Oriel graduate sues law school

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A jurispudence graduate from Oriel College is suing OXLIP, an Oxford based law college, for £100,000, after she failed to qualify as a solicitor at the end of her course.

Miss Abramova, who graduated from Oriel in 2004 with a 2:1, began a legal practitioner’s course at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice (OXILP), aiming to become a solicitor.

Abramova alleges that OXILP had not adequately prepared her for the exams, and that their “clearly negligent” tuition resulted in her failure to qualify as a solicitor, and subsequent failure to pass the New York Bar Exam.

“I recently decided not to retake that examination,” Abramova told the Court.

She added, “This is because I have found it psychologically difficult to take legal examinations following my experiences on the Course and subsequently, at OXILP”.

Abramova’s barrister, Oliver Hyams, told the court that the law college failed Ms Abramova by only providing “tuition in examination techniques” after she had already failed her first set of tests in May 2005.

A spokesman for OXILP said, “At all times since 2004, the year Maria began her course, [her work] has consistently been graded ‘very good’ or as is the case now ‘commendable’ – the top grade.”

The spokesperson added that of the 357 other students who studied who studied at the Oxford Law School in the same year as Abramova, more than 99% went on to pass the paper over which Abramova is suing.

Josephine Lyall, who is currently studying on the LPS course, said, “You’re not examined on anything you’re not actively taught…[the tutors] tell you everything you need to know”.

Lyall said her previous studies of Classics, at St Hilda’s College, were “much more demanding”. She described her current legal course as “much more programmed”, and added that it is “a lot easier [than Oxford]– you don’t really need to think about it too much”.

Abramova’s decision to sue her Law College after failing to pass her exams has prompted wider concerns that the raise in tuition fees for higher education will usher in a new “consumer culture” among students.

The fees in 2005 for the OXILP course were £8,195 for both home and international students.

OUSU President David Barclay told Cherwell, “This case is a clear signal of how a consumer culture will affect universities.

“As students take an increasingly large financial stake in their studies, expectations of course quality and student experience will undoubtedly go up.

“Oxford University needs to invest now in the mechanisms that will take these expectations into account.

“We need to give students the opportunity to solve their own problems, otherwise this will not be the last time we see [establishments] in court.”

OXILP was established jointly by the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes in 1993. It became a fully integrated part of Oxford Brookes within the School of Social Sciences and Law in 2008.

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