Grades matter. Many law firms will take an interest in how you go at University long after you have graduated. People still ask me for transcripts of candidates who have over 10 years’ experience. Spend as much time as you can studying. Many people do have work commitments whilst at university and firms often take that into consideration but it may be better to take your time, study less subjects per semester but dedicate the time needed to get a strong grade opposed to racing through, working full -time juggling lots of different things which may see you not get the grades you are capable of.
Try and get some work experience in the legal profession whilst at university. Apply directly to organisations early in your degree for administration and/ or clerical roles. If you can not get legal experience, try and get some office based experience as soon as you can. It will be more fun to work in a bar, club or café but getting your office skills up to speed will help you in the longer term and may set you apart when it comes to securing a graduate or clerkship role.
Volunteer. If you can not get paid experience and if your circumstances allow, volunteer at a legal centre, not for profit or barrister's chambers, the experience you will get will be worth it.
Apply for clerkships and graduate positions. Do not self select out of the recruitment process or be put off. Give yourself the opportunity to secure a role. It is important to remember that not all employers want the same type of person and the easiest way to get a role is if you take the time to apply.
Make friends and network. The people who sit next to you in your constitutional lecture or your property tutorial are your future colleagues, clients or opposing counsel of the future. It is easy to forget that in amongst all the fun that is university life, you are surrounded by peers who are going to enter your profession. Establish your networks, build friendships and you may reap the rewards in 15-20 years time.
Join clubs and committees. Try to genuinely connect with as many fellow students as possible (not just those who you naturally gravitate too). Not everyone will go on and become a lawyer (you may not), but by connecting with a variety of people and utilising your university experience to build your social network whatever career you decide to go down, you will have lots of contacts in the future.
Travel. If your circumstances allow take the time to do some travel over the holidays. See the world and broaden your mind, experience as much of the world as you can before life gets too serious.