Law: Reuben Vandercruyssen, Third Year


Name: Reuben Vandercruyssen

Subject: Law

Year: 3rd

A-levels taken: English Literature, History, French, Geography

What does your working week entail?
By third year, lawyers have a lot more choice as to what papers they take. Only two compulsory full papers remain: Equity and EU. We can then choose from an array of other options: other full papers, half-papers and dissertation seminars. I have chosen Family Law and Criminology as two full papers, with half-papers in Medical Law and Civil Procedure. For each full paper, you have four supervisions a term and two or three lectures a week. In each of the half-papers, there are no supervisions and one lecture a week. Dissertation seminars are split up into different areas of law (i.e. Public Law, Women and the Law, Criminal Law and Ethics) with one weekly session in which students present ideas and discuss issues that arise.

For me, this equates to two hours of supervision a week and eleven hours of lectures - and at most one essay a week - not a lot more than a first year lawyer. It's all quite manageable. For each supervision, you have to do some reading: textbooks; articles, cases. But the amount you actually do varies a lot - if you get loads out of lectures, you might not need to put that many hours in with the books; if you prefer to snooze through a 9am, a couple of extra hours with a textbook will do the job. Essays are either conventional 1500 word responses (questions I've had this term include: "The rights of an expectant mother should always prevail over her foetus. Discuss"; "Civil partnerships discriminate against heterosexual couples. Discuss".) or problem questions, with a set of facts (i.e. Sandy left his car parked without using the handbrake. Jonny was struck by Sandy's car. He broke his leg. After the operation on his leg, it got infected.) to which you must offer some legal guidance. It was a step up in first year but by third year, the format comes quite easily to most lawyers.

Thursday 1st November 2012:
10am - Wake up. Had a late-ish one doing an essay for Friday's Criminology supervision, so a lie-in follows. The submission deadline was 12pm today: often such deadlines are for 24 hours before a supervision - not ideal for sleeping patterns.
10.50am - Dash to Law Faculty at Sidgewick site for EU law lecture.
12pm - Following an hour of boredom, get some Equity reading done at the Faculty - after a bite to eat. Prep a bit for Family Supervision later in the day.
4pm - Go to Criminology lecture.
5pm - Head to Family Law Supervision at Gonville & Caius College. Quite a lot of Christ's supervisions take place at other Colleges, meaning we get the best quality of supervision wherever possible.
7pm - After a great supervision - about divorce (always fun) - I get ready for a Dinner in College. I find that most work can get done during the day, whether that be in my room or in the Faculty, so evenings are free for more fun activities. There are a few late ones - but that's usually only when you get 2 essays in a week instead of 1. Of course, that means you'll have none the next week or at some point later in term - more time for other stuff.
10pm - After enjoying the Milton Society Dinner in College, I head to the Bar before a night of revelry in Cambridge's finest club - Lola Lo.

How easily can you fit social activities into your working week?
As I've hinted, you have plenty of time to do what you want if you're a little bit organised. I do football training for a couple of hours on Wednesdays and spend about four hours refereeing and playing in IIs matches at the weekend. I watch five or six matches a week. I go to the bar for several hours and go out two or three times a week. I go to Debates at the Cambridge Union Society and do more law-oriented social activities too (mooting etc). There are plenty of Dinners and Balls to fill your time during Term, especially if you're a lawyer and countless law firms are queuing up to take you for free food and drink. You need to get a balance, of course. But my Thursday above involved two hours of lecture, one hour of supervision and approx three hours of reading. In reality, if you work well enough, you shouldn't need to do more than five or six hours on a weekday during Term. I was then able to have a nice dinner in college and go out without this being too detrimental to Friday. And to put that in context, on Friday I had three hours of lectures and another supervision.

Any tips for the interview and Christ's on the whole?
Law involves a written exam and two interviews on legal issues: one on a contentious legal issue; one in a problem question scenario. It's all about responding to the interviewer's questions and trying to give thoughtful answers. The interviewer will shift their views and adapt questions depending on how you respond - the trick is not backing down too much, but not being too stubborn! More generally, I've found Christ's to be a great college for law - just ten minutes from the Faculty, great Directors of Studies and fun lawyers. We have good Dinners and the first year Mooting Competition was a very memorable experience. I've had a brilliant time here and though it's not always been easy in terms of work, the quality of the education you get makes it all worthwhile. In some of my modules I've had supervisions with world-leaders: these are the cleverest people you'll ever meet and they give supervisions because they want to teach you. Christ's wants people who like learning and this shouldn't be forgotten - enthusiasm is key to this. An upbeat, positive approach - at interview and to life in general - always goes down really well.

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