Building a law application in lockdown
Thinking about applying to Law at Oxford or Cambridge? Concerned that lockdown is hampering your chances of putting together a competitive application?
The most important part of any application is a clear demonstration of commitment, curiosity, and interest in learning more. Whilst it may be disappointing that some work experience you had lined up has now not been possible due to lockdown and social distancing, or you have been unable to go on some court visits you were planning to, try not to worry too much. There are still plenty of ways you can show yourself to be an excellent applicant, from the comfort of your living room.
There are a wide range of podcasts on legal topics available.
A lot of these are produced by the universities themselves and are full of recent research by expert academics in the field.
Some places to start include:
• University of Cambridge
• University of Oxford
• University of Glasgow
Using this time to read and take notes on a range of introductory legal texts is a great use of your time.
Don’t stress if you are not understanding everything; your interviewers will not expect you to already understand everything the world of legal academia has to offer! Just see what interests you, find other articles or books in the same vein, and think critically about what you are reading.
Some initial thoughts on where to start include:
• Eve Was Shamed/Eve Was Framed - Helena Kennedy
• The Secret Barrister
• What About Law? Studying Law at University - Barnard, O’Sullivan, and Virgo
You don’t have to buy and read whole books in order to engage with written legal ideas. Blogs can be a great way to digest some shorter and more accessible information, written by experts.
A good one to start with is Public Law for Everyone, by Cambridge academic Professor Mark Elliott.
Once you have read the blog posts, you can try looking into his more academic articles on the same topics, and see how your understanding of them compares, and whether the introduction via the blog helps to make the content more accessible for a beginner.
4. CUrrent affairs
You’ll have heard this 100 times but one of the best things you can do to prepare for an interview in Law is be on top of current affairs. At my interview I was asked ‘What legal news have you seen in the last week that has interested you, and why?’. You don’t want to be caught out on a question like that.
Keep an eye on the news and think about the legal ramifications. The pandemic itself provides countless legal questions about housing, employment, healthcare, and the coronavirus restrictions on movement. This could be a good place for you to start your research.
The most important thing is that while watching, reading, or listening to these resources try and pause every now and then to really determine what you think about the topic. Take some notes and read through them again afterwards, perhaps Googling any of the ideas or concepts that you found particularly interesting and trying to do some extra reading on these areas. You need to not only list what you have done, but show why you chose to listen to it, and what you gained from it.
An example could be, for example:
‘While following lockdown regulations over the period of Coronavirus this summer, I used the time to learn more about the inequalities in the legal profession. As a starting point, I read Helena Kennedy’s ‘Eve Was Framed’, and was struck… Since this was first written in 1993, I wanted to develop an understanding of how much has changed in that last few decades, and began to look at data from X… It is clear that there are still necessary steps to take, the most important of which I believe to be…’
I’ve not done all the work for you there, but this should give an idea of how you can frame the learning you are doing from home. What did it make you think? Why were you interested in it? Do you have any ideas on how the law/society should move forward in order to address the issue at hand?
The next step is being able to talk about all these ideas in an interview setting. You can practice online with friends, or with family members. Oxbridge Interviews offers practice interviews with an Oxford or Cambridge graduate in Law, who can put you through your paces in a 1-1, and give individual feedback and next steps on how to improve.