Jurisprudence Interview - Mature Student advise please

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Pythian
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Hi guys,

Ok. I have an interview to prepare for and I feel as if I'm going to have a nervous breakdown.

I am a mature student aged 25. I have two jobs but got a distinction on the Cert. of HE. I wrote about Hart, Fuller etc ... the EU accession to the ECHR and the HRA.

I have farily good ideas abou these things. But I'm worried that it's not enough. I am going to study legal theory in depth again so that I don't have merely a superficial understanding. and then broach the other subjects mentioned on the my PS.

I also plan on sitting down and formulating decent answers to the classic "why oxford?" and "why law"?

But other than that, I don't know what to do.

Any advise would be great;y appreciated.

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BrasenoseLitGeek
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Hi Pythian,

I'm an English grad, but I'll do my best. Judging by what you wrote you're applying for the undergrad course so the following is applicable.

If you haven't already, check this out:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/under...view-questions

As you can see knowledge of points of law isn't so critical. However, reasoning and directed thought is.

Question: do you know the format of the interview?
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niujinforever
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I think basic knowledge of legal theory is important. E.g. at least know what the seminal works of Hart, Finnis, Rawls, Dworkins etc talk about. Since you say you are going to study it in depth, this shouldn't be a problem for you.

It's probably also important to think critically about issues and have your own point of view. Oxford law in general has a strong slant towards jurisprudence. But I think if you can prepare legal theory in depth, that's already a huge start.

If you like you can read e.g. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, not sure how useful that will be for yoru purposes.

If you'd like other resources, drop me a PM, i'll let you know. Thanks
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mishieru07
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(Original post by Pythian)
Hi guys,

Ok. I have an interview to prepare for and I feel as if I'm going to have a nervous breakdown.

I am a mature student aged 25. I have two jobs but got a distinction on the Cert. of HE. I wrote about Hart, Fuller etc ... the EU accession to the ECHR and the HRA.

I have farily good ideas abou these things. But I'm worried that it's not enough. I am going to study legal theory in depth again so that I don't have merely a superficial understanding. and then broach the other subjects mentioned on the my PS.

I also plan on sitting down and formulating decent answers to the classic "why oxford?" and "why law"?

But other than that, I don't know what to do.

Any advise would be great;y appreciated.

You're not likely to get questions like "why oxford" or "why law", apart from as starter questions designed to ease you into the interview. The interview is purely academic.

I think it really depends on the format of the interview. Which college have you been assigned to? Quite a few base their interviews purely on material given to students at the interview (typically, it's an extract of a case, and you'll be quizzed on your understanding of that case only) - mine certainly doesn't care for your PS at all. That said, I've heard of at least one which asks more general "jurisprudency" questions, but in any case, I don't think you're expected to know an awful lot. You're really there to show how you think, and how quickly you learn and process new information. The content will be taught during the course itself anyway.

Depending on what format your college uses, I would suggest getting on BAILLI (http://www.bailii.org/) and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ Have a look at a case like R v Miller [1983] 2 AC 161, read the full judgment and relevant statutes, and see if you can make sense of it. You can pick random cases off sixth form law or e law resources to start.

(Original post by niujinforever)
I think basic knowledge of legal theory is important. E.g. at least know what the seminal works of Hart, Finnis, Rawls, Dworkins etc talk about. Since you say you are going to study it in depth, this shouldn't be a problem for you.

It's probably also important to think critically about issues and have your own point of view. Oxford law in general has a strong slant towards jurisprudence. But I think if you can prepare legal theory in depth, that's already a huge start.

If you like you can read e.g. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, not sure how useful that will be for yoru purposes.

If you'd like other resources, drop me a PM, i'll let you know. Thanks
Ummm I certainly knew nothing about Hart, Finnis, Rawls, Dworkin before my interview; I don't think I even knew who these people were (ironic, considering that Hart is from my college). Actually, I'm not sure I understand them now even after graduating with 2 law degrees, but I suppose it doesn't matter.

It's true that Oxford makes Jurisprudence compulsory (notwithstanding the multiple attempts made to make it non-compulsory within the faculty), and they do ask students to consider the theoretical fundamentals in every course (to some degree). That said, familiarity with legal theory is NOT a requirement for admission. My own college certainly doesn't base interviews around legal theory - the tutors just give you a case extract and ask your questions about it. It's more oral comprehension (understand + apply the principles derived from the case to novel fact patterns) than critical analysis (which would be something like "Do you think people should be criminally liable for omissions?")

