Socrates, one of the first Greek philosophers, was executed in Athens in 399BC. One of the charges in the indictment against him was that he had the power to make a weaker case seem stronger. A lawyer’s ability to take either side of a case, and in fact argue for it, fascinates me greatly. It is only through law that I will be able to develop and execute this skill.
Using the witness statements to contribute at the cross-examination of a mock case with the help of two barristers specialising in serious criminal cases was the moment that confirmed for me that I wanted to study the law follow the law and practice the law, as the winning of the prosecuting barrister was empowering. At the Young Lawyer Programme I got an insight into the life of a lawyer through interactive sessions and personal networking time with former human rights legal adviser to the current Prime Minister, and a senior commercial lawyer from a Magic Circle law firm.
Alongside my A-levels I enjoy reading about legal topics. After reading ‘Understanding EU Law’ by Adam Cygan and ‘International Law’ by Rebecca Wallace I developed an interest in soft-law making used in contemporary international relations by states and international organisations. To take this further, I listened to an Oxford podcast by Alan Boyle, a specialist in international law where he examined what encourages the use of ‘soft’ law instruments in UN law-making. I concluded that soft-law is a product of the English legal system and it should be understood, not simply dismissed as something that is not law. Thus, studying law with an international element to it would be ideal. Reading ‘Letters to a Law student’ I came across Lord Mansfield and his striking phrase, the law eventually ‘works itself pure’ of its past failures. Studying law at university will allow me to develop a practical sense of what works and what doesn’t work in ordering society linking it to current political events.
Attending a Sutton Trust Law Summer School, I had the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars giving me a taste of a law degree. Studying OAPA 1861 at college meant I was able to apply that knowledge at a seminar on the debate if Berlinah Wallace 2018 should have been convicted of murder. She was sentenced a 12-year prison sentence at the Bristol Crown Court. The following day I had the opportunity to spend a whole day at the court this important case was heard seeing the law being applied by judges in cases. Travelling to Newcastle for the summer school, I explored what studying law is like by talking to current students but also attending multiple lectures including an international politics with global economy lecture I was particularly interested in. Further, at another summer school I was able to develop my transferrable skills; I had the chance to live in halls with students from all over the country working on my communication skills.
At a Law Masterclass at the University of Cambridge last year I was firstly introduced to the concept of fault ‘culpa’ I developed an interest in by Dr Benjamin Spagnolo. I researched assessment of culpa in typical situations, as there is no generalised principle or test for this and the jurist’s treatment is casuistic. While reading ‘Studying Roman Law’ by Paul Du Plessis I came across the barber case (D. 9.2.11). In this case I concluded that culpa can be made up of range of factors. If the barber doesn’t want to be liable under the ‘lex Aquilia’ then the shop shouldn’t be set up near where people play with balls therefore preventing the killing of slaves.
Apart from my A-Level studies at college, I am part of the Aspire group where I get to debate a lot of current topics including: ‘healthcare is not a human right’. I read an article on this by Philip Barlow a consultant neurosurgeon that had a very biased view that it should not be human right using the argument that the question is not capable of definition as this topic is uncertain. Is health care a right to basic provisions such as clean water and adequate food or right to cosmic surgery and organ transplantation. Following this debate at college I wanted to explore the increasing struggles that have arisen in the last four decades at the United Nations and elsewhere who gets to define human rights in practice. By attending a debate at the University of London I was able to explore the topic of uncertainty further as philosophers and lawyers argue amongst themselves about how real human rights such as freedom from torture can be distinguished from fake ones (a right to the internet) daily.
I feel it is important to contribute to society such as having the opportunity to do pro bono work at university. Being a selected member of the school council for multiple years, a prefect and a college ambassador, I improved my communication, leadership and team working skills through responsibilities such as giving assemblies, helping at open days, organising fundraising events and leading community games for primary school students. I also have a part- time job tutoring two primary students weekly, this requires me to be organised by planning the sessions. Further, I volunteer at a language school every Saturday using my bilingual skills being a teacher assistant at a Greek GCSE class. My ability to balance all these commitments with my successful academic studies reflect how committed I am to my academic studies.
(Further international charitable activities include travelling to Attica, Greece this summer following the devastating fires to volunteer for five days at Rafina’s city hall collecting donations and advising citizens on what schemes are available for them. My family’s home was destroyed along with the other thousands of buildings. This raised my awareness of current international challenges, inspiring me to work for a global organisation such as the United Nations to be able to confront common challenges.)