Law at oxford - where do I go and how do I get there from GCSEs?

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PuddyCat
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TL;DR: Which GCSE courses, which A-level courses and which college?


I’m currently in year 9 and looking to the future I want to be a lawyer. Having looked at other threads (and from what my Dad has said, perhaps a little biased) I have decided that I want to go to Oxford. However, I am not sure which GCSEs to take, should I pass what A-levels to take and then finally what college to go to.

Breaking it down:

GCSEs: not much to say here, just need advice for which courses to do. Already doing computing a year early so at my school I have space for two more standard courses and they can give me access to additional online courses as well.

A-levels: Which courses should I take. Bearing in mind that by the time I am doing them T-levels we be another possible option, equalling 3 A-levels. Which T-level courses, if any, should I take instead?

Colleges: Which College should I go to? I am close to oxford so student accommodation is not an issue, I could probably get there given that traffic isn’t too bad, and that I have a car or that I can borrow my dad’s or my mum’s. So which college would get me the best degree for getting a well paying job as a Lawyer?
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PetitePanda
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You can literally do anything for both gcses and a levels. For gcses, I suggest doing ones that you'll do better in because Oxford has a emphasis on gcses so its much better having a strong profile for it so you have more chances. For A-levels, I dont know much about T levels but when youre in sixth form, you can do a FOI request on whichunidotheyknow.com (I think this is the website) for applicants with those but it's much better to wait later to choose since there's not much information about them when applying for uni. However, I know for a levels you dont need to do any specific subjects (although Btecs are acceptable but a bit risky and need to be relevant to law) as long as you get high grades especially for a competitive course such as Law. For colleges, you need to research what facilities and opportunities each college has in order to allow you strengthen your application for law.

Btw, you forgot about the process to uni because you also need to the LNAT (Law National Admission Test), if you want to go to Oxford; what you're going to put in your personal statement to show your interest (e.g. super curriculars)
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mishieru07
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(Original post by PuddyCat)
TL;DR: Which GCSE courses, which A-level courses and which college?


I’m currently in year 9 and looking to the future I want to be a lawyer. Having looked at other threads (and from what my Dad has said, perhaps a little biased) I have decided that I want to go to Oxford. However, I am not sure which GCSEs to take, should I pass what A-levels to take and then finally what college to go to.

Breaking it down:

GCSEs: not much to say here, just need advice for which courses to do. Already doing computing a year early so at my school I have space for two more standard courses and they can give me access to additional online courses as well.

A-levels: Which courses should I take. Bearing in mind that by the time I am doing them T-levels we be another possible option, equalling 3 A-levels. Which T-level courses, if any, should I take instead?

Colleges: Which College should I go to? I am close to oxford so student accommodation is not an issue, I could probably get there given that traffic isn’t too bad, and that I have a car or that I can borrow my dad’s or my mum’s. So which college would get me the best degree for getting a well paying job as a Lawyer?
FYI, you don't have to do a Law degree to become a solicitor/ barrister in the UK. If there is another subject that interests you more, you should do that instead and complete the graduate diploma in law thereafter.

GCSEs/ A levels: Oxford Law doesn't have any mandatory subjects. They recommend (and I personally agree) taking essay based subjects (e.g. English Literature, Geography, Economics, History). If you want to play it safe, consider taking at least 2 subjects from the "facilitating subjects" (https://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/undergrad...-combinations/)

It looks to me like T levels is partly vocational - a mix of classroom studies and work placement. Law at Oxford is VERY academically focused (the syllabus/ teaching has absolutely nothing to do with legal practice, and they don't care if you go on to practice Law or not) so I'm not sure if T levels would be the best preparation - best speak to admissions if this is something you really want to do.

College: I would NOT recommend living at home (at least for the first year) even if you live close to Oxford - I'm not even sure a college would permit this for first years barring exceptional circumstances (might be ok for later years if your home is within 6 miles of Carfax Tower, still would not recommend). Have a think about what matters most to you (e.g. kitchen access? being close to the city centre for all years of your course (bearing in mind that many of the central colleges' off-site accommodation can be quite far)? en-suite bathrooms?) and go read the prospectuses (official and student-produced alternatives). Shortlist a few colleges and visit them on open days.

Career advice: This is probably too early, but you can go take a look at the Legal forum, which can provide a better perspective and advice on being a solicitor/ barrister. For the record, I'm a corporate solicitor, and I would note that (a) pay is high for a reason; and (b) attrition rates are pretty high for City solicitors.
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PuddyCat
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This was very helpful. I’ve almost moved to wanting to go to Harvard and practice law overseas. But if that fails (either due to me not being good enough, or more likely - almost definitely - my mum not being too pleased with me wanting to be in another country before I even apply) I think I’ll still do a law degree in the UK as it is an interesting subject to me so I would probably enjoy it more than another subject.

