Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Oxford Law Interview

Difficulty: 0

Im Leslie Im a 3rd year law student at Oxford and Im here to give you an idea

of what to expect at Oxford interviews.

This is an example of a case study you might get. You are given 30 minutes to read the

case and then you have to talk about the case during the interview. So 30 minutes might

seem like a long time its actually quite short because the details of the case will

actually be much longer than this. So Im not sure if you guys can read the text because

the font is a bit small but in this case a mother promised her daughter to pay her daughter

$200 a month if she gave up her job in the US and went to London to study for the bar

to qualify as a lawyer.

The daughter was reluctant to do so at first because she had a well paying job with the

embassy in Washington and she was quite happy and settled. But the mother persuaded her

that it would be in her best interest to do so. So the mother agreed to pay her a certain

sum of money as maintenance while she was studying because she was not going to be getting

salary. Eventually the mother agreed to purchase a house for the daughter to live in. So she

did. Then the daughter rented out the spare rooms and got an income and used that as maintenance.

Eventually after a few years the daughter got married and she did not complete her studies

which pissed the mother off and she sought the possession of the house so she sued her

daughter basically.

The question for the court was whether there existed a legally binding contract between

the mother and daughter or whether the agreement was only a family agreement and was not intended

to be binding. So to begin with you might be asked open questions like what do you think

about this case? You might want to argue for the daughter or the mother and you dont

have to use legal knowledge (you are not expected to have any; its good to have some of course).

So for instance it would be good if you could argue from principle. So in this case you

might be tempted to say that there was no contract because none was drawn up and signed

formally, so you think the mother should win. But in fact, a contract does not have to be

a written document and signed by the parties; it could be oral and just as binding on the


So that wouldnt be a very good argument. Temptation to argue from a legal point of

view should be avoided because the chances are you will be wrong unless you know the

law very well in this area. What can you say then? If you argue from principle, you might

for instance say that well there should be no contract in this case because it was in

context of a family agreement and if courts were to find binding contracts in all statements

made by family members, you make everyday life very inconvenient because like if you

promise your family member you will visit him tomorrow and you didnt you might potentially

face a law suit right? So you will make life very inconvenient and invite a lot more potential

law suits. So regardless of what the law stands on this is, you are saying that in principle,

the law should not recognize this as a binding contract in this case. So if you say that

you have to be prepared for a follow up question such as... so in this case you say well I

mean the mother bought the house right. Because it was in the context of a family agreement,

the daughter studying for the bar and the mother just promised to give her house but

if she decides to take it away after a period of a few years especially because the daughter

terminated her studies, then it seems fair that the mother should be able to get back

her house right? But what if the mother were to terminate immediately after the daughter

relocated to London to study for the bar? Wouldnt it seem very unfair to the daughter

to have no legal redress whatsoever after she quit her well paying job and then she

made the move to London which obviously took up a lot of her time and resources. If you

then say that if the daughter were immediately to move to London and the mother were to immediately

terminate her maintenance, there should be legal redress for her.

Then what would the difference be, in principle, if the mother terminates it after a few years?

Whats the reason behind it? Is the reason because you feel that the daughter terminated

her studies therefore she is no longer keeping up her end of the bargain: therefore, the

mother doesnt have to keep up her end of the bargain. Is this what you think the law

should look like? For example, if you promise someone a sum of money to paint your house

and then the person paints your house but doesnt quite paint it to be the way you

want it to look like and you go like oh Im not paying you any money because this is not

what I actually really wanted.

So you have to be prepared for questions like this and I think an important thing to note

as well is that you have to be prepared to refute your own arguments because you have

to be prepared to argue for both sides. As a lawyer, that is one skill that you have

to acquire. So if you strongly feel for one side and you present very convincing arguments

(this was what happened in my interview; I argued for the mother initially and the interviewer

just saidImagine you are acting for the daughter right now. How would you argue then?’

You have to refute all the points that you just gave which is always not an easy thing

to do. So you have to be prepared for that.

Then there are other questions that interviewers might ask which might test your ability to

think on the spot and your ability to grasp new concepts. For instance, in this case itself,

it was said in the case (this is not the actual case study that will be given; it will be

much longer and much more detailed) but anyway there was this sentence that says there is

no doubt that the daughter gave consideration for a promise by her mother to provide maintenance.

The interviewer might askSo consideration in this context has a legal meaning. What

do you think it means?’ If you know what it means, thats great. If you dont,

then you have to come up with something that makes sense. If you are wrong, its ok because

you are not expected to have any legal knowledge but the interviewer will teach you on a spot

what it means and then it will be about your ability to grasp new legal concept quickly.

I think thats what interviewers might be looking out for.

This is an example of a kind of case you might get and kind of arguments you might have to

make. If you like more information about things like this, you might want to visit us at

The link is in the description below. Thats all thanks.

The Description of Oxford Law Interview