Six lucky Long Road students were chosen to attend a lecture on the motion ‘Those Who Wish to Practise Law Should Not Study Law at University’ at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge on 27th February.
Sir Patrick Elias, Lord Justice of Appeal, who chaired the debate, kept order in a packed auditorium. Apart from sixth form students considering studying Law at university, there were current students, distinguished legal practitioners, and academics from law and other disciplines. The motion was defeated by a narrow margin.
Lord Sumption, Justice of the Supreme Court, argued in favour of the motion. His argument focused on the irrelevance of the academic study of Law to the life of the legal practitioner. He considered that students at University would gain more from studying a subject which enabled them to develop skills of relevance to legal practice, and would benefit from a more rounded education which enabled them to engage vicariously with the work of great minds, rather than being cloistered from an early age in the study and practice of law.
Professor Graham Virgo, Downing College, Professor of English Private Law, was against the motion, rejecting the argument that legal practice is just about facts and evidence, and drawing an analogy with medical training. He rejected the implicit assumption of Lord Sumption’s argument that the legal profession is not a learned profession; rather it is one grounded on serious scholarship and intellectual engagement. He emphasised that Law students engage with a variety of other disciplines as part of their studies and also that the study of Law is a mirror to culture. He concluded by saying that, whilst the study of law at university is not the only preparation to become a legal practitioner, it is the best preparation.
Our students found the lecture highly interesting and became very inspired about the issue.
Photo: Long Road students talk to Lord Sumption, Justice of the Supreme Court
Left to right: Afu Acheampong, Leila Bello-Biamonti, Marie Ridgeway, Brogranne Gilmour, Anita Bahri, Keiran Wakley