Mr Simon Baughen One of Bristol’s very own shares his views on education, careers and the law
The Virtue of the
Immoral Law Around the World in One Academic Year
Importance of the Voice in the Courtroom
Boost Your Resumé
A complete guide on all of the law school’s extra-curricular activities
Defence of the Legal Profession In
Dicta follows its correspondents to exotic locations on their year abroad
Spotlight on the first ever
Bristol Law Conference
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Notes from the Editors Nicole Wong Editor-in-Chief Unlike medical students, with whom we are always lumped together for some unknown reason, law students have the unique displeasure of constantly having to defend our decision to enter our chosen field. So this issue’s theme is exactly that: a defence of the legal profession. 46 writers from the law school have put together 84 pages of articles detailing exactly why we choose to do what we do. So the next time someone asks you ‘why do you want to be a lawyer?’ in that all-too-familiar, slightly disapproving tone, you’ll know exactly what to say! This year, we also decided to take the magazine in a slightly different direction. We wanted to give all students, incoming and outgoing, a little slice of Bristol. We’ve included interviews with staff, articles written by alumni, and pieces highlighting the unique law school experience - a celebration of this wonderful university and all it has to offer. Of course, I cannot go without thanking my incredible editorial team. Special thanks to my Managing Editor Jack who spent countless hours and sleepless nights frantically putting this magazine together with me. I honestly could not have asked for a more brilliant, talented or enthusiastic group of students to work with. This experience has been nothing short of amazing. I hope you enjoy this magazine as much as I have.
Helen Peden Senior Editor Dicta is a unique opportunity for law students to expand their academic writings into the sphere of legal journalism. In light of the current economic climate and upcoming reform by the Coalition government, such journalism has never been more important; encouraging proper scrutiny of our ever-changing socio-legal landscape. It is through these trends that legal journalism can continue to flourish at the University of Bristol Law School, spearheaded by the on-going publication of this magazine. This year’s theme is particularly significant as it gives us a chance to defend our various fields of interest against the wide ranging criticisms which are so often levelled at the legal discipline. It has been a highlight of my second year at Bristol to edit a sample of these intellectual – and often controversial – works. From Legal Aid cuts to Apple v Samsung, the articles which I edited were many and varied, and I must thank their authors for both their stellar contribution to this publication and their patient cooperation with me. For those of you who read this magazine with interest and inspiration; I urge you to follow in their footsteps and have your say next year.
Jack Moulder Managing Editor On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be--as here they are--mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities...making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might.
Dickens’ infamous assault upon the integrity of the law stands today as potent as ever. The last twelve months have proven testing for the legal profession: trivialised by celebrity superinjunctions, embarrassed by corporate scandal, endangered by austerity and vindicated by...whom? The theme for this year’s issue of Dicta purports to answer the call for a defence of the law, spanning the breadth of the field from jurisprudence to the judiciary. My involvement with this publication has been as humbling as it has been rewarding. I extend my gratitude to our authors as well as my fellow editors, the quality of whose contributions and the extent of whose drive has been nothing short of inspirational. Gratitude is due also to the University of Bristol Law Club, without which this publication--and many of the activities which contribute to its subject matter--would not be possible.
Turan Hursit Senior Editor Hello all, and welcome freshers! Hopefully this year’s edition of Dicta will give you an idea about what to expect from Law School and provide inspiration for all of that legal thinking you’re going to do over the next three or four years. Law students at Bristol may study in either Europe or the Far East during their third year. This year I was responsible for Dicta Goes Global, which aims to showcase students’ year abroad experiences. Having just returned from a year in France, I am keen to expose the wonders of foreign study and encourage its pursuit. The section starts with a journey across the world – from Germany to Hong Kong – with insights relating to cuisine, cultural differences, and the foreign legal systems. This culminates in a spotlight focus on France – the country welcoming the largest number of Law students from Bristol. As well as articles relating to students’ observations and experiences, there are also two accounts of a typical day in France. I hope that readers will enjoy reading about students’ exciting journeys across the globe and feel inspired to choose to study abroad if they haven’t already done so.
