LLM/BCL - better for the Bar?


Hi all!

So I've recently heard back from my applications for the Cambridge LLM and Oxford BCL for the 2023/24 academic year.

I have been very fortunate to have been offered a place at Cambridge but was rejected from Oxford.

I know that the BCL is very highly regarded at the Bar and as an aspiring Barrister I was wondering whether it would be worth withdrawing the LLM offer at Cam to re-apply for the BCL.

I graduated with a very high first (top 2 in my cohort) at a non-Russell Group university and did many extra-curriculars/mooting.

I would be grateful for any/all advice and many thanks in advance!

Hi all!

So I've recently heard back from my applications for the Cambridge LLM and Oxford BCL for the 2023/24 academic year.

I have been very fortunate to have been offered a place at Cambridge but was rejected from Oxford.

I know that the BCL is very highly regarded at the Bar and as an aspiring Barrister I was wondering whether it would be worth withdrawing the LLM offer at Cam to re-apply for the BCL.

I graduated with a very high first (top 2 in my cohort) at a non-Russell Group university and did many extra-curriculars/mooting.

I would be grateful for any/all advice and many thanks in advance!
quote

I’m basically in exactly the same position, even CV-wise by the sounds of it! 
Having spoken with some barristers, it seems that whilst the BCL is seen as having the edge on the LLM, it’s still a masters degree from Cambridge and will certainly never look bad on the cv. 
Nothing guarantees pupillage but it’ll certainly help applications! 

I’m basically in exactly the same position, even CV-wise by the sounds of it!&nbsp;<br>Having spoken with some barristers, it seems that whilst the BCL is seen as having the edge on the LLM, it’s still a masters degree from Cambridge and will certainly never look bad on the cv.&nbsp;<br>Nothing guarantees pupillage but it’ll certainly help applications!&nbsp;
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Congrats on your cam offer!! Yes, it seems like a catch 22 situation. As most pupillage applications aren’t cv blind I suppose Cambridge wouldn’t look too bad haha. 

Do you think you’ll accept the Cambridge offer then?

I’m basically in exactly the same position, even CV-wise by the sounds of it! 
Having spoken with some barristers, it seems that whilst the BCL is seen as having the edge on the LLM, it’s still a masters degree from Cambridge and will certainly never look bad on the cv. 
Nothing guarantees pupillage but it’ll certainly help applications! 

Congrats on your cam offer!! Yes, it seems like a catch 22 situation. As most pupillage applications aren’t cv blind I suppose Cambridge wouldn’t look too bad haha.&nbsp;<br><br>Do you think you’ll accept the Cambridge offer then?<br><br>[quote]I’m basically in exactly the same position, even CV-wise by the sounds of it!&nbsp;<br>Having spoken with some barristers, it seems that whilst the BCL is seen as having the edge on the LLM, it’s still a masters degree from Cambridge and will certainly never look bad on the cv.&nbsp;<br>Nothing guarantees pupillage but it’ll certainly help applications!&nbsp; [/quote]
quote
Inactive User

personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm.

personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm.
quote

personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm.


Hey! Thank you for your insight! After seeing the the first reply I asked a few barristers myself and they’ve all confirmed that while the BCL absolutely has an edge over the LLM - doing the LLM at Cambridge would be the best alternative. Also having already graduated - I think I put the strongest application I could have forward and Oxford doesn’t really take experience into account otherwise I wouldn’t be having such a dilemma :/ 

If I may ask, what makes you say there significant difference? The acceptance rates a mere 3% apart. 


[quote]personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is&nbsp;significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm. [/quote]<br><br>Hey! Thank you for your insight! After seeing the the first reply I asked a few barristers myself and they’ve all confirmed that while the BCL absolutely has an edge over the LLM - doing the LLM at Cambridge would be the best alternative. Also having already graduated - I think I put the strongest application I could have forward and Oxford doesn’t really take experience into account otherwise I wouldn’t be having such a dilemma :/&nbsp;<br><br>If I may ask, what makes you say there significant difference? The acceptance rates a mere 3% apart.&nbsp;<br><br><br>
quote

personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm.


Hey! Thank you for your insight! After seeing the the first reply I asked a few barristers myself and they’ve all confirmed that while the BCL absolutely has an edge over the LLM - doing the LLM at Cambridge would be the best alternative. Also having already graduated - I think I put the strongest application I could have forward and Oxford doesn’t really take experience into account otherwise I wouldn’t be having such a dilemma :/ 

If I may ask, what makes you say there significant difference? The acceptance rates a mere 3% apart. 

