Graduate law students are a vital group in St Catharine’s community of lawyers. The College welcomes applications from students reading for the taught graduate law degrees – the LLM and the MCL – and students reading for graduate research degrees, especially the PhD. In a normal year the College has around four students reading for the LLM or the MCL, as well as one or two PhD students.
The graduate lawyers become members of the College’s Middle Combination Room (MCR) upon joining the College, and thus join the life of a lively intellectual and social group. The MCR at St Catharine’s holds a high reputation among students throughout Cambridge.
The graduate lawyers also become involved in a full range of law-related activities held in the College. Several of these are formed for both graduate and undergraduates. Activities are organised by the Law Fellows – through the College’s Law Enrichment Programme – and by the students through the St Catharine’s College Law Society. All of the College’s law students and Fellows gather at occasions held at special points in the year, including the annual dinner held by the Law Society. Speakers at recent annual dinners have included Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore (of the UK Supreme Court), Lord Millett (a former Law Lord) and Lord Justice Mummery (formerly of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales).
Each graduate lawyer who reads for a taught degree at St Catharine’s has a Director of Studies in the same way as undergraduates. The Director of Studies and each student meet with one another twice each term to discuss the student’s academic progress and needs. In pastoral matters, each graduate student also has access to the College’s Graduate Tutors.
In recent years, students who have read for graduate degrees in law at St Catharine’s have proceeded to practise at the bar and in firms of solicitors, as well as to work in prestigious academic positions and positions in the civil service and governments of various nations.
Although the College has limited funding specifically available for graduate law students, it is fortunate to hold funds to support the award of Jacobson Scholarships in public or private international law. The fund normally supports one studentship at a time. You can read a testimonial written by one former and one current St Catharine’s graduate lawyer below.
1. Massimo Lando
(current PhD student and Jacobson Scholar)
When I decided to pursue graduate studies after my first law degree, I had no doubts about applying to Cambridge. The college system baffled me a bit in the beginning – I come from an institution where there are no colleges. I consider myself very fortunate to have become part of St Catharine’s College: it is a thriving community, with people studying across all field of academic knowledge. Also, the presence of both undergraduate and graduate students makes it a little bit more varied than graduate colleges – something I personally find interesting and refreshing.
St Catharine’s supported my studies towards the LLM in 2013-2014, by electing me to the Jacobson Scholarship in International Law. After completing my LLM, I decided to pursue further research in Cambridge by commencing a PhD: I decided to apply to St Catharine’s, because I already knew the College – I liked it, and I also knew that there was a good scholarship tailored to my needs, specifically for the study of international law. I was awarded the Jacobson Scholarship a second time, and I have undertaken my research since October 2014. I would recommend that anyone with a research project in International Law apply to the Jacobson.
St Catharine’s houses a blossoming law community, with around 25 to 30 law students in residence at any time. All of them are part of the College Law Society, which organises lectures and social events especially designed for law students. In addition to law students, there are many others who are part of the College community and study different subjects: I find this interaction between subjects very stimulating, as it allows students to think about something different from their day-to-day work.
As graduates in St Catharine’s, you will be automatically part of the MCR (Middle Combination Room), whose committee is very active in organising social events, both within College, and together with other colleges. It may be a formal dinner, or a College disco, or a simple film night, but it will always make you feel part of a wider graduate community, which ends up becoming your substitute family while in Cambridge.
I am very happy to be part of St Catharine’s, and I would not change College if I were given the chance. I would certainly recommend that anyone with good academic potential and with an eye to being part of a nice college community apply to St Catharine’s.
2. Emma Horner
(former LLM student, now undertaking pupillage at the bar in London)
Deciding whether to study for a postgraduate degree in law wasn’t a clear-cut decision for me. I had contemplated whether a Master’s course was necessary to succeed in practice, and the LLM at Cambridge was an obvious front-runner when deciding where to apply. I had hoped the LLM would help me develop what I had learnt during my undergraduate law degree, improve my legal skills and prepare me for legal practice, and it certainly did.
The LLM is a course that allowed me to broaden my legal knowledge and understanding, in preparation for training as a barrister. The LLM gives students the choice: to specialise, or to study a diverse range of legal areas. I chose to specialise in commercial law, studying in-depth modules that have been incredibly useful as a pupil barrister in a commercial chancery set of chambers.
The Fellows in St Catharine’s - Catz - are very aware that many of their students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) intend to practise after their studies, and they were able to provide helpful assistance, passing on their advice during the application process and prior to interviews. The College also has a legal practice scholarship available, the Gooderson Memorial Scholarship, which usefully contributed to fund part of the (expensive) training to become a barrister.
Catz is a very welcoming College, with a lively graduate community. The MCR organises many varied events open to all graduate students, including wine and cheese nights, a Burns Night ceilidh and weekly movie nights. This makes it very easy to meet other graduate students, including those from different academic disciplines, and allowed me to get fully involved in College life. There are also many different sports clubs in the College and university to get involved with, and College sports allowed me to achieve a balance to my academic studies. I made amazing friends during my year at Catz through the MCR and sports clubs, and luckily a few of them are still studying in the College, so I can go back and visit.