Solomon Chiu Senior Editor It has been a privilege soldiering on with the editorial team on assembling this issue of Dicta, ‘In Defence of the Legal Profession.’ What I relish most in serving as Editor is the opportunity to co-shape Dicta into a synergistic hub of student-led ideas. This issue is a symposium of Bristolian workmanship. From light-hearted pieces by students to biographical sketches of professors, we seek to capture a genuine glimpse of Bristol and its imaginative reserves. Special thanks to Mr Simon Baughen and Dr Devyani Prabhat for investing the time and effort to help create our Biographical Sketches. In this joint endeavour, we seek to cultivate a growing sense of collegiality amongst students and staff. Currently, I am pursuing an M.A. in Law with a focus on Corporate Governance. In the long run, I seek to advise on Mergers & Acquisitions, to promote Higher Education with UNESCO, and to serve as a professional Christian author. I maintain a blog titled, ‘The Lord’s Advocate’ (http://solomonchiu.com) as an initiative to promote moral values in the legal profession. Ultimately, I see the pursuit of legal acumen as a sharpener of critical faculties. DICTA
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Law School Advice How to Get the Most Out of Law School p.10 Editor-in-Chief Nicole Wong and Managing Editor Jack Moulder give their advice on capitalising on law student opportunities. Visiting Bristol p.12 Dicta offers a list of free attractions around Bristol you can bring visiting friends and family to without having to break the bank. The Elusive 72 p.14 Clement Fung imparts some strategies on writing research essays of a ‘first’ calibre. Boost Your Resumé p.16 Dicta provides a one-stop guide to all you need to know about the law’s school extra-curricular activities The Lawyer’s Guide to Bristol p.19 Bristol law students and staff share their favourite spots around the city. Cheap Eats p.22 Dicta presents a list of restaurants with set menus under £15 for the days you feel like eating real food. Words of Wisdom p.24 Bristol Alumnus and A&O trainee solicitor Leen Zaza reflects on her time at university and her endeavours since.
Features In Defence of the Legal Profession p.6 Bristol Alumnus and Lincoln’s Inn Scholar Adam Farhadian Griffiths takes a historical perspective in defending the legal profession. Remembering Dworkin p.7 Spencer Turner contemplates the life and career of the most influential legal philosopher of our generation. A Brief History of the Law p.26 Qing Wu examines at the triumphs of the law while Rebecca Atkinson highlights the failures. Apple v. Samsung p.28 Demi Pham explores the potential impact of the recent Apple litigation on the information technology industry.
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Why Lawyers Shouldn’t be Above the Profit Motive p.41 Sahar Shah seeks to defend the view of law as business and to reconcile it with its moral foundation. In Defence of Defence Lawyers p.42 Alexander Chau argues that, in defending heinous criminals, lawyers are enforcing the legal process. Have Your Say p.45 Jan Zeber evaluates the rise of activist shareholders and the extent to which City law firms should get involved. Legal Aid in Austerity Britain p.47 Jon Walters investigates the issues surrounding legal aid cuts and their impact on the British legal system. A Moral Blow to the English Legal System p.48 Emma Vincent Miller appraises
access to justice in the face of austerity. Law and Morality p.58 Alexander Chau contends that the law serves as a unifying force, whilst morality splits a nation into pieces. Hands off the Courts p.60 Jan Zeber explores the recent controversy surrounding the tense relationship between Parliament and the Courts. Law and National Sovereignty p.62 Samuel Pang examines state power relations with reference to the Libertad incident. A Visit to Various Legal Landmarks p.73 Monica Gao depicts her legal journey through snapshots of reflection in this photo essay.