If you need to be within 6 miles of carfax tower I definitely am not close enough. I am about 30 minutes away but I didn’t think that was far. Anyway, yeah I would look into accommodation when it comes to it.

I have my GCSE options soon so that is something I need to take a look at and personally I think those subjects would be useful.

I was wondering what you meant by pay is high for a reason. It’s hard, or it takes a while to get there etc.?

Thanks for the help.
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ZozinzComet
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Hey man, take it from a current year 12, you don’t need to worry about this now. Choose whatever GCSEs you like and get solid grades in them. That should be your goal for now I admire your forward thinking, but enjoy your secondary school years first.... it will go quick
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by PuddyCat)
This was very helpful. I’ve almost moved to wanting to go to Harvard and practice law overseas. But if that fails (either due to me not being good enough, or more likely - almost definitely - my mum not being too pleased with me wanting to be in another country before I even apply) I think I’ll still do a law degree in the UK as it is an interesting subject to me so I would probably enjoy it more than another subject.

If you need to be within 6 miles of carfax tower I definitely am not close enough. I am about 30 minutes away but I didn’t think that was far. Anyway, yeah I would look into accommodation when it comes to it.

I have my GCSE options soon so that is something I need to take a look at and personally I think those subjects would be useful.

I was wondering what you meant by pay is high for a reason. It’s hard, or it takes a while to get there etc.?

Thanks for the help.
Why do your Mum and Dad have so much say in all of this? What do you, personally, want to do?

And why do you want to commute in? Your whole uni career will revolve around your college, both studies and socialising. It's like having a second family. Commuting for 30 mins - why would you do that, when you can live in? And have you tried parking long term in Oxford? There are hardly any parking spaces in the city centre and the traffic wardens make a lot of money from parking tickets! Oxford does not recommend you take a car in at all.

It's best to concentrate hard on your GCSEs. The average Oxford law applicant has 5.2 8s/9s at GCSE. The average offer holder has 8 or 9 8s/9s

You will also need to look at the LNAT (Oxford law admissions test).

Please look at the course and see if it is for you. They study Roman Law there, and to some it will seem a bit of an old fashioned degree.

Take traditional A levels, it doesn't matter which (as long as it is not General Studies.)
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PuddyCat
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My parents don’t have so much of a say in it, it’s just that I think my mum would be too pleased if I decided to live in America, if I do end up deciding to go to Harvard she won’t stop me but I’m sure she’ll try. Secondly I don’t want to live at home, (which wasn’t anything to do with my parents, as explained further) but I don’t like living with other people I don’t know, which I understood as what usually happens. I can barely share a tent with my friends on DofE, I don’t think I’d be great living with people I have not met before. I said I would look into it. I will take a look at the course, I don’t mind if it’s old fashioned, I enjoy law. I want to become a lawyer because I have been told I would be good at it and I enjoy the subject, whereas a lot of my friends want to be lawyers for the money.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by PuddyCat)
My parents don’t have so much of a say in it, it’s just that I think my mum would be too pleased if I decided to live in America, if I do end up deciding to go to Harvard she won’t stop me but I’m sure she’ll try. Secondly I don’t want to live at home, (which wasn’t anything to do with my parents, as explained further) but I don’t like living with other people I don’t know, which I understood as what usually happens. I can barely share a tent with my friends on DofE, I don’t think I’d be great living with people I have not met before. I said I would look into it. I will take a look at the course, I don’t mind if it’s old fashioned, I enjoy law. I want to become a lawyer because I have been told I would be good at it and I enjoy the subject, whereas a lot of my friends want to be lawyers for the money.
Living in college is nothing like sharing a tent in dofe. You will have your own room and privacy. You can choose to be as sociable or as solitary as you like.

Plus you won’t get grass in your food in college, as you would when you are camping in the middle of a field.
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mishieru07
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(Original post by PuddyCat)
My parents don’t have so much of a say in it, it’s just that I think my mum would be too pleased if I decided to live in America, if I do end up deciding to go to Harvard she won’t stop me but I’m sure she’ll try. Secondly I don’t want to live at home, (which wasn’t anything to do with my parents, as explained further) but I don’t like living with other people I don’t know, which I understood as what usually happens. I can barely share a tent with my friends on DofE, I don’t think I’d be great living with people I have not met before. I said I would look into it. I will take a look at the course, I don’t mind if it’s old fashioned, I enjoy law. I want to become a lawyer because I have been told I would be good at it and I enjoy the subject, whereas a lot of my friends want to be lawyers for the money.
Everyone gets their own room at Oxford if you live in college accommodation (some colleges, including mine, might offer shared accommodation but you have to specifically opt into those with friends).

