Law LLB Personal Statement
Submitted by Kofo
"Black Lives Matter" has played a major role in my pursuit of the study of law. We grow believing that we're all equal and the law is meant to ensure that we are all treated accordingly. But, when I started exploring race relations in America, I began to realise that the rule of law is not always applied fairly or can be interpreted to the detriment of certain sections of the population. Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and Terence Crutcher are just a few of the many African Americans killed by those whose job is to "protect and serve".
In the UK we see parallels in the treatment of other races. According to the Institute of Race Relations, police are 28 times more likely to enforce "stop and search" on a black man than a white man. As a British Nigerian these statistics concern me as they add to the belief that black people are to be feared. If the rule of law is meant to assure that law is applicable to all, why in the 21st century do we not see this as the case? This is one of the questions that draw me to having an understanding of law. Tom Bingham quotes Aristotle in his book, "The Rule of Law" when he states that it's better for the law to rule than one citizen so even the guardians of the law must obey it.
However, when attending an International Dispute Settlement course at Oxford University, I began to explore cases where cannot be applied. I learnt about the use of diplomacy in dispute settlement, such as the use of arbitration between China and Philippines in the South China Sea dispute. But, diplomacy methods are non-binding meaning agreements don't necessarily have to be followed. It's clear that the law is being used to try and settle a dispute but if the conclusion does not have to be followed then was the use of diplomacy actually effective? This reminded me of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the fact that they try to settle trade disputes, knowing that there's little way of holding strong economies accountable if they ignore WTO decisions. Studying economics has helped me understand the critical importance of law. For example, development economist, Hernando De Soto, in "The Mystery of Capital", argues that the best way to promote growth in developing countries is to improve the system of property rights. Through this, entrepreneurs are able to raise money against their assets which can be invested to create wealth.
Studying English literature has also helped me understand the ambiguity of language and how this can be manipulated in law. An example from my history studies would be British involvement in Palestine in 1916/17 where the British had promised greater degrees of independence to the Arabs but did not specify where. There's also ambiguity in the term "national home of Palestine" as the British did not specify to whom this "home" belonged to, allowing them to form Jewish states in Palestine. History has made me appreciate that it is not just the current legal structure but also previous laws that shape present day society as this conflict over Palestine has been significant from 1916 until today. I want to consider all the options I'd have with a law degree, so I took part in a two-day Discovery Days programme at the investment bank BNP Paribas.
I shadowed a lawyer who was involved in compiling information about countries that were selling government bonds. The lawyers' role was to assess the strength of the legal system and the level of corruption because this has implications for the value of gilts issued by central banks. The impact of legal decisions seep into every part of our society. As a young black woman I've grown up believing I should equip myself with an understanding of law and live knowing that I have the right be to treated on an equal level to all my colleagues. I was once told that there would be times when I would need to work harder than others to achieve the same goals, so my aim through my studies is to have a better understanding of how law represents us as individuals.