Careers How to Have an Ethical Legal Career p.30 Tim Manley underscores personal responsibility in the search for an ethical career in law. Becoming a Barrister p.32 Eloise Pollard considers the benefits and means of pursuing a career at the Bar as opposed to one in the City. Work Experience Reflections p.34 Clement Fung provides some insight into his experience during his mini-pupillage and Tamara Mackay offers a glimpse into her assessment day. “Aren’t You Just a Perpetual Law Student?” p.36 Aaron Khan details the life of a young academic and the art of career selection. »
The Power of the Voice in the Court Room p.38 Debbie Chatting emphasises the significance of the voice as a tool for advocates and the rewards of vocal training. Career Event Highlights p.40 Dicta looks back on this year’s Champagne & Chocolate Social and the first ever Careers Dinner.
Legal Education A Biographical Sketch of Mr Simon Baughen p.50 Mr Baughen addresses how lawyers can make an ethical contribution to environmental protection against multinational corporations. A Legal Education and its Place in Modern Society p.52 Ioannis Milkroulis promotes the value of legal scholarship. In Defence of Jurisprudence p.54 Matthew Birchall advocates an active approach to the study of legal philosophy. Law Schools in the UK p.55 Estelle Kadjo critiques the practicality of using league tables in selecting a university. A Biographical Sketch of Dr Devyani Prabhat p.56 Dr Prabhat elucidates the opportunities to defend human rights from a multi-jurisdictional, lawyer-turned-academic perspective.
ject case-workers within the criminal justice process today. Hogan Lovells Spring Ball p.74 Eloise Pollard shares the Spring Ball committee’s experience of hosting the social event of the year.
UBLC Committee Letter from the President p.76 President Jenny Cook reflects on her time at the helm of the UBLC. Herbert Smith Freehills Mooting Competition p.77 Master of the Moot Zach Tan revisits the 2013 mooting competition. Hunt Cup Debating Competition p.78 Chair of Debate Hannah Larsen recounts the progression of this year’s Hunt Cup. Socials p.79 Social Secretary Sarah Bratton looks back over an exciting year of UBLC events. Freshers’ Trip p.81 First Year Rep Pouyan Maleki-Dizaji reminisces over his experiences on this year’s Freshers’ Trip to Brighton. Law Sports p.82 Male Sports Rep Josh Carruthers celebrates a year of sporting victories for the UBLC.
DICTA Nicole Wong Editor-in-Chief
Managing Editor Jack Moulder Senior Editors Helen Peden, Turan Hursit, Solomon Chiu (In alphabetical order) Guest Contributors Simon Baughen, Debbie Chatting, Adam Farhadian Griffiths, Aaron Khan, Devyani Prabhat, Leen Zaza Content Contributors Rebecca Atkinson, Ross Burrell, Matthew Birchall, Alexander Chau, Ciara Corrigan, Clement Fung, Monica Gao, Steven Hunter, Estelle Kadjo, Tamara Mackay, Tim Manley, Ioannis Mikroulis, Samuel Pang, Demi Pham, Eloise Pollard, Sahar Shah, Spencer Turner, Jon Walters, Qing Wu, Emma Vincent Miller, Jan Zeber Study Abroad Contributors Sara Charteris-Black, Lorna Clark, Nicholas Cullinan, Eleanor Healy-Birt, Rebecca Huddart, Elle Outram, Wallis Rushforth, Yasin Sridhar UBLC Committee Contributors Sarah Bratton, Josh Carruthers, Jenny Cook, Hannah Larsen, Pouyan Maleki-Dizaji, Zachary Tan Magazine Layout Design: Nicole Wong & Jack Moulder Theme: Sahar Shah
©UBLC 2013. All rights reserved. Layout and design of this publication remain the property of Nicole Wong and Jack Moulder. The views expressed herein are each credited author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, the Senior Editors, the University of Bristol Law Club, the University of Bristol Law School, the University of Bristol, their respective staff or members.
Study Abroad Around The World in One Academic Year p.64 A quick whizz around the world gives us an insight into the lives of law students studying in Europe and Asia. Destination France p.68 Five croissant-loving students recall their experiences of French culture and civil law.