Can confirm the Stanford philosophy encyclopedia is pretty handy though.
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BrasenoseLitGeek
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(Original post by mishieru07)
You're not likely to get questions like "why oxford" or "why law", apart from as starter questions designed to ease you into the interview. The interview is purely academic.

I think it really depends on the format of the interview. Which college have you been assigned to? Quite a few base their interviews purely on material given to students at the interview (typically, it's an extract of a case, and you'll be quizzed on your understanding of that case only) - mine certainly doesn't care for your PS at all. That said, I've heard of at least one which asks more general "jurisprudency" questions, but in any case, I don't think you're expected to know an awful lot. You're really there to show how you think, and how quickly you learn and process new information. The content will be taught during the course itself anyway.

Depending on what format your college uses, I would suggest getting on BAILLI (http://www.bailii.org/) and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ Have a look at a case like R v Miller [1983] 2 AC 161, read the full judgment and relevant statutes, and see if you can make sense of it. You can pick random cases off sixth form law or e law resources to start.



Ummm I certainly knew nothing about Hart, Finnis, Rawls, Dworkin before my interview; I don't think I even knew who these people were (ironic, considering that Hart is from my college). Actually, I'm not sure I understand them now even after graduating with 2 law degrees, but I suppose it doesn't matter.

It's true that Oxford makes Jurisprudence compulsory (notwithstanding the multiple attempts made to make it non-compulsory within the faculty), and they do ask students to consider the theoretical fundamentals in every course (to some degree). That said, familiarity with legal theory is NOT a requirement for admission. My own college certainly doesn't base interviews around legal theory - the tutors just give you a case extract and ask your questions about it. It's more oral comprehension (understand + apply the principles derived from the case to novel fact patterns) than critical analysis (which would be something like "Do you think people should be criminally liable for omissions?"

Can confirm the Stanford philosophy encyclopedia is pretty handy though.
Really? That's certainly more unusual.

But I have a backlog of some three years worth of interview case extracts so I can vouch for most of what mishieru is saying.

Had the OP replied to my previous post - I was going to point out that the interview process is based around 2 extract studies but there we go...you got there first

Certainly from my conversations with the law tutors at my college I was told that no prior knowledge is required of legal theory.

The interview is problem based - you are presented with logical or ethical challenges which the tutors will produced for you from the extract. They will be testing how far you can reshuffle the information you do have (i.e. the case study) into hypothetical and difficult situations.
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mishieru07
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(Original post by BrasenoseLitGeek)
Really? That's certainly more unusual.

But I have a backlog of some three years worth of interview case extracts so I can vouch for most of what mishieru is saying.

Had the OP replied to my previous post - I was going to point out that the interview process is based around 2 extract studies but there we go...you got there first

Certainly from my conversations with the law tutors at my college I was told that no prior knowledge is required of legal theory.

The interview is problem based - you are presented with logical or ethical challenges which the tutors will produced for you from the extract. They will be testing how far you can reshuffle the information you do have (i.e. the case study) into hypothetical and difficult situations.
Yeah it is. The vast majority of colleges use case extracts I think (I've heard of some using statutes, but that's more unusual). I've really only heard of one college using "jurisprudency" questions, but I don't really know the exact context in which the questions were asked.

Are you at Brasenose? If you've seen the case extracts, I'm guessing you're probably a student helper then? Or are you a lawyer (in which case, I might know you haha)

Eh I suppose the exact questions differ slightly from college to college, but during my own interviews at Brasenose, it wasn't really about ethical dilemmas (eg should it be legal to separate a pair of conjoined twins such that one may live, but knowing that the weaker twin will die in the process?); I'd say it's almost purely logical. The first half of the interview was along the lines of understanding the extract, like "who were the parties in this case? Why did judge x decide in the Plaintiff's favour?", and then for the second half, the tutors invented various fact patterns and asked you to apply the principles gleaned from the case to the facts. The best description I can think of is a logical exercise in oral comprehension. I don't recall ever being asked to express my views on whether I thought the principles in question were actually desirable (which is just as well, because I think evaluation is difficult if you have very little background knowledge!)
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BrasenoseLitGeek
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(Original post by mishieru07)
Yeah it is. The vast majority of colleges use case extracts I think (I've heard of some using statutes, but that's more unusual). I've really only heard of one college using "jurisprudency" questions, but I don't really know the exact context in which the questions were asked.

