Most competitions are in full swing and many of you will have had at least one round of the competition already. Christmas is approaching (although it is still November, so no Christmas Music and no Christmas trees until the 1st December people!), the drinks are flowing, and Christmas parties are in full swing but the nights are dark, it is wet and miserable and you are seriously broke. With approximately £3.29 in your bank you are contemplating whether the pound shop do credit so you can buy presents for everyone. Ah the student life.
For most of us deadlines and exams are looming and it is very easy to let stress overtake your life and make you want to hibernate under the duvet. Balancing university workload, extra-curricular activities, jobs, other commitments and a social life is like trying to wrestle with a lion but there things you can do to not lose sight of the end goal.
To do the best for your client you need to make sure you are looking after yourself too and parallels can be drawn between your experiences in interviewing clients and practicing self-care. Care about yourself as much as you care about your clients. Of course, adopting a caring perspective doesn’t mean you have to be caught up in a client’s personal life or that you convince yourself sleeping all week long is the way forward but there are things you can do to try and stay ahead.
A massive part of a lawyer’s life is organisation. Developing these skills will benefit you far beyond the world of academia. If you have progressed to the next stage, make sure you keep copies of your interview plans, structure and any feedback to look back on before you progress to the next stage. There is often a little gap between the internal competitions and the regional heats and it is so easy to forget everything. If you are not actively studying the area of law as part of your current programme of study, or it has been a while since you did, then keep up-to-date on current issues. Even if it is just a quick scroll through The Times law section every week, just to see if there are any new developments. If you do it regularly it will become routine and may also help you with other aspects of your studies.
This is also a perfect opportunity for self-reflection. Look at the judging criteria again and remind yourself about what you are being judged on. Have you asked for feedback? If not, why not? Feedback is a good way of learning what you did well and how you can improve. Peer review is so important, so sit down with your partner and talk about what worked and what you need to work on (over a cocktail or two usually works wonders! Well it is nearly Christmas). Constructive criticism is always useful and will help you grow.
If your weakness is inviting the client in and building a rapport, then practice. If it was the legal advice, then research the area and make sure you know the law but be careful not to overdo this as it can make you over-confident. If your weakness is questioning, then read up on the types of questions you are asking and jot down some examples. Are you asking a good opening question and then building a chronology? If your weakness is next steps, then practice how you end your interview.
Do not lose your momentum. Winning the competition or even just getting into the national finals will look amazing on your CV and make you stand out in the crowd. Employers are looking for students who can demonstrate skills obtained outside a university setting and the competition is a good way of developing your skills in a safe environment, where it is okay to make mistakes now.
Practice what you preach – learn how to develop and care for yourself!