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What should dd (yr 12) be doing now to help her chances of law at Oxford?

(75 Posts)
mamhaf Sat 24-Oct-09 17:56:51

She's studying English, Spanish and History and the Welsh Baccalaureate in lower sixth and thinks she'd like to apply to Oxford to read law.

She knows it's going to be phenomenally competitive and I'm not sure her state school will give her the kind of support she'll need.

Any tips please?

She has 13 GCSEs A* to C grades (the A*s were in her A'level subjects, and has a B at maths)

She's trying to find a law firm which will give her work experience - I would think that's a minimum she'll need though.

What about preparation for university interviews?


Avendesora Sat 24-Oct-09 19:31:51

Why not contact a few universities and ask them?

girlsyearapart Sat 24-Oct-09 19:40:22

Definitely go to law firms for experience. I started a law degree in an Ally Mcbeal inspired moment but left after the first year as it was phenomenally boring..

Did English Lit instead, get her to speak to people on Law course to check it's what she thinks it is.

trellism Sat 24-Oct-09 19:49:39

Get her used to reading broadsheets, listening to Radio 4 and getting interested in current affairs and literature, and think about doing Oxford entrance classes in a few years' time. Don't bother doing A Level Law as she'll only be repeating the same stuff in greater depth in her first year.

Also, a lot of law firms prefer the any degree followed by a GDL route these days (it's what I'm doing) so it may be worth her thinking carefully about what degree she wants to do, and choosing something she really enjoys.

She has plenty of time.

frakula Sat 24-Oct-09 20:01:23

Would also say don't read law if she wants to be a lawyer.

I was dining at Lincoln's Inn last night and on the top table (the Benchers) only 2 had read law, both of those wished they hadn't, and all said they actively preferred pupils who hadn't done an undergraduate law degree. Was actually quite illuminating, although I never plan to go into law! A Spanish degree would be a MASSIVE head start for her because a lot of firms these days want bilingual/fluent in a couple of languages lawyers.

If she's dead set on it:

Get into debating club at school or model united nations
Be very up on current affairs, especially things like the creation of the Supreme Court and the possibility that the judges there may be barristers/solicitors rather than high court judges etc.
Work experience with both a barrister and a solicitor so she has a balanced idea of what they do

TubOfLardWithInferiorRange Sat 24-Oct-09 20:01:24

All my dd ever talked about doing was going to law school until we sent her to a summer law camp. I know Cambridge has summer camps in all sorts of subjects maybe Oxford has offerings as well? Her friends that have gone on to Harvard/Yale (we live in the states) all took classes at the local University while still in HS. The colleges here seemed particularly keen on a girl who took Arabic.

Vidanueva Sat 24-Oct-09 20:06:44

OK - her results mean she is on track. Oxbridge, by and large, are only interested in exceptional candidates.

Being at a state school might be in her favour, but you are right, preparation is definitely the key. Work experience is a very good idea - make it happen. What are her outside interests? Who will help her draft any statements? What about interview practice? You need someone who knows what they are doing. If no one else comes along, I can ask my brother. He did a course with Oxbridge once about preparing candidates.

Has she been to one of their taster-things?

cbmum Sat 24-Oct-09 20:08:44

I have a friend who is a law fellow at one of the Cambridge Colleges. I know he has been contacted by parents in the past who have children that would like to attend Oxbridge to study law. (He used to deal with the law student admissions for his college). I'd highly recommend that you contact a few of the Oxford colleges and ask if you can talk to one of the tutors on the law course about what your child can do to improve their chances of getting a place. Also, the Times recently ran an article about this so have a look at that. I think it was called something like 'how to help my children succeed at the Oxbridge interview'.

SleepingLion Sat 24-Oct-09 20:12:34

trellism - she doesn't have that much time if she's in Yr 12 now! - needs to be thinking about these things now.

I would agree with those who say that a Law degree is by no means the best route into law; she needs to speak to people doing them if possible - have you looked into Oxford open days?

mamhaf Sat 24-Oct-09 21:42:53

Thanks everyone - I'll make sure she reads all of this (she's watching the X-factor now rather than reading today's Guardian).

