Male student studying in his room

Get a head start on your studies in law with this selection of books, blogs, podcasts, videos, tv shows and films

  • 21 August 2020
  • 9 min read

Congratulations on accepting a place to start a law degree this Autumn! Studying Law opens up many opportunities in both legal and non-legal professions.

Before you start your studies, you might be wondering how to prepare? Here are our top 6 resources you can use to get a head start in Law. 

1. Books

You'll have plenty of time to dive into legal textbooks during your course, but there are lots of other books around Law you might find interesting to read before starting. 

We suggest:

  • Letters to a Law Student: A guide to studying law at university by Nicholas J McBride – This book relays lots of advice to would-be law students, telling you everything you need to know before embarking on your first year of legal study. 
  • The Insider’s Guide to Legal Skills by Emily Allbon and Sanmeet Kaur Dua – A great book detailing all the skills you will ever need to make a successful law student. It’s a really helpful resource for students just starting out and wanting to learn how to write and structure legal assessments.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Harper Lee’s 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a child’s view of race and justice in the Depression-era South.

2. Blogs

If you can’t find the time to get stuck into a book, then looking at some blogs is a great idea. Blogs are usually more current, and discuss a range of legal topics to keep you up to date on your favourite area of law.

Have a look at:

  • The Secret Barrister – This blog is run by the anonymous ‘Secret Barrister’, a blogger and author who provides “a candid and accessible account of the reality of criminal law in action”. In addition to articles by the Secret Barrister, the blog publishes guest posts by legal professionals on a variety of legal issues.
  • UK Human Rights Blog – This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers and contains interesting and easily accessible articles on legal topics, from human rights, to public, medical and environmental law.
  • Public Law for Everyone – Professor Mark Elliott  – Mark is Professor of Public Law and Chair of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He also served, from 2015 to 2019, as Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution. This blog contains articles on constitutional law, public law and human rights. 
What to listen to to prepare for a law degree

3. Podcasts

If you prefer your information in audio format, podcasts are ideal. You can listen anytime, often when doing something else like exercise, cooking or housework to help pass the time.

Some good listens:

  • BBC Radio 4 – Law in Action – Joshua Rozenberg presents Radio 4’s long-running legal magazine programme, featuring reports and discussion on matters relating to law.
  • The Lawyer Portal – A useful resource for all aspiring lawyers and law students, which includes a podcast. The podcast features industry professionals and there are some wide-ranging and interesting episodes in the podcast, including in episode 3, a discussion with the Secret Barrister.
  • Law Pod UK – Law Pod UK is a podcast from the creators of the UK Human Rights blog, produced by barristers of 1 Crown Office Row, and hosted by Rosalind English and Emma-Louise Fenelon. It is a must for all law students.

4. Videos

Short videos can be a great way to get information quickly. Videos have the added benefit of giving visual explanations to complex legal theory.

Check out:

  • Lawcareer.net – a comprehensive, one-stop online resource for future lawyers.
  • The Law Simplified – A series of short, concise and easy-to-follow videos covering subjects you’ll study in your law degree.
  • Vice – This video from Vice gives a tongue in cheek example of how Laws can become outdated and appear ridiculous!
Student working in her room

5. TV

Yes – we are suggesting you watch some more TV. There are plenty of courtroom dramas and legal thrillers to choose from. Although these are dramatised, they’re often based on true events and can give a good depiction of legal proceedings.

Our favourites:

  • Law and Order UK (ITV) – UK version of the long-running U.S. TV drama that tells the stories of two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.
  • The Witness for the Prosecution (BBC) – The hunt is on to find the murderer of a wealthy glamorous heiress who is found dead in her London townhouse. Based on the short story by Agatha Christie.
  • Murder, Mystery and My Family (BBC) – Two leading British criminal barristers investigate historic murder cases on behalf of a relative of the person convicted of the crime. They then present any new evidence to a judge for assessment.

6. Films

Embrace the only time you’ll get films set as homework, and enjoy some of these blockbusters.

Must watches:

  • Official Secrets – The true story of a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 
  • Dark Waters – A corporate defence attorney takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution.
  • Runaway Jury – A juror on the inside and a woman on the outside manipulate a court trial involving a major gun manufacturer.

You should find some of these law-related activities a great way to  prepare for starting a Law degree. 

If you’re starting at the University of Portsmouth this autumn and you have any questions or concerns, then please get in touch with our Admissions tutor Caroline at caroline.baynes@port.ac.uk.

 

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