A Year at Cambridge - Alec Cunningham

Alec is receiving a Bursary from the Association. He writes to tell us about his first year at Cambridge.

So I have finally completed my first year at Cambridge University studying Law, ending up with a 2:1 overall.


Alec Cunningham

Having convinced myself that I had failed my exams I was stunned when I got my results, my brain taking a while to actually process that I would be allowed to return next year and would not be 'sent down' as the University so comfortingly calls being expelled.

That is another thing - aside from adapting to the sheer volume of work, getting used to Cambridge vernacular is a tricky business.


Alec and friend Suzanna Eames celebrate the end of term.

Of course I now say it without thinking, my friends from home giving me blank looks as I talk to them about Bumps (the biannual inter-collegiate rowing race), the plodge (porters lodge), bedders (cleaning staff), the paddock (a large area of grass in Downing College for recreational use), Cindy's (a club that technically doesn't exist, having been renamed over 15 years ago), Cuppers (inter-collegiate Cup competitions for various sports), my DoS (Director of Studies), Ents (organised events often requiring fancy dress), swaps (where a society from one college meets up with a society from a different college), May Week (a week of college balls and garden parties held confusingly in June), Suicide Sunday (the Sunday on which May Week begins), and Cesarean Sunday (a more recent tradition of meeting on Jesus Green on a particular Sunday prior to exams).

It is strange to think that I will be teaching all of this to the fresh-faced undergrads starting next year.

Stranger still is the possibility that in two years I will be looking for a job in the real world outside of the Cambridge bubble.

I am fairly sure that I want to pursue a career in law, but am uncertain as to what type of law exactly. The majority of Law students go on to work as solicitors for big city law firms, with some instead opting to pursue a career as a barrister arguing in the courts - a much more competitive route with a lower job security although if you are looking for big money then being a top barrister is the way to go.

Having studied Tort Law, Roman Law, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Law this year I found that the latter two were by far my preferred topics but I have never felt a burning desire to pursue either as a career.

Prior to applying to University I organized forms of work experience with the solicitor firms K & L Gates LLP and Lawrence Graham LLP in London, an experience which I greatly enjoyed.

It is also customary for those in the second year to apply for 'Vacation Schemes' at law firms in order to better appreciate what solicitors do on a day to day basis - hopefully this will help me make up my mind.

All in all my first year at Cambridge has been fantastic and I hope that I have made the best of both the academic and social opportunities.

My DoS even said to me that if I knuckle down next year I can push for a first - let's hope I prove him right!

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