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How much does an Oxbridge degree really matter? watch

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    In terms of solicitors....(I've no idea about the Bar):

    Used to make loads of difference, now it makes negligible difference. A first from another top uni will probably beat out a mid 2.1 from Oxbridge.

    Out of your list, Durham, Nottingham are fine, Exeter is pretty good, Birmingham less so and Hull? Not great.

    However, the quality of your ECs, application forms and interview performances (assuming you get to that stage) will be the deciding factor.
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    Barrister: Really quite important.
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    (Original post by dalianatkinson)
    Barrister: Really quite important.
    Really quite important to get to interview point. If you are excellent and you get to interview then you will be fine with a degree from elsewhere. The bottleneck is interview really.
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    It's like opening Pandora's box to discover you are God!
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    (Original post by python38)
    To cut a long story short, it's unlikely I'll be studying Law at Cambridge this autumn; how much does the university you go to actually matter? (I might want to become a barrister or solicitor.)

    I know ECs and so on matter too, but, all else being equal, would a First from a university like Birmingham, Durham or Nottingham be worth more than a 2:1 from Cambridge? How about a First from a university like Exeter or Hull?

    (I'm applying to university quite young, so I could even re-apply to Oxford/Cambridge next year if I don't get in this year and an Oxbridge degree is worth so much.)

    Thanks ^^.
    1. It only helps to get to interview stage. Once there, everyone is (almost) equal.

    2. Correlation is not necessary causation. Oxbridgers will almost invariably have excellent A-levels, usually good grades while at uni, and often good extra-curriculars -- all of which are a big help.

    3. Having said that, it's not random that Oxbridge is massively over-represented in MC/SC/US law firms and at the bar.

    However, it looks like you're just looking for some reassurance, so: get good grades at Nottingham or wherever and do some decent extra-currics, and you'll have as good a shot as anyone

    (oh, and when you say "it's unlikely I'll be studying Law at Cambridge this autumn", do you just mean you think you're going to miss your offer?)
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    (Original post by python38)
    To cut a long story short, it's unlikely I'll be studying Law at Cambridge this autumn; how much does the university you go to actually matter? (I might want to become a barrister or solicitor.)
    I think, as with many things, it will depend entirely on the opinion of whoever will consider your application as a solicitor or a barrister in the future. Some potential employers may like the type of graduate that Oxbridge produces (because of the tutorial/collgiate system at both universities) whilst other people may prefer the higher class of degree from a different university. Since Oxbridge are so highly regarded, having a law degree from them will make applying for jobs far easier because the competition is so fierce.

    However, I would remember that although the reality is that many Oxbridge graduates will go on and become barristers and solicitors, what law tutors want to see when people apply for law is a passion for the subject itself.
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    (Original post by Teaddict)
    It's like opening Pandora's box to discover you are God!
    wtf,
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    (Original post by doivid)
    Since Oxbridge are so highly regarded, having a law degree from them will make applying for jobs far easier because the competition is so fierce.
    Trust me, "far easier" is definitely an overstatement, especially in the current climate. Many law firms are trying to move away from having an image of being "full of Oxbridge trainees" and there is now considerable emphasis on extra-curricular achievement and participation.
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    Its an advantage, but its not the be-all and end-all. I don't agree with the person who said its a "negligible advantage", I think the sheer number of Oxbridge trainees shows that to be untrue, but its certainly not that much of an advantage. Plenty of non-Oxbridge people get Training Contracts with top firms. There are more Oxbridge people knocking around - on the LPC for city firms I guesstimate that 40% of the people are Oxbridge. There are plenty of people from Durham/Notts/Birmingham type places. There aren't so many people from unis like Exeter/Hull, though I imagine a good degree from a place like Exeter/Hull would be fine for jobs below the commercial city firm level.

    Its impossible to say whether a first from Durham/Notts/Birmingham is better than a 2:1 from Oxbridge. If we are talking about a mid-range 2:1 against a strong first, then the answer is probably yes. A lot will depend on the people actually making the decision, but mostly it depends on what kind of 2:1 we are talking about. You've got to remember that 2:1 is now an enormous category. There has been massive grade inflation in recent decades, with the result that nearly everyone gets a 2:1 at most unis. Chambers and firms will demand to know ALL your individual module marks. There is a big difference between someone who scrapes a 2:1 and someone who gets a very high 2:1.


