From the 26th to the 29th of March, more than 140 Year 12 students from all over the country flocked to the University city of Cambridge in order to attend a Law School Conference hosted by the University and its various colleges. During their visit, the students stayed in University accommodation, attended lectures in the Law faculty’s lecture theatre and were given workshops by prominent city law firms. In addition, the students experienced first-hand what it would be like to study Law at the University of Cambridge as they attended a serious debate and a mock murder trial in The Cambridge Union. All of the students involved possessed a degree of interest in the law and, for many, this interest was only deepened by the Conference (or Conf as it was affectionately called).

As a part of the experience of the University’s accommodation, the Sixth Forms students ate in their colleges and this enabled the students to get a literal taste of the University as well as individual colleges. The sleeping arrangements varied college to college (as they do for the real undergraduates attending the university), some colleges, such as Magdalene College, gave their ‘Conference Delegates’ their own bathroom, whilst others did not, and their delegates had to rely instead on shared conveniences.

The Law Faculty (David Williams Building), a gigantic glass building dominating the centre of the Sidgwick Site, was the forward operating base for the conference and it was here where the students attended law lectures given by prominent university lecturers such as Graham Virgo, Catherine Barnard and Dr Jens Scherpe. Each gave a small 30-minute lecture on their chosen specialisation in law, and each was entertaining, entrancing and enticing.

Following the talks given by the lecturers, many delegates streamed outside to have their copies of the book What About Law signed by authors Janet O’Sullivan and Graham Virgo, showing the effect that the lecturers were able to have on the delegates, inducing so many to buy the boom.

Following the lectures, the delegates were put into workshops. One such workshop, run by the international law firm Hogan Lovell, gave the delegates an exercise in which they must negotiate with each other in order to give their ‘client’ (a made-up company detailed on a piece of paper) the best possible deal surrounding the leasing of five Lear jets. Each ‘negotiating team’ was given a piece of paper detailing their clients and their clients’ key demands. After fifteen minutes’ planning for the negotiations, the groups were pitted against one another in a phase that they were told would seem quicker than it was – thirty minutes. It was. One delegate described the experience as being “exhilarating, so much fun and really made me consider the profession of soliciting. The two solicitors we had from Hogan Lovells were really good too, both were interesting and charismatic, which isn’t really what you normally picture if you imagine a solicitor”.

During the evenings, the delegates were invited to The Union Debating Society to attend, on the first night, a debate on whether Assisted Suicide should be considered a crime and, on the second night, a mock trial presided over by Professor Graham Virgo as judge, with members of the Conference Committee making up the defendant and witness. Two barristers (ex-alumni) were called up to London to fulfil the roles of prosecution and defence.

All in all, the conference was an amazing experience for all and gave all the delegates a true taste of just how it would be to study the Law at Cambridge University. I am sure that many of the now ex-delegates will be more than enthusiastic to submit their own applications to study law at Cambridge University as a direct result of this conference.

Callum Caldwell, Heathfield Community College