Cbmum -I kept the Times article this week, and that definitely had some sound advice.

It's very interesting some of you are saying don't read law - I'd never have known that, and it might be that she would enjoy Spanish or English Lit more for her first degree.

She's very interested in current affairs - the history GCSE and visiting the US just before the election as part of her course whetted her appetite for politics.

What would be the route into law afterwards though if she didn't do an LLB?

Vida - I may well contact you re: interview practice if we can't find anyone locally.

frakula Sat 24-Oct-09 21:49:06

She can do a 2 year LLB offered by some unis or a Graduate Diploma in Law. See here and here for more info.

If she's DESPERATE for law I'd recommend Law with something, probably a language.

littleomar Sat 24-Oct-09 21:54:34

it might be worth comparing courses. in my day (10 years ago, so things may have changed) oxford courses could be very different from studying the same thing elsewhere. as others have mentioned, it might be good to think more about whether she wants to study law at oxford, or to be an oxford-educated lawyer - the two aren't necessarily the same.

(one of my best friends there did law and is now a highly successful...advertising creative)

stickylittlefingers Sat 24-Oct-09 22:10:47

Can I just stand up for law a minute, as a degree? I loved my law degree! I am a happy and successful lawyer... it can happen...!

Great start to have challenging A-levels - I've heard that a lot of state applicants fail because they are badly advised on A-level choices and take things that are too similar to each other (everything that ends with -studies, for instance).

I went to the Other Place, I wasn't an outstanding candidate, but did do work experience, was enthusiastic, had read a lot about the course and could say why I wanted to do it (had also done language A-levels and did do the year abroad and said I wanted to from the start). I did seriously muck up my first interview due to nerves (barely said anything so was lucky to get a second interview), so I would recommend as much practice of doing things that help your dd get any nerves she might have would be a good idea.

I did go up to the Oxford Law open day, and from that decided I really wanted to do law, but didn't want to do it at Oxford. Definitely worth doing something like that.

Do hope, if she does like the idea of law still, that it goes well for her. I had a brilliant time and hope I can dispel the notion that a law degree is not worth doing and deeply dull, because it is and it's not smile

stickylittlefingers Sat 24-Oct-09 22:14:31

just re reading op - 13 at A* to C isn't necessarily good enough, if it's not mostly A*. There are a lot of kids coming out with perfect and near-perfect scores. Some allowance may be made for being state rather than private (the privates are very good at churning out the brilliant GCSE scores, and the admissions people know it), but obviously that can only be done to a certain extent.

trellism Sat 24-Oct-09 22:14:31

Sorry, for some reason I thought she was 12, not in Yr 12!

dinkystinkystein Sat 24-Oct-09 22:21:57

I have to admit I studied law at university and am now a lawyer - as are about half my friends from my law year. I loved my degree by the end and came third in my class with a first - and would do it all over again. If she wants to be a barrister she really does have to read law to get into an Inns of Court - she will really have a massively tough time if she reads anything else. If she wants to be a city solicitor, then she can do whatever degree she likes BUT will need to spend 2 years of her life post degree (as opposed to 1) doing the obligatory training pre-training contract - and if you dont get sponsored by a city law firm that can be pretty expensive. I have to admit 13 A* to C grades may not be good enough to get into Oxford - but that's no reason not to apply - she just needs to shine up her CV with extracurricular activities to make her a really excellent candidate. Good luck to her.