Are you at Brasenose? If you've seen the case extracts, I'm guessing you're probably a student helper then? Or are you a lawyer (in which case, I might know you haha)

Eh I suppose the exact questions differ slightly from college to college, but during my own interviews at Brasenose, it wasn't really about ethical dilemmas (eg should it be legal to separate a pair of conjoined twins such that one may live, but knowing that the weaker twin will die in the process?); I'd say it's almost purely logical. The first half of the interview was along the lines of understanding the extract, like "who were the parties in this case? Why did judge x decide in the Plaintiff's favour?", and then for the second half, the tutors invented various fact patterns and asked you to apply the principles gleaned from the case to the facts. The best description I can think of is a logical exercise in oral comprehension. I don't recall ever being asked to express my views on whether I thought the principles in question were actually desirable (which is just as well, because I think evaluation is difficult if you have very little background knowledge!)
I was. Graduated this time. But was student helper/team leader/access rep during my time so have a fair set of documents on file!

Are you second or third year? And what college? (Edit: English grad btw)

And I think that sounds like a fair analysis. I have this residual example in my head which led to me saying that. Again, I think it largely depends on the tutor, how they are feeling, and how the interviewee has responded during the interview. A little ethical curve ball might just finish things off haha
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mishieru07
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(Original post by BrasenoseLitGeek)
I was. Graduated this time. But was student helper/team leader/access rep during my time so have a fair set of documents on file!

Are you second or third year? And what college? (Edit: English grad btw)

And I think that sounds like a fair analysis. I have this residual example in my head which led to me saying that. Again, I think it largely depends on the tutor, how they are feeling, and how the interviewee has responded during the interview. A little ethical curve ball might just finish things off haha
Fellow alumni here - Law BA in 2014, then BCL in 2015. I was at Brasenose for all 4 years. What about you?

Haha yeah I can see that happening. I do think it depends on how the tutors set the questions (as I understand it, it's supposed to be fairly standardized though to give everyone a fair chance).
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BrasenoseLitGeek
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(Original post by mishieru07)
Fellow alumni here - Law BA in 2014, then BCL in 2015. I was at Brasenose for all 4 years. What about you?

Haha yeah I can see that happening. I do think it depends on how the tutors set the questions (as I understand it, it's supposed to be fairly standardized though to give everyone a fair chance).
Offer in 2010. Another offer 2011 (long story).

2012-2015 BA English. Currently applying for training contracts & GDL funding.

You can only be one of perhaps 2 people then!

My guess is that your real name begins with (edit: the same letter as) your username. If that's the case then the puzzle is solved.
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mishieru07
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(Original post by BrasenoseLitGeek)
Offer in 2010. Another offer 2011 (long story).

2012-2015 BA English. Currently applying for training contracts & GDL funding.

You can only be one of perhaps 2 people then!

My guess is that your real name begins with (edit: the same letter as) your username. If that's the case then the puzzle is solved.
Ohh snap busted :P Do we know each other in real life?

Best of luck with TC applications! I'm guessing you're applying to City firms? If so, perhaps some day I'll see you around London when I come back on secondment haha.
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BrasenoseLitGeek
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(Original post by mishieru07)
Ohh snap busted :P Do we know each other in real life?

Best of luck with TC applications! I'm guessing you're applying to City firms? If so, perhaps some day I'll see you around London when I come back on secondment haha.
Not really. I've added you on FB.

So are you living in Singapore permanently?
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mishieru07
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(Original post by BrasenoseLitGeek)
Not really. I've added you on FB.

So are you living in Singapore permanently?
Ohhh haha I remember your emails! Might have responded to them at some point too.

Nope - I have a 2016 TC based out of Hong Kong (with secondments to London and China), so I'm currently in HK doing their version of the LPC.

We should probably take this to PM or FB rather than continue derailing this thread. Whoops.
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Pythian
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(Original post by BrasenoseLitGeek)
Hi Pythian,

I'm an English grad, but I'll do my best. Judging by what you wrote you're applying for the undergrad course so the following is applicable.

