Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Studying law

studying law booksNitish Upadhyaya is in his first year of a law degree at Cambridge University. He took part in The Social Mobility Foundation’s internship programmes during his A-levels. Read on to find out about his experiences and to get some tips on your university interview.

How did you organise your internships?

Well, students at my school were given the opportunity to apply for placements through a charity called the Social Mobility Foundation. We had various meetings with the foundation and were given advice on drafting CVs, and doing interviews. It was like applying for a job, which was also part of the experience.

Can you describe your experiences at the two placements?

I did two internships before university. One with a solicitors’ firm called Morgan Lewis for two weeks, and the other one was a week at a barristers’ chambers.

At Morgan Lewis I got to work on a case involving a high street bank. It was really exciting. The first few days I was learning the ropes and sitting in on various meetings. After that they trusted me enough to run off to the court, make a few enquires, and file papers that needed to be in court. I even started to draft a report on one of the people in the trial.

I was lucky to get a second internship because someone dropped out at the last minute. Working at a barristers’ chambers was a very different experience from the city law firm. I spent most of my time with one barrister. He would get a call saying he would be representing someone the next day, and we’d be running off trying to make sure we knew what the case was about. I discovered that barristers are ordinary people, which was really important.

In what ways did you find your internships useful?

Law is glamorised on TV, and soon after starting my internships I realised that once you get down to the nitty gritty of it, there is a hell of a lot of work involved!

The internships were important, not just with making my mind up about whether I wanted to do law in the first place, but because they provided a unique selling point on my CV and UCAS form. They were also fantastic experiences to be able to talk about at my Cambridge interview. In fact, I spent most of my general interview talking about them.

Have you any advice to give someone filling out a UCAS form?

Yes. Get your applications done as soon as possible. You don’t want it hanging over your head, especially if you have January modules.

What was the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) like?

LNAT is all about critical and logical thinking. You get multiple-choice questions, which ask you to reason out what the logical decision is in a certain passage. The second part is an essay, in which you should demonstrate that you are able to argue your case effectively.

It’s important to practice early by buying a book or looking at the sample test papers on their website. The website is a really useful tool to familiarise yourself with the format before the exam.

Any tips for your university interview?

It is definitely a good idea to research current events, because law develops so much over the course of a week, and a major decision could change everything that has gone before it. I listened to the BBC’s Law in Action and read The Times law supplement. That sort of research is perfect for the interview because they want to see that you are up-to-date on current events, and also that you are interested in law, not just academically, but also in the way it operates in the real world.

Are you enjoying studying law?

Definitely. I love the logical reasoning aspect as well as the real life aspect. The first two or three weeks are a real shock to the system, because it’s a massive jump compared to A levels. The amount of reading you have at Cambridge is immense. Every week I read about 300 pages on law, plus ten cases. I love reading some of the cases. They are about every day people, so it is very interesting. Some of them are incredibly funny and some are really morbid!

Have you any advice for someone who is thinking of studying law?

You have to really have passion for the subject. Read a few books, and if you can get a few weeks of work experience, do it! It’s also good to get used to speaking under pressure. Do practice interviews at school, or get your mum and dad to give you tough questions that you have to think about.