In the Spotlight Bristol Law Conference p.8 Steven Hunter and Ross Burrell recount the speeches made by the high-profile panel of speakers at the first ever student-led law conference. Bristol Innocence Project p.25 Ciara Corrigan explains the valuable role played by Innocence ProDICTA
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D Alumni Reflections
Defence of the Legal Profession
Adam Farhadian Griffiths defends the legal profession from a graduate perspective.
octors are known for two things: terrible handwriting and almost universal hypochondria. The former is timelessly inexplicable but I suspect the latter is a result of the unique position physicians hold: spending every day looking at, reading about and generally being exposed to illness. Lawyers, on the other hand, have remained – at least in this jurisdiction – without universal reputation. Before we succumb to the American branding perceptions of greed, ruthlessness and a lack of scruples, I propose, in this short monograph, to assign a reputation to the British lawyer. Just as the doctor is exposed to illness, lawyers are exposed to legal problems. Just as the doctor constantly fears for his own health, so the lawyer fears for his legal status. In consequence, lawyers – at least in this jurisdiction – are some of the most careful, trustworthy and honest members of British society. These are attributes the profession must strive hard to maintain in this period of uncertainty, lest we all gain the standing of Norman Barry Cass in Lipkin Gorman. Macclesfield and the Kings The once eminent lawyer Lord Macclesfield could sadly be described as a villain. After considerable service to King George I (including the writing and delivery of the King’s speech, owing to King George’s linguistic inadequacies) he became the King’s most trusted advisor and as such was appointed Lord Chancellor. Having taken his seat next to the King, Macclesfield LC pursued a less legitimate course of action: extracting every last penny he could from the courts’ and the Lord Chancellor’s coffers, amassing in the region of £10,000,000 by today’s standards. The inevitable gambling addiction and general good time had by Macclesfield LC was met by impeachment and trial in the House of Lords, followed swiftly after by imprisonment in the Tower of London. The above neatly demonstrates the contempt with which legal peers (in both senses of the word) judge each others’ conduct but perhaps still more fascinating is the reaction of the successive Lord Chancellor: Peter King. On coming to office, King LC sacked the corrupt junior members of the Chancellor’s office and set about showing not only the transparent justice which the courts of equity could achieve, but the application of transparency, care, trust and honesty to the law. Keech v Sandford is the most prominent example of King LC’s reformed legal profession applying its rigorous standards and penchant for fidelity to the legal problems of others. The lessons learned from the moral ailments of Macclesfield LC shaped the modern legal system while allowing the profession to reflect on its former illness and prescribe a medicine fit for the rest of society. Learning from the Mistakes of Others Notwithstanding the benefit of looking inwards at the ills of the profession for guidance, just as the doctor has his patients, the lawyer has his clients; healthy people rarely have cause to visit a physician and by the same token it is not until faced with a legal problem that an individual visits a lawyer. This keeps the lawyer’s senses trained on potential issues within his own life. Clients serve as a constant reminder of the legal pitfalls of our existence. As legal professionals, we are as uniquely placed to stay on the right side of the law as the doctor is to stay healthy. Moreover, unlike the medical profession, there is no element of luck in our fate: the doctor can be born with weak hips or a faulty heart while the lawyer can never be born with a poorly drafted deed or breached duty of care. It is for these reasons we must remind ourselves often that we are the masters of our own legal fate, perfectly placed to behave with the attributes of care, trust and honesty the legal profession has fought hard to establish, which can only be maintained with continued care from the next generation of lawyers. In the changing face of the legal profession, if we can protect nothing else – it must be this. Adam is a former Bristol student on the LLM in Commercial Law and winner of the Hunt Cup debating competition 2011/2012. He is currently studying for the BPTC in London as a Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn.