ZZZenAgain Sat 24-Oct-09 22:24:36

whilst we're owning up to it, I'll join in and say I enjoyed my law degree, so did dh. We both did two - I did history and law, he did economics and law

I think it's a good general training for a lot of different work. Even if you do not work in law, the training is certainly worthwhile IME.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Sat 24-Oct-09 22:31:37

I did law at Oxford, although admittedly ages ago. At my interview they seemed to want to see that I'd thought about law more generally, so IIRC the questions were around what kinds of laws a society needed to have (IIRC I talked about criminal laws vs civil laws (and they stopped me and asked why you needed civil laws as well as criminal laws) and what they were for). Remember that the Oxford course is Jurisprudence so has a more high-faluting philosophical tone than some others; preparing for that probably helpful. Read something like The Idea of Law and see whether that way of thinking about things appeals.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Sat 24-Oct-09 22:34:51

(I didn't become a lawyer afterwards; as others have mentioned, I was more interested in doing the Oxford law course than being an Oxford-educated lawyer. I think out of 10 at my college and year we wound up with two barristers, six solicitors and two non-lawyers)

cassell Sat 24-Oct-09 22:35:39

I read history at Oxford and am now a solicitor, I knew I wanted to do law as a career so thought I would take the opportunity to do something else first! Oxford was certainly a fantastic place to study and having an oxbridge degree is the key, ime, rather than what that degree is in iyswim.

If she is interested in studying foreign languages then that might be a good option to study as law firms she might apply to in the future generally consider languages an added benefit.

She should consider whether she wants to be a solicitor or a barrister. The majority of my colleagues did other degrees first and then did the law conversion course (Postgraduate Diploma in Law, gets you to the same position as having done a first degree in law). However ime most barristers have done law degrees as they generally need a greater understanding of theory than solicitors.

From friends who did law at Oxford it is quite an old fashioned degree (lots of Roman law etc) and therefore not ideally suited to practice.

All the ideas mentioned above are worth doing, also candidates for law at Oxford now have to do an entrance test, see if you can get hold of a couple of sample papers for her to try. Generally the interviewers, ime, will be looking for someone who can "think outside the box" cliche though that is. So encourage your dd to read widely, question everything and show a real enthusiasum for her chosen subject.

Oxford do offer a 4yr law course with a year spent abroad studying european law, however it is extremely competitive and only exceptional candidates are likely to get through.

The other thing she should consider carefully is which college she applies to as the tutors/atmosphere/facilities vary considerably (even though they tell you they don't). It is worth going and checking out the colleges that she is interested in, attending their open days and speaking to the subject tutors as they are the ones who will be interviewing her so making an early good impression can be helpful. Also once she knows who the interviewers will be she should research them, find out their interests etc so as to be as prepared as possible.

Sorry this has turned into rather a long post! Got carried away, loved my Oxford days....

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Sat 24-Oct-09 22:41:53

I think they've dropped Roman Law as a compulsory part of Law Mods now (sad in a way as it was rather fun: did you know that in ancient Rome [at some periods, anyway] you could enter a house to search it for stolen goods so long as you were naked except for a loincloth and carrying a silver platter?).

stickylittlefingers Sat 24-Oct-09 22:52:22

Professor I think it's a shame - at the time I did think it was odd that I did an exam which included a question about a chariot not signally appropriately.... but found it was generally relevant when I was studying on the continent and then afterwards in practice, some of the concepts did come up. I heard Cambridge replaced it with something more general like 'an introduction to the civil tradition', or some such wishy washy ness. I hate the current obsession with relevance. Who knows what will end up being relevant in life? Why not just concentrate on being interesting and challenging?

Erm, yes, off the point. Sorry...

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Sat 24-Oct-09 22:58:46

<remembers fondly> Different ways of freeing a slave... what happens when a part of your land gets detached and is washed downstream onto your neighbour's property...

cremeeggs Sat 24-Oct-09 23:01:06

She should visit a few colleges at open day and chat to the law tutor at each college. He/She will be doing the interview and it makes a massive difference if they have already formed a favourable impression at an open day...Oxford admissions are still pretty subjective (how else do they differentiate between hundreds of A grade students....)so everything you can do to make your chosen college aware how committed you are can only be a good thing (well it worked when I was doing the interview rounds and worked for loads of my friends too)

stickylittlefingers Sat 24-Oct-09 23:01:57

actually, given DP's out and seems to be staying that way, if anyone wants to come in wearing but a loincloth and carrying a silver platter, well, I wouldn't necessarily be chasing them out with a baseball bat grin

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