Law Interview Top Tips
If you get an invitation to interview for Law at Oxford - super duper congrats!! You've been sifted out from hundreds of applicants, and this should feel like an amazing achievement. Only around 20-30 people are invited to interview at each college, so you're genuinely one of a chosen few.
That said, law interviews can be kind of scary. It's obvious why, of course - a subject you've (probably) never studied, something completely foreign, and two 30 minute interviews are going to determine whether you get your place?! It sounds so crazy when it's put like that, but the truth of the matter is that a) the interviews can be the most enjoyable part of the application process and b) you don't need to know any law to do well at interview.
There are three tips I want to impart upon you, future lawyers-to-be (you may have noticed that I like lists. As a lawyer, you too will learn to like lists. There is no escape.):
1) Preparation is reading the news, not reading the law
Every college differs in the contents of its law interviews, but you'll generally have a 'legal' interview and a 'moral' interview. In the legal interview, you get given a very basic bit of a statute - say something on criminal damage, and a very short case to go with it. You'll be given some prep time before you go into your interview, and the interview will consist of discussion around the case. There's no possibility of predicting what statute you'll be given, but it'll likely be re-written to make sure that the language is as simple as possible. The test here isn't to see how good you are at understanding the law! All you have to do is articulate your opinion and your thought processes, and engage in discussion with the tutors.
I remember being given a statute on damage to property, and whether a part of something being damaged (there, a car) meant that someone could claim punitive damages. My scenario was about a guy who’d bought a perfectly working car from one place, and some faulty tires from another, and had the tires blow up. The car crashed, and my tutors got me to debate whether or not the poor car owner could claim damages. I started off by arguing for the owner, and then my tutors took over my role and I had to argue the exact opposite of what I’d been saying 30 seconds ago! It was never a question of whether I was right or wrong – they just wanted to see how I argued.
Interview #2 is the moral interview, and this is where reading the news can be handy. The aim of this interview is to see how you respond to your ideas being challenged and if you can think on your feet. The tutor will often bring up an example problem, which could be something that's been in the news recently, or it could be a philosophical issue – for example, I got asked about a window cleaner who cleaned your windows without checking first, and then expected payment, and the scenario gradually involved to more and more morally awkward questions that forced me to re-construct the general rules I was stating on the fly. The tutors will almost definitely play with the scenario a bit, and get you to adapt your answers - please don't panic! Focus on backing up all of your opinions and don't be afraid to ask for help if you get confused. Take it from a first year lawyer: having to ask for help during your interview is never a bad thing, and I definitely asked for lots of clarification.
I can't say this enough - interviews are the time where you can suss out life at Oxford and figure out if it's really for you. It's tempting to stay holed up in your room, panicking over a thousand loose bits of paper and preparatory notes, but it's much better for your health to go out there and interact with your fellow applicants and the students who have stayed behind to look after you. Everyone is so lovely, if a bit nervous, and the students will organise lots of different activities to help you all bond. It's a fantastic way to get your mind off the stress of interviews and to make sure you're looking after yourself during what is always a bit of a tense time.
That being said, don't feel pressured to go out all the time. If you feel that you'd benefit from a 10pm lights-out rather than staying up playing board games, then go to bed! Prioritise you and your body's needs - everyone will understand, and the actual students will probably be impressed that you have so much self-restraint ;)
3) Enjoy the process
I touched upon this a little above, but your time at interviews is pretty similar to what actually studying at Oxford is like, if a bit more low-key. Engage with the debates your tutors lead you into, talk to everyone around you, explore the city (the Covered Market, for example, is a fantastic place to wander around!) and see some of the famous landmarks. Figure out if Oxford is really for you, and enjoy being in such a gorgeous city. Some of you will be at interview when the Christmas Market is open - why not go with the rest of the law applicants after a long day of interviews and chilling in the JCR? Just remember to wrap up warm, please: Oxford is very cold in December!
Best of luck to all of you - I hope you have a fantastic and memorable time at interview! If any of you are applying to Worcester College (aka the best college just saying), or even if you're not, come say hi to me on Instagram if you've got any questions!
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