If you haven't already, check this out:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/under...view-questions

As you can see knowledge of points of law isn't so critical. However, reasoning and directed thought is.

Question: do you know the format of the interview?
Hi.

I'm very surprised people responded to my thread. Thank you all for your time and generosity.

From what I’ve managed to intuit, interviews are more interested in a candidates ability to “think like a lawyer”. I think this would require an ability to define laws and set their parameters against real-life scenarios to determine whether a legal infraction occurred. And then, more broadly on the purpose of the law. In other words, the question about the death penalty being related to speeding offences would need a ‘legal’ answer as opposed to an average common sense view.

Would you say this is correct?

Do you have anything to add? (All tips or comments would be greatly appreciated).
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BrasenoseLitGeek
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(Original post by Pythian)
Hi.

I'm very surprised people responded to my thread. Thank you all for your time and generosity.

From what I’ve managed to intuit, interviews are more interested in a candidates ability to “think like a lawyer”. I think this would require an ability to define laws and set their parameters against real-life scenarios to determine whether a legal infraction occurred. And then, more broadly on the purpose of the law. In other words, the question about the death penalty being related to speeding offences would need a ‘legal’ answer as opposed to an average common sense view.

Would you say this is correct?

Do you have anything to add? (All tips or comments would be greatly appreciated).

Afraid I wouldn't say this is correct.

You won't have to define any laws. That's an unreasonable request.

The case will be the toolkit for the interview questions.

You have to be able to keep your eyes on what the case it telling you. And then, using that knowledge, think about the questions.

You don't have to think 'like a lawyer'.

You have to think logically. What does the case show. What examples does it give. What is the causality? And how does this information arm me for the questions.
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mishieru07
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(Original post by Pythian)
Hi.

I'm very surprised people responded to my thread. Thank you all for your time and generosity.

From what I’ve managed to intuit, interviews are more interested in a candidates ability to “think like a lawyer”. I think this would require an ability to define laws and set their parameters against real-life scenarios to determine whether a legal infraction occurred. And then, more broadly on the purpose of the law. In other words, the question about the death penalty being related to speeding offences would need a ‘legal’ answer as opposed to an average common sense view.

Would you say this is correct?

Do you have anything to add? (All tips or comments would be greatly appreciated).
Uh you don't really have to "define the laws" if you have a case extract style interview. All you need to do is to pick out what the legal principles are (eg that employers can be vicariously responsible for the tortious acts of their employees in certain circumstances), and then apply them to various factual patterns (eg if I had a personal grudge against someone, and then I punched him during my job, would my employer be liable?). I didn't get any evaluative questions, which would probably be like "Is it right that employers can be liable for the tortious acts of their employees which are outside the scope of their employment?"

Are you referring to http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/under...view-questions ? They have two sample law questions, which are essay style.

I will say that most colleges don't seem to use this sort of format - they use case extracts, which both BrasenoseLitGeek and myself have elaborated on. If however, you come across this sort of question (and you might, depending on college), the approach is still a logical one. Look at the question carefully, and define your terms and parameters. If a question asks whether something is "good" or "right", think about what exactly they can mean. "Good" in what sense? Just? Effective? With respect to who? Are they mutually exclusive? If so, how do you weigh up all these competing interests? Which ones should win out and why? Can we have a more nuanced view that balances all these interests? (eg instead of imposing the death penalty for all speeding offences, should we only impose them for very egregious infringements?)

Such questions are inherently open ended so there isn't a "right" answer. All you need to do is answer the question asked, and formulate a relatively structured approach (eg I will define "good" as meaning "x, y and z", and I will evaluate this proposed law on the basis of these three criteria). I don't think it's necessarily a legal answer (a legal answer would be like "According to Mill's harm principle, criminal liability should only be imposed where harm has been caused. Since a speeding offence doesn't harm anyone in the sense of causing physical damage to property or persons, I don't think we should impose such a heavy penalty as to completely deprive them of their life; this is an excessive and disproportionate infringement of one's autonomy and right to life.") You don't need to show the tutors you know all these fancy theories - they don't expect you to know them anyway, and by raising these points, you might open yourself up to further questioning (which could be good or bad).
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