    I wouldn't bother re-applying unless you actually want to take a gap year.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    Its an advantage, but its not the be-all and end-all. I don't agree with the person who said its a "negligible advantage", I think the sheer number of Oxbridge trainees shows that to be untrue, but its certainly not that much of an advantage.
    The issue is, though, whether the sheer number of Oxbridge grad trainees is explained by the fact they went to Oxbridge, or the fact that they were simply better candidates. I'm inclined to think it's the latter. I'm at Cambridge and I know many people who have struggled with securing the very best vac schemes/TC's this year. My Director of Studies has even commented that he is surprised at how people have been struggling compared to in the past. Obviously this is partly due to the general increase in competition and reduction in # of places, but to some extent many firms no longer give any special advantage whatsoever to those attending Oxbridge, compared to - say - LSE, UCL or other top universities.
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    (Original post by jcb914)
    The issue is, though, whether the sheer number of Oxbridge grad trainees is explained by the fact they went to Oxbridge, or the fact that they were simply better candidates. I'm inclined to think it's the latter. I'm at Cambridge and I know many people who have struggled with securing the very best vac schemes/TC's this year. My Director of Studies has even commented that he is surprised at how people have been struggling compared to in the past. Obviously this is partly due to the general increase in competition and reduction in # of places, but to some extent many firms no longer give any special advantage whatsoever to those attending Oxbridge, compared to - say - LSE, UCL or other top universities.
    You are right to point out that the reason for the great number of Oxbridge grads at top firms/chambers is unclear. There has been a massive increase in competition in recent years, I don't think anybody can expect to have an easy ride to Vac Schemes/TCs these days - you need to be a well-rounded package.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    You are right to point out that the reason for the great number of Oxbridge grads at top firms/chambers is unclear. There has been a massive increase in competition in recent years, I don't think anybody can expect to have an easy ride to Vac Schemes/TCs these days - you need to be a well-rounded package.
    I think it really depends where the best candidates go to study. If excellent university applicants suddenly decide that LSE has the best law degree, then in a few years employers will look towards LSE rather than Oxbridge for their graduates. Employers don't have the time to interview all the amazing applicants from all the universities in the country, so they go with the best compromise, knowing that many people would be more than suitable from universities like Oxbridge, the top London unis, Durham and so on.

    However, for me, this is all a comfortable few years away
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    (Original post by python38)
    I'm just not feeling very optimistic about my application, looking at all the other applicants' grades.
    Well (providing you have a 2.1) you need to make this up with ECs and Pro Bono to stand out - thats where your application stands out.
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    (Original post by FMQ)
    Well (providing you have a 2.1) you need to make this up with ECs and Pro Bono to stand out - thats where your application stands out.
    This is verging on the grotesquely over-hypothetical, BUT do you mean to say that, for example, a high 2:1 with average ECs could be outweighed by a low 2:1 with outstanding ECs?

    haha, sorry, I just read that back :-P
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    (Original post by Over_The_Odds)
    This is verging on the grotesquely over-hypothetical, BUT do you mean to say that, for example, a high 2:1 with average ECs could be outweighed by a low 2:1 with outstanding ECs?

    haha, sorry, I just read that back :-P
    Yes. While from my experience nothing trumps academics, they are not enough alone. The majority of pupillage applications (including OLPAS) only ask for your classification, so the 2.1 ticks that box high or low.

    Obviously it IS only hypothetical as other things will come into play - ie the sets that only want Oxbridge (this could be just due to numbers - these people have already proved themselves through rigorous academic processes and its easer than wading through 800 apps) or who only read the CVs of the 1st 100 applicants (THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE).

    If you have a low 2.1 and reams of relevant experience and success for example at FRU, even from a "poorer" uni, you have as good a chance of getting to interview (at some sets, it is naive to think the pool is not limited) as someone who has a high Oxbridge 2.1 and say a couple of mini pupillages but not much else. The Oxbridge candidates that succeed have the grade (even a low 2.1) AND the ECs. You can see this from looking at chambers profiles: previous career, year with AMICUS, advising TSOL, publications etc

    The problem for most applicants is they will never get to interview, again this is sheer numbers. Unless you are a candidate of the ilk of recent tenants at the top chambers, you will meet so many people on the BVC at Inns who for every one of your imagined unique selling points, they have three more! There are simply not enough pupillages for everyone who could do them, and not enough interview slots to see every "paper" potential pupil.

    Once you get to the interview then its down to the individual. If you get to int with a 2.2 (prob a less than 0.5% chance - do not embark on the BVC with a 2.2 unless you have tested the market) and blow their socks off then you will get the pupillage.
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    (Original post by python38)
    Oops, sorry - I meant my A-level grades, not uni grades. (I'm applying to university for entry this autumn.) And thanks, everyone .

    So universities are ranked something like this: Oxbridge, and then Warwick, Birmingham, and Durham, and Nottingham, and then Exeter and East Anglia, and then Hull?

    Is this an OK list of universities, btw? (I mean, would degrees from any of these universities not be regarded highly at all, even if one got a really high First and had awesome ECs?)

    Cambridge
    Warwick
    Birmingham
    Liverpool
    East Anglia/Hull
    You've missed out the important London unis: LSE, UCL and KCL.
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    It always amuses me on here how readily people assume they'll get a first. Now a really high first, that is a challenge.
 
 
 
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