Advantages of a 2nd BA in law from Oxford?
June 15, 2010 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I will be receiving an AB in Philosophy from a strong liberal arts college next year, with a 3.5 - 3.6 GPA. I'd like to continue my education at a T14 law school, but what (other?) opportunities/advantages would a second BA in Law from Oxford University bring?

I'm not too concerned about the law school path, although I'd be interested in knowing if the second degree would help at all. What benefits - other than intellectual development, which I don't want to discount - might come from a second bachelors in Law from Oxford?

I might also be interested in continuing after that with Oxford's BCL, although I would have to do exceptionally well in the undergraduate program.

If I did go ahead with a second degree, I could complete it in two years (thanks to "senior status" via my first degree) at a cost of about $50,000 which would require loans.

Will this increase my employability (and if so, where)? My likelihood of admission to a U.S. law school? Are my grades too bad? Is it not worth the cost?
posted by Picklegnome to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Law schools care about GPA and LSAT, everything else is a distant second. Check out to see how the admissions decisions are almost a direct function of those two factors.

Save your loans for law school.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:18 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

(current T10 law student who attended a small liberal arts school for undergrad)
posted by leotrotsky at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2010

Oh, and your GPA is fine. Crack 170 on the LSAT and you're pretty much a lock at one of the lower T14
posted by leotrotsky at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2010

LasT + GPA. That is all.
posted by k8t at 6:42 PM on June 15, 2010

If you get an LLB from Oxford, it's possible you could just go right into an LLM program at a US law school. NY and CA, I think, would both allow you to sit for their bar exams with an LLB and an LLM instead of a JD.
posted by holterbarbour at 6:54 PM on June 15, 2010

Yeah, a U.S. law school is not going to place much value on your Oxford law degree. I can also assure you that it will mean negative jack shit in the U.S. private law practice. While some firms (mine included) have U.K. offices, U.K. legal matters are exclusively the province of the many competent barristers and solicitors who practice only U.K. law. You may get more mileage if you work at an NGO or in politics.

Yes, get the degree if you'd like, but solely for the personal satisfaction (which may be great; I'd love to be called to Oxford for advanced studies in Britpop, Birds, and Babycham, but I have heretofore been rebuffed). Your return on investment likely will be low, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:55 PM on June 15, 2010

My baseline belief is that the second BA at Oxford is designed to fleece Americans out of money, and $50k is a lot of money. It's priced like a graduate course and sold as a quasi-graduate course, but it's not a graduate course.

If you wanted to practise law in England and Wales, you'd need to spend a further year doing the LPC or studying for the Bar, which means paying out more in fees. For the sake of comparison, if you graduate in the UK in a different subject, you can take a one-year conversion course and then decide on LPC/Bar.

The structure and underlying assumptions of legal education are so different-- IANAL, but it seems like an odd route to take unless you were dead-set on either practising in England or getting onto the BCL, and the Americans I encountered who did the Oxford BCL came in with JDs from T10 law schools. You're also likely to stick out like a sore thumb, given that you'd be arriving to study alongside British 19-20 year olds.
posted by holgate at 7:23 PM on June 15, 2010

As the undergraduate prospectus says, "The Oxford syllabus comprises topics chosen primarily for their intellectual interest, rather than for the frequency with which they arise in practice."

Compared to other undergraduate law-related courses in the UK, the Oxford BA in Jurisprudence (there is no "Law" degree) is of unusually little direct use to an aspiring practicing British lawyer, never mind someone intending to practice outside of Europe.

There are reasons to do this degree as a second BA, but professional development is not one of them.
posted by caek at 7:47 PM on June 15, 2010

Best answer: I was in a very similar position to you. I had a 3.62 and majored in philosophy at a good state university. 162 and then 169 on the LSAT (going from the 88th to 97th percentile). Not an underrepresented minority. Applied to all top 14 schools except Yale. I went to Cornell Law School. I didn't get into any other top 14 schools, though I was waitlisted at some that I canceled before getting a final decision. I might have gotten into quite a few more of the schools I applied to if it hadn't been for my first LSAT score.

If I imagine myself transported back in time, there's no way it would have made any sense to get an illustrious pre-law degree between college and law school.

As far as "employability" ... I don't want to make a definitive statement about how employers would view an Oxford jurisprudence degree (especially since I had never heard of it before reading your post). But I have a hard time seeing how it would make much of a difference. It could be a negative if it makes you look like someone who wanted to stay in academia for as long as possible. I'll put it this way: I've seen a lot of law job announcements that express a preference or requirement for special distinctions that most law students don't have. What are they? They're things like knowing Chinese or having a science background. I've never seen one that suggested an interest in hiring someone with an Oxford jurisprudence degree.

There are many other things you could with two extra years between college and law school to make yourself a better candidate for law jobs than the Oxford degree. Getting some experience working in a law firm in a capacity that doesn't require a law degree would be more valuable. It might not be as intellectually stimulating, but at least it'd be experience that would expose you to the real world of how law is practiced.

I'm not sure if you're asking if your grades are "too bad" to get into a T14 law school or to get into Oxford. They're good enough for T14, contingent on getting a good enough LSAT.

"Save your loans for law school" is exactly right. Law school's expensive enough without effectively adding $50,000 to the price tag.

If you want to spend extra time/money on things that will improve your chances with law schools, do an extra-super-duper-amazing job studying for the LSAT, and retake it if necessary.

And maybe learn Chinese while you're at it. OK, if you think that's unrealistic, how about this: spend those 2 years getting fluent in Spanish. That would definitely be a better asset to your chances of landing a legal job than spending that time getting an Oxford degree.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:38 PM on June 15, 2010

Fully-qualified English solictors can take the New York Bar with no American law degree. However, I don't think that it's any cheaper, or otherwise advantageous, for someoene with a US BA in hand to purse English qualification followed by NY Bar versus a US JD.

Doing it straight out of high school (taking advantage of the undergraduate character of basic legal education in the UK), on the other hand, has always struck m as very clever in principle, although no American I met has ever done that.
posted by MattD at 9:01 PM on June 15, 2010

Will this increase my employability (and if so, where)? [...] Is it not worth the cost?

I assume you saw this thread on the blue a few days ago?
posted by Mike1024 at 12:38 AM on June 16, 2010

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