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Blogger is first Open University student to bag Harvard Law School scholarship

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From the heights of Legal Cheek to slumming it in the Ivy League

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A Legal Cheek blogger has become the first Open University student to be awarded the prestigious Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard law school.

Amy Woolfson — who received a first class law degree at the OU in 2013 — worked as an MP’s researcher, drafting speeches, preparing for debates and supporting constituents. She has also been an occasional contributor to Legal Cheek.

Woolfson is now off to the Boston-based cream of Ivy League law schools to do an LLM. The Kennedy Memorial Trust — launched in response to President John Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 — has awarded her a full scholarship to cover all fees.

And that’s by no means peanuts. Students might well moan about the cost of top-tier legal education on this side of the pond, but the Harvard LLM’s fees alone currently stand at a rather precise $82,123 (approximately £52,600).

After completing her stint at Barak Obama’s alma mater, Woolfson intends to return to Blighty to chance her arm at the bar.

The scholarships — which go to British students — are billed as “the UK’s living memorial to Kennedy.

The trustees insist that candidates must be able to display intellectual attainment as well as polished communication skills. Scholars must also have an “originality of mind, commitment to public service, the potential to make a mark in public life and the ability to overcome adversity”.

Commented Annie Thomas of the Kennedy Memorial Trust:

Amy stood out for the trustees because, as well as having a first class degree, she had been a leader and participant in the wider life of the Open University Law School. At interview, she was articulate; highly motivated to see that the law works for the vulnerable and marginalised; and she had a clear vision of the skills a Harvard LLM would give her.

Current student body figures from Harvard show that 99% doing the LLM are from abroad and 51% are women.

19 Comments

Anonymous

Best of British

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Amazing achievement, Open University is so difficult

(34)(4)

Anonymous

Congrats!

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Really good to see. Well done Amy!

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Meh, LLM’s okay. JD is another thing entirely.

(5)(22)

Anonymous

Although it doesn’t make much sense to compare their difficulty and stature, the LLB is equivalent to the JD in the sense that it is the basic academic qualification required to pursue a legal career in Europe. This scholar already has an LLB and pursuing a JD would make no sense if she intends to practice law in the UK. The LLM is designed to allow LLB/JD graduates to pursue specific areas of law according to their professional interests.

(23)(3)

Anonymous

All well and good, but the point isn’t whether she’s applied for the right course. It’s whether it’s newsworthy.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

A £56k Harvard scholarship to a (British) Open Uni student is definitely legal cheek newsworthy.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

The OU is extremely difficult and to get a first shows what a hard working and motivated person she is. It’s nice to see that pay off! Well done 🙂

(25)(2)

Anonymous

Welcome, Ms. Woolfson.

(4)(4)

Mr Pineapples

Wonderful story – OU degree – is hard work – and to get a First is one keck of an achievement

Proud to be a Brit

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Barak? Really?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

According to the notoriously reliable Wikipedia, Obama graduated from Harvard in 1991. Do you have reason to believe different?

(3)(5)

Anonymous

I think our anonymous contributor took issue with the spelling.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Aha, good point anon#3. I (anon #2) failed to spot that in anon#1’s comment.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Plenty of recognition here that the OU is a difficult degree path… Why so underrepresented at the bar though?

(1)(0)

OU Grad

Unfortunately there is still a widespread preconception that the OU is for housewives and retired people who want to an intellectual challenge as their hobby rather than people who see it as a serious career step. This is, of course, not the case but the prejudice still lingers. It is true that a lot of people sign up to OU courses without the intention of using it for their career but there are a lot of people who take it deadly serious. Once a member of chambers was reported to have said that he thought the Open University was the same as the “university of life”, rather than an actual institution!

It is a shame how few OU people to make it to the bar and I would say that in past years there was little evidence of the OU themselves encouraging students to take this route, with most career events geared towards the LPC path. Things are changing though, and many more OU students are seriously interested in a career at the Bar. For years, there was a complete drought of any OU LLB grad getting pupillage but the rains have finally arrived. I know of at least two that are starting pupillage this year and I have seen many promising students in whom I have every confidence of making it. I know these numbers are still small beer but considering it was practically zero (as far as I am aware) in the preceding 7 or 8 years, you have to start from somewhere and so as a percentage growth it is significant.

Note: In the above stats, I am not counting people who have done OU non-law degrees followed by a GDL elsewhere, I mean actual products of the OU Law School.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

I did my LLM at Harvard a few years ago and it is a truly unique and mind-broadening place to study – you are going to have the time of your life! All the best!

(5)(1)

Mick Farrell

I benefitted from Amy and her colleagues generosity and talent supporting Mooting training and competitions via the OU Law Society in 2014, so well deserved. She’s also legated a thriving society over to her Lead successor Abi Scott, with some very credible achievements in 2014/2015 by my fellow mooters at the time.
Good luck Amy!

(1)(0)

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