Can an Oxbridge law degree put you off becoming a lawyer?

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By Legal Cheek on

Earlier this week a leaked email revealed that law students were the worst performers at an Oxford University college. Given the more challenging nature of a law degree relative to most arts degrees, perhaps this should come as no surprise. But it does beg the question whether studying law in the high-pressure surroundings of Oxford or Cambridge is such a great idea.

We asked this week’s podcast guest, recent Oxford University law graduate Maleha Khan (pictured below with Legal Cheek‘s Kevin Poulter), for her thoughts on the matter…


Like the majority of law students in her year at Oxford’s Wadham College — only three out of nine have become lawyers — Khan has decided against pursuing a legal career for the time being.

“You are made very aware of your abilities and limitations at Oxford,” she says, adding that the experience knocked her confidence in some ways, despite it being “a really good start”.

Her words echo the sentiment expressed by journalist Malcolm Gladwell in his recent book David and Goliath, where he argues that being a little fish in a big and intimidating Ivy League pond is far from ideal grounding. Instead, Gladwell recommends that all but the very best students opt for universities outside the elite tier.

Or, for wannabe lawyers, perhaps the trick is to study a less-demanding subject at a top university and then convert to law at a later stage. This route, says Khan, has worked for some of the Oxford classics students she knows, a higher proportion of whom have gone on to become lawyers than her law student friends.

Listen to Khan’s discussion with Kevin Poulter and Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge in the podcast below.

This podcast is also available on iTunes.