Christmas is finally over, presents opened, food eaten, drunk...too much and too often. Now is the time to be settling down to your kitchen or dining table or desk if you're lucky enough to start the arduous task of getting through the mountain of holiday homework you were given two weeks ago, as well as making a start on any essays and a start on your dissertation which is due in about four months. Think about how quickly the last four have gone and you realise that it really needs to be started asap!
I have been slowly doing my reading over the past couple of weeks, but that is sure to go out of the window now I have a Kindle, and a new PS3 game that I've had my eye on, but where to focus? Criminal? Equity? EU? Public? Tort? There is so much to do and so little time in which to do it. If there is one thing that I hope any reader gleans from this blog is that time management is the ONLY way you'll make a success out of this course, and put yourself in a position to compete for a training contract or pupillage.
There are so many 'best of 2011' or '2011 roundup' or similar article floating around at the moment that I will do my best to summarise the last four months, so that anybody that comes across this blog in the hope of getting every last ounce of information on the GDL prior to applying might know what they're in for.
It comes thick and fast, far more than you expect. The workload is quite something, to learn seven core legal areas in a year; it's a case of "we'll teach you chapters one and two, you read three, four and five on your own, and then we'll test you on chapters one to seven". The pace at which you do learn is quite incredible, only three months ago, my knowledge of law covered only that which was on Law & Order UK. But now, I can, and do with some competence, work in a (very) small law firm, unpaid naturally.
Throw in the desperate need for some work experience; mini pupillages or shadowing, which will take a whole week here and there throughout the year of you're lucky enough to get one. Also, any legal aid work at the Citizens Advice (which expects a commitment of a minimum of one day a week) or FRU which requires, as I am led to understand it, some considerable evening work. Both of these roles expect you to work hard and, to get the absolute most out of it, you'll need to network your little wannabe lawyery ass off.
My social life has taken something of a hit, and I don't watch many films or much TV these days just to stay on top of all the homework, CAB homework and general legal reading. But that is the reality of enrolling on the GDL.
In terms of the lectures and reading, everyone has their favourites, mine is contract and criminal, so I find the reading for them enjoyable and interesting... the challenge comes when you have to read subjects that you are not a fan of - equity and EU for me. They just fly right over my head. Aside from great time management, you need the discipline to ensure you understand all the key principles of every subject.
The lecture structure is fairly straight forward, 3 hours of each subject every week - including seminars. You're generally given two weeks to prepare answers for three of four questions. It is straightforward enough, but every topic requires extensive reading, so like so many GDL students, find a spot you like in the library and use it often.
Also, something I could not find anywhere on the internet prior to enrolling - marking is pass/merit/distinction and the fail mark is set at 50%, so a little higher than at undergraduate level.
Hmm, I could go on much, much longer but am short of space; I will open it up to any questions - If anybody has any questions/if anybody even reads this column, if that is indeed what you can call these un-succinct ramblings, then do not hesitate to get in contact via here if possible or through twitter.