We are one of many professional groups, whose day-to-day lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, this has left a lot of students panicking about the disruptions to their daily routines, including me. Frustration is just one of the many words I would use to describe the lack of certainty that many students are feeling around this time. So, this is a pick-me-up to encourage and remind you that you are not in this alone. We are all trying to get a sense of our new ‘normal’ and I hope this gives you ideas on how to stay productive and positive.
- RELAX, RECUPERATE, REST.
Shocked? Please don’t be. Honestly speaking, this will probably be the closest to an involuntary break, you will get for a while. Do not spend your time measuring yourself up to Instagram posts about why you need to leave this quarantine having burnt yourself out to be deemed ‘productive’. Embrace this time off and discipline yourself to have down time away from your work, studying, social media and any other distractions. This is also a great time for you to take some time for your mental health. Sometimes it’s okay to be at peace with doing nothing.
- GET ORGANISED
Time management is a skill that will be best learnt in this time. If you can master the art of prioritising and scheduling, you have gained a valuable skill. Find a balance in studying and taking time to look after yourself. As juvenile as it may sound, it may help to create a weekly timetable. To do this, it may help to set realistic goals. I usually do this on a Sunday to start my week off properly. Plan your day to the letter, if it helps to do so by writing your plans down. It is often very easy to say you will get an SGS completed on Tuesday and this does not happen. You will probably find more success with breaking it down into the hours of the day: i.e. ‘I will complete page 56-70 between 11:00 and 12:00.’ Finally, on this point, it may help to get an accountability partner i.e. someone from your SGS class, a friend, partner or parent, to hold you accountable to the plans you said you would do for the day.
- LEARN/IMPROVE ON NEW SKILLS
This is probably the best time to learn new skills that you would not usually have the time to invest in. These do not have to be legal specific, but can also be transferable. I believe it will show great character and initiative on an application if you can show that you learnt a new language for example, to a competent level. Firms and chambers are always looking for lawyers who can speak another language to communicate and engage with clients. There quite a few apps that offer the opportunity to learn another language i.e. ‘Duolingo’ or ‘Babbel’. You may even take this time to work on skills you already possess, i.e. advocacy. The Inns of Court College of Advocacy are offering online training courses on Pupillage Advocacy Training and others.
- PRO BONO
There are many pro bono opportunities available at this time as clients will need more assistance due to social distancing measures. Pro bono opportunities will be done over the phone or online, and will require commitment as and when you’re available. There are plenty of initiatives that you can get involved in. Websites such as Law Careers Net and the National Pro Bono Centre. The Pro Bono Centre at BPP (if you are a student at the law school) are also offering opportunities as the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have meant a change in relating with clients. You will find helpful resources on the sites recommended and such opportunities are a chance for a different and new experience on the legal landscape.
- LEGAL WORLD
As much as the news screams ‘doom and gloom’ it is important to stay updated with the updates with the legal industry and how this affects various groups within society, most importantly, clients. You can do this through various mediums. ‘Finimize’ is a useful website, where you can subscribe to emails for commercial updates. Podcasts are also useful, ‘The Daily’ offers updates on the effects that COVID-19 has had on both clients and lawyers alike and how they are navigating those issues. ‘The Essex Barrister’ – well known on Twitter, is offering free webinars on different sectors on the legal industry with a panel of speakers who work in the particular field. They are particularly helpful and offer the opportunity for students to ask questions.
There will most definitely be students, who you know, who are currently studying the LLB/GDL or aim to begin in September. In your free time, it may be an idea to offer some tips or advice to students who are struggling to cope with the workload during this time. It is exam season for a lot of students at undergraduate level, it may be an idea to share your archived notes or offer a one-to-one session to a student you may know. I’m sure that these students will appreciate a guiding hand, through such a confusing time.
Remember to try and stay positive and be kind to yourself. Allow yourself downtime and balance this with studies, your interests and good periods of rest. I cannot stress the importance of fresh air. You will have heard this on the news several times but fresh air, once a day, definitely helps with clearing your head and mentally discarding yourself from your ‘mundane’ surroundings. You have the freedom to spend lockdown as you wish, do not feel pressured to measure up to others expectations, do what is best for you. Hopefully, we get to see each other in the near future, something to look forward to!
“We’re all in this together!”