Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Recent Developments in the Law - Preparing for Law Exams

Part of the preparation for law exams, is ensuring you are up to date with the current position in the law.  Unlike a dealer in tangible commodities, there is nothing tangible that a client leaves a lawyer's office with, having parted company with a substantial sum (which is undoubtedly the reason lawyers are not necessarily 'flavour of the month').  As such, I feel it is important to always bear in mind, that effectively, there are only two things a lawyer sells -- his time and his knowledge.  Thus, if he is not up to date in his knowledge, he is, by all accounts, selling 'stale goods'.  It is in the preparation of law exams that you cultivate this practice of keeping up to date in your legal knowledge.

There are some topics which require more cultivation than others.  So, for example, when one considers trust law, or land law, or even contract and commercial law, these tend to be fairly settled areas.  So much so, that when a case comes along it creates quite a stir (think Stack v Dowden in land and Shogun Finance in contract).  Other areas though, need a fair bit of constant particular, English Legal System (CLRI), Public Law, EU Law, Labour Law, and to some extent, Family Law and Criminal Law.

Focusing on ELS/CLRI, Public and EU specifically, these three subjects are extremely dynamic (so they are always undergoing constant change), and you need to ensure that you keep up with the daily commentary, news and updates.  So, for example, when you consider legal services, and the provision of legal aid, recently there have been considerations to change the way personal injury litigation and its funding is dealt with.  Equally, with Public Law, the House of Lords reforms have seen some strange happenings based on the Coalition government's inability to come to some logical agreement; and in respect of the EU, there has been the murmurings of the UK's potential (really?) departure.  As such, you don't need to 'reinvent the wheel'.  You should not plagiarise...EVER...but by reading and analysing the commentary from credible commentators, you can see the cogency of the arguments for and against a particular topic.  You can then build on that with your own views and the evidence and facts of the particular topic.

Most syllabuses have a 'cut off' date by when you need to know the law on a particular area that will be tested; so, for example, the University of London International Programme's requirement is that you will be tested on the law as it was as at February 15th of the year that you are sitting the exams.  That said, if there has been dramatic changes since February 15th, and you have kept abreast of the changes, then you really should push for a 'higher mark' by showing your knowledge to the examiner (if it's relevant of course!) by showing that you are aware of the position relative to the question, and respond to it in an intellectual manner; and not necessarily stick to the law as at the cut off date.

Don't just confine your reasoning to what you have read in the textbooks.  Ensure that you keep up to date on the law in a particular area.  Ensure you visit websites such as the,,, all of which have internal searches.  Whilst these are all free, you could subscribe to the times at  It costs £8.99 per month but is really good value as there is a student law section each week, it is searchable, and there is the bonus of the law reports.

Lastly, by keeping up to date on the current position in the law, it emphasises and displays your research added bonus in your law start reading!!! (NOTE: I have tried to place interesting links on my Facebook page that you can read current commentary on certain topics).

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