Charlotte Warke

The question of why I chose to study law is one with endless answers! To me, law is one of the most dynamic and diverse subjects one can study. The intellectual challenge of this subject appealed to me greatly – law isn’t merely studied in a bubble concerned with its current state and application. Instead, theoretical, contextual and ethical issues are consistently taken into consideration and are subject to much academic debate. Questions of why the law is the way it is, and perhaps what it should be, are deliberated against the broader social, historical, economic and political context, rendering the subject extremely stimulating. Work experience involving time spent in solicitors’ offices and shadowing barristers in court really opened my eyes to the many areas of law that actually exist, and none of them sounded dull! When studying law, there is an extensive range of papers available, which encourages you to take the opportunity to pursue your own interests. In addition to the two second year ‘Foundation’ papers of Contract Law and Land Law, I opted for International Law, which is one of the areas of law that I first found most intriguing and sparked my initial interest in studying law. In addition, having thoroughly enjoyed learning Constitutional law in my first year, I chose Administrative law as I find the theoretical concepts thought-provoking and its application in the public law realm fascinating. My final option this year is Criminology, Sentencing and the Penal System, which I find exciting as it engages questions of a more sociological and policy-based nature.

In my opinion, Clare is the ideal college to choose. It has the advantage of a perfect location, being close to the centre of town, and when you are living in Memorial Court’s great accommodation as a fresher, you are a mere five minutes away from the Faculty of Law. Old Court is really quite beautiful, and the stunning gardens are the perfect place to relax during the summer, which is the perfect time of year to take advantage of the college-owned punts. Clare is situated right on the river, which is incredibly scenic, and you’ll never tire of the picturesque views when walking across Clare Bridge. The variety of societies offered here is exceptional – there really is something for everyone, whether you’re interested in politics, music, drama, sport or something totally different, and you are always more than welcome, regardless of your ability. Clare is renowned for having the best student-run college bar in the whole university, and it hosts Clare Ents every Friday night, as well as termly bops. Before coming to Cambridge, I didn’t expect that I would attend so many formal dinners. Clare has formal hall every weekday and you can attend as often or as infrequently as you choose. There is something so novel and so ‘Cambridge’ about wearing a gown to dinner! Another Cambridge tradition is May Week after the end of exams. Clare’s spectacular May Ball is one of the most popular of the week’s festivities, and for me it was one of the highlights of my first year.

Never having thought that receiving an offer from Cambridge was even remotely possible, the application process felt rather daunting, especially given that I had no substantial legal knowledge whatsoever, and I was going to be interviewed by no less than a Cambridge academic, an expert in their field. However, I discovered that there was really no need to have such a worry. My interview lasted approximately twenty minutes, and during this time I was presented with a hypothetical scenario involving legal problems. It was not expected that I knew the relevant law. What was more crucial was that I could think carefully on my feet about what I was going to say in response to the questions I was asked. Interviews will be looking for demonstration of a logical, step-by-step thought process, guided by the employment of well-supported reasoning. Upon reflection, I found my interview to be more enjoyable than nerve-wracking! In addition to the interview, there is the Clare Law Test, which is a comprehension-based, 90-minute exam. Once again, the basis of the extracts lay in legal concepts, however, as opposed to an assessment of your legal knowledge, it is your ability to read carefully the extract and analyse it closely, before evaluating and applying the relevant information in a logical way to answer the questions posed.

Studying law is certainly challenging in such a fast-paced learning environment with such a steep learning curve. However, it is simultaneously rewarding and enjoyable, and you will end up finding the demanding nature of the course advantageous. There are two Law Reading Rooms available 24 hours a day, exclusively for Clare lawyers and land economists. This facility provides almost all of the resources you will need, as well as securing a relaxed study atmosphere, where you can work closely with your peers and discuss the work as a group. There are ten lawyers in my year, and its very helpful to hear each other’s thoughts and opinions on a particular point at issue. I have found that I got to know the other lawyers in all year groups at Clare very well as you spend so much time working together, as well as attending lectures and supervisions together on a daily basis. The Clare College Law Society has termly ‘Small Hall’ dinners, which provide important networking opportunities, as well as the chance to find out about various law firms. The supervisors and your Director of Studies at Clare are dedicated academics who are helpful and approachable and happy to answer your questions. They provide invaluable advice and guidance, and constantly push you to fulfil your potential. This greatly supplements the supportive community advocated by Clare, in terms of academic and tutorial staff, as well as the students. In my opinion, the best thing about Clare is that it really lives up to its reputation as the ‘friendly college’ with its community atmosphere giving it great character. I didn’t imagine that I would ever feel so at home at Clare, and I would whole-heartedly encourage you to apply here!