Your Defence by Sarah Langford
This book is about eleven different cases in which Langford has served as defence counsel. Through these accounts, Langford offers a thought-provoking insight into the troubles and challenges of everyday people faced with the traumas of legal action. Cases range from those involving criminal charges of sexual activity in a public lavatory to family cases exploring questions surrounding the welfare of children.
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ginsburg was sworn in as an associate justice of the US Supreme Court in August 1993, appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton. This book comprises various selected writings including speeches, academic papers, lectures, and judgements. The attraction of this book lies in the incredible mark that Ginsburg has made on the legal world. Though she has set out many an important judgement, particularly those offering more liberal perspectives, it is her role as a leading woman in the law that is most notable. When Ginsburg started out at Harvard Law School, less than 3% of the US legal profession was female. Through her incredible career this is an inequality that Ginsburg has relentlessly fought to address, becoming a bastion of gender equality and the role of women in the law.
Read the full list of John and Craig's recommendations, here.
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