If you don't want to live with other people at all, you should seriously research student housing options in the US - my understanding is first year accommodation is typically shared, and this appears to be true for Harvard (https://college.harvard.edu/life-at-...sing-explained). You also don't get to pick your roommates, although I believe you fill out housing surveys and the university tries to match similar people together.

Have people explained why they think you'd be good as a lawyer? What kind of lawyer do you want to be - government? High street? City? They're all different in my view.

I honestly don't think it's possible to truly know what a job is like until you actually do it - work experience and internships do help to some extent, but it's a very different feeling being an actual full-time staff (for example, I would never make an intern stay late unless absolutely required - no such treatment for full-timers). Also, like I mentioned in my first post, my practice as a corporate solicitor has extremely little overlap with what I learnt in law school - I don't think I even spend 20% of my time doing legal analysis and research. My SO is a barrister and while he does do more legal research, he tells me it's still very different from law school.

(Original post by PuddyCat)
This was very helpful. I’ve almost moved to wanting to go to Harvard and practice law overseas. But if that fails (either due to me not being good enough, or more likely - almost definitely - my mum not being too pleased with me wanting to be in another country before I even apply) I think I’ll still do a law degree in the UK as it is an interesting subject to me so I would probably enjoy it more than another subject.

If you need to be within 6 miles of carfax tower I definitely am not close enough. I am about 30 minutes away but I didn’t think that was far. Anyway, yeah I would look into accommodation when it comes to it.

I have my GCSE options soon so that is something I need to take a look at and personally I think those subjects would be useful.

I was wondering what you meant by pay is high for a reason. It’s hard, or it takes a while to get there etc.?

Thanks for the help.
If you want to practise law overseas, you really need to look into jurisdiction requirements. Law is one of those careers which requires some hoop-jumping to move from one jurisdiction to another. That is not to say it's impossible, but you need to do your due diligence. Also, law in the US is an exclusively post-graduate degree so that pathway is very expensive in terms of total costs.

I can only really comment on City law, but it is generally brutal (some practices might be more brutal than others, but everyone goes through bad periods) in terms of commitment required. Hours can be horrific - my current record is entering the office at 10~am and leaving at 11pm the next day (this isn't the worst - someone in my cohort went home the next next day leading up to a trial). Pretty much everyone I know has pulled all nighters at some point. My office roommate and I were chatting the other day and to us, going home at midnight is "not too bad" and going home at 9pm is "pretty good". 9-5pm days are uncommon, and if you want to make plans outside of work hours (particularly weekday evenings, less so on weekends), you have to be prepared to shelve them at short notice if required. I never really know what to expect each day - I can come into the office thinking I've not got much, and then suddenly get slammed because client has dropped something urgent on us and end up working to 3+am (the reverse can happen too, when deals suddenly die).

There is also no such thing as being "off" - you are always expected to read emails and respond to them if necessary (some clients/ partners will get angry if you don't respond quickly enough). That includes evenings, weekends, public holidays, on holiday etc. For me, I find this stressful mentally because even when you don't have anything on, you're constantly worried the other shoe's about to drop.

If you need to do work, you are expected to get it done regardless - I know friends/ colleagues who spent a majority of their holidays working, had to cancel their holiday plans (which had already been approved and booked), miss meals with friends and families, skip concerts they were really looking forward to etc. All par for the course.

I think this is a realistic (if somewhat extreme) description of what it's like: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forum...p?f=4&t=261392

For the record, I came into the profession knowing that this was what's required and thinking I would be ok with it (for a few years at least). I'm 4 years in now, and all I can say is it's one thing to know something theoretically, and a completely different thing to sit in your office watching the sun rise at 6am after working all day and night and wondering why on earth you signed up for this in the first place.
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PuddyCat
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I am remarkably good at all nighters. Sometimes I surprise myself at how long I stay up doing homework if I’m particularly swarmed with it. I don’t mind it. Perhaps it’s worse because it’s a lot harder and a lot longer, but perhaps it’s easier because it’s something that interests me, I wouldn’t know.

We’re fairly well off I’d say, and I’m sure that my parents would pay tuition etc. at least in part if I were to be accepted to Harvard as they’d probably understand.

Also to be truthful I am not fully sure which kind of lawyer I’d want to be. Corporate seems interesting to me, although I’d like to take a look at what my options are. The only requests being I would like something in a city that pays decently, though I wouldn’t set my expectations too high, especially as that would be years into the future.
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