Applying to Oxbridge has always been something of a mystery to A Level students, the University of Cambridge Sixth Form Law Conference, set up by a committee of current undergraduates, has been designed to give Y12 students an insight into both Law and life as an undergraduate at Cambridge.
(Typically four days.)
Mornings involved lectures in the Law Faculty from renowned University lecturers and eminent speakers from the legal profession, giving students an introduction into the subjects they are likely to encounter as a Law undergraduate at Cambridge, as well as covering issues such as 'Applying to Cambridge', the Cambridge Law Test and Law as a career.
Afternoons gave students the opportunity to participate in workshops organised by high profile City Law Firms and Barristers Chambers which focussed on developing skills integral to the legal profession such as debating, advocacy and negotiation. Students were also taken on guided tours of Cambridge, with time for investigating different Colleges.
Evening activities were very social and hosted by the committee, consisting of: live comedy on the first night, a debate in the world-famous Cambridge Union between top students and MPs and a mock trial with two leading barristers.
I was slightly apprehensive before attending the Conference, I asked myself:
Will I find it interesting?
Will I be able to make an informed decision on which university/course I would like to pursue by the end of the Conference?
Most importantly, will I fit in with the 'Cambridge crowd'?
Luckily all my questions were answered by the end of the week. The lecturers I had the pleasure of learning from are world renowned; many of them literally write the books you study at university. Every speaker was informative, engaging and surprisingly funny and the topics we studied were intellectually stimulating. Students were encouraged to participate in discussions- this was especially encouraged by Professor Graham Virgo, who explored a variety of legal problems ranging from questioning the validity of commercial contracts, to considering whether voodoo constitutes attempted murder. One of the afternoon workshops I attended was run by leading law firm, Macfarlanes (advisers to the Virgin Group) where students were coached in negotiation and settling contracts- it provoked some heated debate and it was great to see how differently students approach problems.
The conference was fun but intense, with events scheduled from 8am to 10.30pm every day. Every student was assigned a college (I was at St. Catharine's College) and was given typical student accommodation in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the college halls. The college really felt like a community; the staff, college fellows and college porters were all helpful and welcoming.
What really made the conference worthwhile was the chance to meet current students. I initially had many preconceptions of the stereotypical 'Oxbridge scholar', but having met the Law 'undergrads', I can truthfully say there's no such thing; each student had their own balance between study and social life and I found all of them genuine and enriching to talk to. Many other sixth form students who had attended also didn't know anyone else, so meeting new, like-minded people was easy.
All things considered, I personally feel that the experience gave me a true reflection of life at Cambridge and I would urge anyone who is interested in Law at Oxbridge to attend the conference to discover it for themselves.
(Current Year 11 students will be able to apply for the University of Cambridge Sixth Form Law Conference 2013 in September 2012 through the online application form. For more details on the conference, see www.law.cam.ac.uk/microsites/conference/)
-by Cyril Cutinha, Deputy Head Boy