 

Also my impression is that the BCL is practically a feeder into the Bar, I’ve not really heard it having that level of prestige elsewhere apart from simply being an oxbridge degree. Such as the LLM from cam. But I’d love to hear if you’ve heard otherwise :) 

[quote][quote]personally, i think it makes sense to work for a year and then try for the bcl. i got into both and also harvard, and the general consensus, even outside the bar, is that the difference between the llm at cambridge and the bcl is&nbsp;significant. if you don’t want to wait a year and risk not getting into oxford again, by all means go for the llm. [/quote]<br><br>Hey! Thank you for your insight! After seeing the the first reply I asked a few barristers myself and they’ve all confirmed that while the BCL absolutely has an edge over the LLM - doing the LLM at Cambridge would be the best alternative. Also having already graduated - I think I put the strongest application I could have forward and Oxford doesn’t really take experience into account otherwise I wouldn’t be having such a dilemma :/&nbsp;<br><br>If I may ask, what makes you say there significant difference? The acceptance rates a mere 3% apart.&nbsp;<br><br> [/quote]&nbsp;<br><br>Also my impression is that the BCL is practically a feeder into the Bar, I’ve not really heard it having that level of prestige elsewhere apart from simply being an oxbridge degree. Such as the LLM from cam. But I’d love to hear if you’ve heard otherwise :)&nbsp;
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Selective ...

I mean I'll preface by saying that I don't intend to become a barrister, so you can take what I say with a pinch of salt.

I have also heard of the Oxford BCL being characterised as the "golden ticket to the bar" – certainly if you scroll through the barristers of the top chambers (e.g. One Essex Court), and scroll down to the newest barristers with the most recent call of the bar years, you still see a disproportionate number of people with Oxford BCL distinctions with a dash of Cambridge LLMs throughout.

Saying that though, the Cambridge LLM is no laughing matter and can still pull its punches. Anecdotal evidence may not be super helpful, but I will say that I know a few barristers/pupils who did the LLM at Cambridge instead and their careers certainly weren't hindered by going to Cambridge instead.

Personally if I were in your position, I would take the Cambridge offer because the (potential) gains for waiting another year are marginal at best. Even if the BCL is seen as more prestigious or even more academically rigorous, all it can really do is open doors. It can't secure a pupillage for you – you would still have to work for it by performing well in interviews. I doubt doing the LLM at Cambridge would automatically mean those doors are shut. You'd still be able to secure interviews and you'd still have to work just as hard in them.

Moreover, I note that you've already graduated. You've done exceptionally well by ranking 2nd out of your entire cohort and you should be proud of yourself. The only slight issue with having graduated is that there isn't really many other options to sell yourself in terms of academic performance. Oxford has already made it clear that it doesn't put much weight on academic publications for instance because it says that not everyone will have had the opportunity to do them. Likewise, super-curriculars and mooting just aren't weighted as heavily as grades. That's not to say you couldn't get an offer from Oxford next time you applied – and if you decided to go down the route of trying again you definitely should reapply to Oxford – but you'd have to accept that there isn't much you can do on your end to make your application sharper than it already is.

In any case good luck with your decision.

I mean I'll preface by saying that I don't intend to become a barrister, so you can take what I say with a pinch of salt.<br><br>I have also heard of the Oxford BCL being characterised as the "golden ticket to the bar" – certainly if you scroll through the barristers of the top chambers (e.g. One Essex Court), and scroll down to the newest barristers with the most recent call of the bar years, you still see a disproportionate number of people with Oxford BCL distinctions with a dash of Cambridge LLMs throughout.<br><br>Saying that though, the Cambridge LLM is no laughing matter and can still pull its punches. Anecdotal evidence may not be super helpful, but I will say that I know a few barristers/pupils who did the LLM at Cambridge instead and their careers certainly weren't hindered by going to Cambridge instead.<br><br>Personally if I were in your position, I would take the Cambridge offer because the (potential) gains for waiting another year are marginal at best. Even if the BCL is seen as more prestigious or even more academically rigorous, all it can really do is open doors. It can't secure a pupillage for you – you would still have to work for it by performing well in interviews. I doubt doing the LLM at Cambridge would automatically mean those doors are shut. You'd still be able to secure interviews and you'd still have to work just as hard in them.<br><br>Moreover, I note that you've already graduated. You've done exceptionally well by ranking 2nd out of your entire cohort and you should be proud of yourself. The only slight issue with having graduated is that there isn't really many other options to sell yourself in terms of academic performance. Oxford has already made it clear that it doesn't put much weight on academic publications for instance because it says that not everyone will have had the opportunity to do them. Likewise, super-curriculars and mooting just aren't weighted as heavily as grades. That's not to say you couldn't get an offer from Oxford next time you applied – and if you decided to go down the route of trying again you definitely should reapply to Oxford – but you'd have to accept that there isn't much you can do on your end to make your application sharper than it already is.<br><br>In any case good luck with your decision.
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