3 Verulam Buildings Scholarship
3VB Scholar 2020-21 Benjamin Cartwright
College: Harris Manchester College
I studied Law with Hispanic Law at UCL before coming to Oxford. This also involved spending a year studying Spanish Law at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. I graduated in 2020, and spent time working in a legal clinic in London before moving to Oxford for the BCL.
Could you tell us about your journey to Oxford? Why did you choose to study at the Law Faculty?
I really enjoyed the academic study of law during my undergraduate degree: I find legal analysis and debate really interesting. It was this that made me first consider a postgraduate degree before going into practice. Oxford and the BCL stood out to me given their strengths in both doctrinal law and legal theory. I hadn’t studied very much legal theory at all prior to starting the BCL, so I was keen to take up the opportunity. At the same time, I’ve been able to study entirely new areas of law in the doctrinal courses.
What do you hope to achieve whilst studying law in Oxford?
Ultimately, I want to gain a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the law—both as it is, and as it should be. By throwing myself into my four courses, I hope to develop this wider understanding, and become a better lawyer. In particular, I am keen to hone my understanding of the relationship between public and private law, and how they intersect.
What have you found most rewarding about your programme so far?
Without a doubt, the most rewarding thing is the conversation: formally, the style of teaching on the BCL, involving predominantly seminars and tutorials, is a great way to understand and debate the law. It also means that I am pushed to defend my views as fully as possible. At the same time, it is the informal conversation with Faculty members and other students—on legal and non-legal topics—that really makes the BCL stand out. The conversations are always high-level and rigorous, but so too are they enjoyable.
What have you found most challenging about your programme so far?
The intensity of the BCL is well-known: you are studying four courses with intense reading lists, combined with regular seminars and tutorials, so you never run out of things to read or think about. This is a blessing and a curse. Given that the tutors really care about their subjects, you know that everything you are set to read has value (and often is a pleasure to read), the problem is getting through it all!
Are you involved with or joined any projects or societies?
I am an associate editor for the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal (OUCLJ). I have also been elected as Barista-in-Chief of the Harris Manchester MCR—as far as we are aware, we are the only college to have an in-house barista!
How has the scholarship benefitted your studies and professional development?
Without the funding, I would have been unable to pursue the BCL, so I’ve benefitted enormously from it. Professionally, it has enabled me to take courses that will be useful in legal practice, such as Commercial Remedies and Human Rights at Work.
Through the generosity of commercial chambers 3 Verulam Buildings, this scholarship is worth £10,000 and is awarded annually to students embarking on the BCL, MJur or one year research degree (including one year of the DPhil). Available to UK , EU, and overseas students alike, this scholarship is for students with an interest in proceeding to the bar.