My Personal Statement: University of Oxford | Law - Rupert B.

13 FEB 2021

Rupert got into the University of Oxford to study Law with his personal essay about how his early interest in legal studies inspired him to conduct independent research, visit courthouses, and start his own legal blog to broaden his knowledge on the subject and illustrate his long-term dedication to it.

This essay is part of a collection of personal statements written by Crimson students who were accepted to their top-choice universities in the US and UK. By bringing together nearly 25 of our best students’ essays, we want to provide inspiration for future students with the same aspirations and goals. This series will showcase the wonderful variety in our student’s essay creations — powered by their personal voice and supported by their dedicated Crimson essay mentors. Ready to be inspired? Let’s go…

It is interesting to consider what life would be like without laws. Would we be freer and happier or more self-destructive? Laws can be a mechanism for restricting autonomy; to follow Mill’s Harm Principle, this would be aberrant. He argues individuals should be at liberty unless others are harmed by their actions. I lend myself to this view since laws can act as fetters and individuals, by nature, disobey strict limits. Paternalism goes further by sacrificing autonomy to protect people from their imperfections. Laws are a necessity, but the line between these principles is a difficult one to draw. Thinking about such underlying legal issues has encouraged me to broaden my knowledge of the mechanics of judicial systems.

The rule of law forms the basis of such systems and suggests that no one is above the law. Thus, my intuition leads me to feel exasperated when executive lawlessness appears. For example, in Bennett V Horseferry Road Magistrates’ Court (1993) where an appellant was unlawfully extradited for trial. To uphold the conviction proposes a fallacy: it effectively condones an ultra vires action, thus deviating from the rule of law. I concur with Lord Bridge’s view that to dismiss the appeal would be ‘insular and unacceptable’ and was captivated by this check on abuse of power. Consequently, I followed the Australian Lawyer X case whereby a criminal defence lawyer has concurrently served as a police informant. This breach of the Law Council of Australia’s client confidentiality rules is insupportable as it permits punishment without proof of guilt through proper channels. I am keen to explore these key systems in greater depth to determine the extent to which such systems should be flexible.

I have also been fortunate to see how judicial frameworks operate comparatively by visiting courthouses and examining processes such as jury selection. Subsequently, by reading excerpts about juries in Understanding Law (Adams, Brownsword), I can appreciate the theoretical benefits of community values being reflected in the verdict. However, in practice, there are perplexed juries who, despite understanding the law, place preference on innate judgements. Thus, a verdict may be presented that is not in accordance with basic legal principles. During a recent Monash University moot, I was able to experience a judicial determination and discovered the depth of information that needs to be considered by a judge to find in your favour. Our case involved defending a man charged with theft and our team relied upon the physical impossibility of the crime occurring. Proving this to the judge required attention to detail and diligence as we explored floor plans and developed timelines.

My perspective on the law has been broadened by my online legal blog. On this, I interview luminaries from the legal profession (recently, a retired Court of Appeal QC) and analyse contemporary legal cases by taking out the most important information to promote clarity for readers. I have distributed some newsletters to a student Facebook page with over 61,000 members I run alongside my schoolwork. It has already been described by one user as reinforcing and expanding their passion for the law. Such responses make the time- commitment and independent creation worthwhile. In 2020, I hope to expand the scope of my blog to incorporate some learnings from my undergraduate studies.

I believe I am well suited to law as I have always been dedicated and consistent in producing high-quality work. For example, in 2018, I achieved a perfect score of 50 (top 0.01% of the state) in VCE Psychology and was Dux (top pupil) of Legal Studies and 3rd Dux of Year 11. I am the 2019 Vice-Captain of Snowsports, a School Officer and have received school colours for tennis and snowsports. These roles indubitably aid my time-management and organisation.

NEXT WEEK: Read the essay that got Shreya T. into USC, NYU, and UC Berkeley!

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