Considering the LLM? Consider studying in the US

1 October 2015

Amy Woolfson

                                                                 Amy Woolfson

Amy Woolfson guest blogs for the Bar Council on how she became the first Open University graduate to be awarded a Kennedy Scholarship and attend Harvard Law School and why aspiring barristers should consider studying in the US.

After completing my LLB, I felt like I still had a lot to learn about the law, and work to do on my CV before applying for pupillage.  I was pretty sure that the BPTC wasn't the place to achieve either objective.  So I started to investigate LLM programmes.  There are clearly some great offerings in the UK, but someone suggested the US to me and I was intrigued. 

My perception was that study in the US would be phenomenally expensive and therefore out of my reach.  But then I learned about the various scholarships on offer - Fulbright, Thouron, Kennedy and Knox, some of which pay your full fees and accommodationandprovide a living allowance.  I figured that the best I could hope for in the UK would be to get my fees paid - which would have probably meant getting a loan to cover living expenses and/or continuing to work.  Having studied my undergraduate degree part-time, I was determined to have a traditional full-time university experience for my LLM.

With the support of my boss, my university and a mentor from the Association of Women Barristers (thanks all!), I began to put an application together.  I was very pleasantly surprised when I was invited to an interview in early January.  When I realised I would be interviewed by all nine of the Kenedy Memorial Trust trustees, my pleasant surprise turned into terror.  But I got through it and they offered a scholarship.  Then, to my even greater surprise and delight I got in to Harvard too!  I've since found out that I'm the first Open University graduate to be awarded a Kennedy Scholarship, or to attend Harvard Law School.

I simply cannot recommend Harvard Law School or the Kennedy Scholarship highly enough.  My classes started just two weeks ago but I'm already learning so much.  And I'm learning as much from my fellow LLMs as from the incredible faculty.  Of the 181 students on the LLM programme, there are 16 Supreme Court or Constitutional Court Clerks (for courts in Australia, Israel, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and the United Kingdom).  Students come from 69 different jurisdictions which makes for an incredible diversity of professional and life experience as well as opinion. I have no doubt that I will be a much more interesting (and happy!) candidate when I apply for pupillage next year.  Plus I will have new friends all around the world.

If any aspiring barristers are thinking of studying in the US I'd be very happy to chat with them and offer any advice I can about the application process.  I'm particularly keen to hear from people who have studied at the Open University or have had some other non-traditional route to the law. 

The deadline for applying for a Kennedy Scholarship is 28 October 2015.  You can contact me by emailing


Amy Woolfson


Amy Woolfson is a LLM candidate at Harvard Law School. She is a recipient of a Kennedy Scholarship, the UK's living memorial to President John F Kennedy.  She completed her undergraduate law degree with the Open University.  She plans to apply for pupillage in 2016.