I’m Sarah Carter, an LPC student and Practical Law Student Ambassador at the University of Law in Bristol. I applied for the Practical Law Student Ambassador position after using Practical Law on the GDL, as I recognised that it would be a great opportunity to show other students how useful it can be, as well as being able to further my own knowledge of everything that Practical Law has to offer. As a resource which is used widely by lawyers in practice, I thought that promoting the use of Practical Law amongst students could only be a good thing for everyone involved!
As an ambassador, my main job is to show students how Practical Law can help them with their studies, in preparing for training contract interviews and also with their future legal careers. I do this through a combination of e-mails, events, drop-in sessions and advertisements placed around the centre. Below, I have outlined what is involved in a typical week.
Practical Law E-mails
Each week I prepare Practical Law e-mails to send to GDL and LPC students on my mailing list. These are aimed at encouraging students to use Practical Law by demonstrating how they can use the resources to further understand the areas they cover on their course.
For GDL students, the emails contain links to resources on Practical Law that will help them to understand the legal issues that they are covering in their workshops each week. These resources are usually aimed at overviews of particularly difficult or important areas of law for each of their subjects. For example, in the tort module, negligence forms a large part of the course so it is useful to include resources on the different types of negligence, as well as links to important cases that can be found on Westlaw. Adding links to glossary terms help students to understand key legal definitions. Keeping up-to-date with the GDL timetable is important so that my e-mails follow the structure of the course. This is particularly significant when students have exams or large pieces of coursework. For exam periods, I compile a large list of resources to help students with revision, and for coursework deadlines I will remind them of Practical Law drop-in sessions and encourage students to e-mail me with any queries.
For LPC students, my e-mails are also focused around the workshops that students have each week. However, they are usually more extensive as I will include links to standard documents alongside practice notes in particular areas of law. Since March, the time I put into preparing these e-mails has increased further to accommodate the different LPC elective modules that are available to students on the second half of the LPC. These e-mails are tailored to the structure of the LPC course and include detailed revision e-mails around exam period.
I usually hold around three hours of drop-in session each week. Primarily, these take place in the library and I expect to see two to three students per session. Most of the queries involve how to search on Practical Law, how to use the standard documents and sometimes how to use more advanced features such as the Q&A tool to compare the law across different countries.
The drop-in sessions are advertised in the weekly e-mails and also in the library where a poster informs students of where I am and when. At present, I am aiming the drop-in sessions at LPC students who need to prepare and submit a dissertation proposal.
Every few weeks I will organise a Practical Law event. These range from all-day drop-in sessions to quizzes and prize giveaways. I tend to hold all-day drop-in sessions in the run up to exams or when students have coursework to hand in so that they can come along with any last minute queries. These drop-in sessions often work well when they are in collaboration with the other legal ambassadors at the centre. By working together, we are able to provide a more comprehensive service to students looking for help and advice.
In the past I have organised for Practical Law to sponsor quizzes by providing prizes for the winners, and in return, I have been able to present a quick talk on Practical Law to students taking part.
At all events I bring along a sign-up sheet to increase the size of my mailing list for Practical Law e-mails and I usually gain around five sign-ups per event.
Top tips for being a Practical Law Ambassador
- Students are fairly enthusiastic about signing up to Practical Law at the beginning of the year, but this enthusiasm wanes pretty quickly. Weekly e-mails are a good way to keep students thinking about and using Practical Law, particularly around exam periods.
- Holding your own Practical Law event is a great way to recruit more students to the mailing list, but so is tagging along to other events at the centre – it saves you organising it every time.
- Food related incentives dramatically increase the interest in any drop-in session!