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BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)

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Fallacy

Joined: 23 May 2005
Posts: 16
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:06 AM
I am lucky to have received offers from both Oxford and Cambrdige. I am still waiting to hear from Harvard. I am considering a career at the bar after my graduation. Which one of these places should I go to?
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ap123
Joined: 10 Mar 2006
Posts: 5
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:30 PM
I presume that you intend to get to the commercial bar - if so, then in the popular perception of most commercial barristers, Cambridge simply isn't as well respected as the BCL, and accordingly you would probably want to opt for the latter.

As for Harvard, again, the perception is that the BCL is a more demanding course. However, the prestige of Harvard probably outweighs that - further, most people applying for pupillage at the commercial bar would have done the BCL, whereas very few (i.e. probably two or three in a year across all the sets of chambers) would have been to Harvard.
I would say that its almost an even balance between the two with Harvard having the slight edge.

This is simply the perception of the bar - the fact is that as far as intellectual development is concerned, whichever place you go to, you'll still be around highly intelligent and focused people and will be taught by highly intelligent people, all of whom were probably contenders for a place at each of these institutions.

Good luck in making your choice!

Btw, I understand that Harvard LLM decisions are out - they emailed most, if not all, the successful applicants. You can call them to find out your result.
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sachin
Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 13
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Fri Apr 07, 2006 01:03 PM
ap123 is dead on there. So many barristers at top Chambers have BCL's...it gets nuff respect. Apparently in the field of international law there is little between the two, but overall its the BCL by a country mile!
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Yellow
Joined: 01 May 2005
Posts: 136
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Fri Apr 07, 2006 05:49 PM
Yes I am biased but if you are interested in International Law I wouldn't discount Cambridge. It has a really great reputation for international law and has some of the best practitioners in that field who are also at the bar.
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studentbarista
Joined: 06 Jan 2006
Posts: 47
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Fri Apr 07, 2006 08:53 PM
I would go for Harvard, even if you do want to go for the Commercial Bar.

BCLs are prestigious, but travel poorly outside of the Bar (even to the big law firms). The BCL is only narrowly prestigious, whereas Harvard has an international clout that the BCL just can't match. Most people with a BCL have to put a disclaimer like this

'BCL - Master's level qualification from Oxford University.'

I would definitely go for Harvard, if you can afford it, as it will open more doors and stand you in good stead for the longer term.
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Fallacy

Joined: 23 May 2005
Posts: 16
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Sat Apr 08, 2006 08:06 PM
Thank you all for your valuable advice.

Let me give you some background about myself. I come from a non-EU jurisdiction. I intend to learn something useful for legal practice during the BCL/LLM year. I am interested in contract law, property law, equity and international law.


I actually come up with these thoughts when deciding where to go:

1) Cambridge seems to allow students to take more subjects (four courses) when compared to Oxford (three to four)

2) Cambridge offers more practical and interesting law courses

3) But Oxford has the reputation.

4) I am interesting in Conflicts but don't know how useful the course will be for my the practice in my home country.

5) I need a friendly environment with friendly teachers and friendly peers so that I can feel less homesick.

I would love to hear your advice.

Fallacy
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Yellow
Joined: 01 May 2005
Posts: 136
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:52 AM
I really like Cambridge but if you are looking for a lot of contact with teachers then maybe Oxford would be a better place for you to be. To be honest you could die IN A CLASS in Cambridge and noone would notice. In fact I'm pretty sure my supervisor has started to block my emails. That said I do really like Cambridge!
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MrK
Joined: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 8
BCL(Oxon) vs LLM(Cantab)
Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:11 PM
If you're considering a career at the commercial bar then I'd go for the BCL - the tutorial system at oxford gives you a much better opportunity to develop your legal advocacy skills than other lecture-based masters courses. In the end, that's what will get you a pupillage, not the reputation of the institution that you attend.
Graduating from the masters programmes at Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard will get you an interview at a leading set of chambers but given the level of competition these days it certainly won't guarantee you a pupillage. That said, I agree with studentbarrista that the Harvard LLm is probably more prestigious in the legal profession generally and is a better choice if you want to keep you're options open.
Both Cambridge and Oxford have excellent reputations in the areas that you've mentioned. As to which is better, well that probably will come down to who you end up with as your tutors/ lecturers.
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