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Dworkin Spencer Turner examines the life, career and influences of this celebrated philosopher.
onald Dworkin passed away on February 14, 2013 at the age of 81. Throughout his life, Dworkin took on roles at Oxford, New York University, Yale Law School and University College London. His outstanding academic work left him regarded as one of the most influential, important, and insightful philosophers of law in the 20th and 21st centuries. Throughout his career, Dworkin’s work focused heavily on topical issues and developed influence pertaining to race, religion, and equality that were presented with greater accessibility than those who had come before him. To Dworkin’s biggest supporters he is widely regarded as a stalwart influencer who stood for freedom and fairness through his liberal philosophy. Dworkin lived an enviously brilliant life which saw him first study philosophy at Harvard University and then law at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he graduated with a first and thoroughly impressed HLA Hart with his final examination paper. Dworkin’s work is often considered a reaction to that of Hart’s. In his 1977 book, ‘Taking Rights Seriously,’ Dworkin described Hart’s philosophy as “normatively inert.” Despite this, Dworkin would go on to succeed Hart as Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford upon Hart’s recommendation. He held the position from 1969 until 1998, where Dworkin then took on the role of Jeremy Bentham as Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. His legal career began in 1957 in the US as a clerk for Judge Learned Hand, who at the time was one of the most prominent and famous judges who was not sitting on the Supreme Court. As with Hart, Dworkin had intellectual conflicts with Learned Hand, most notably over the Brown v School Board case of 1954. Nonetheless, Dworkin’s academic prowess and fortitude in challenging his ‘superiors’ made him stand out amongst his contemporaries. Dworkin then went on to work for Sullivan & Cromwell, which saw him turn down the opportunity to clerk for Justice Felix Frankfurter. His career saw him write a host of influential works including ‘Taking Rights Seriously’ (1977), ‘A Matter of Principle’ (1985), and perhaps his most famous piece ‘Law’s Empire’
(1986) in which Dworkin developed the theo- European Council on Foreign Relations thinkry of ‘Law as integrity.’ He therein argues that tank, whilst the other works as an award-winjudges should decide cases on the basis of creat- ning filmmaker and producer. During his life, ing a ‘single moral vision’ which is accessible to Dworkin shared his time between Belgravia, lay persons. Dworkin went New York, and Massachu“The breadth and on to tackle the pro-life setts. In his later years he debate in Life’s Dominion went on to write ‘Justice profundity of his (1993) and equality as the in Robes’ (2006) and ‘Jusforemost issue in Sovereign writing established him tice for Hedgehogs’ (2011), Virtue (2000). It is impossias one of the foremost which is an extended esble to sum up the entirety about the relationship legal philosophers of say of Dworkin’s work in one between morality and law. our time.” short article. However, it Dworkin’s influence on law can be said that the breadth is, and will continue to be, and profundity of his writing established him as far reaching thanks to his academic work, and one of the foremost legal philosophers of our work at various universities around the world. time. In his private life Dworkin was married to Spencer is a first-year LLB student. He is a features Betsy Ross, whom he had met in New York, for reporter for Epigram and took part in this year’s 42 years until her death in 2000. Together they Herbert Smith Freehills mooting and Hunt Cup dehad two children, one of whom works at the bating competitions.
2013 | 7
In The Spotlight
Bristol Law Conference The
Steven Hunter and Ross Burrell detail the first ever student-led law conference in the Russell Group.
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n 8th March 2013, the University After a brief introof Bristol Law School hosted the duction by the DepuRussell Group’s first fully student-run ty Vice-Chancellor of Law Conference. The Conference was the University, Professor David Clarke, founded by us, two final year law stu- the keynote speeches began, with Lady dents, in 2012. Upon sitting in the Hale taking the stage first. Lady Hale Common Room close to the end of the spoke about the law and the media from Spring term, we discussed the finance the perspective of the judiciary and disconferences and law lectures we had at- cussed the accessibility of the Supreme tended and it struck us as odd that there Court and how it was doing its best to had not been a dedicated one-day ‘law utilise technology to achieve this goal conference.’ After a brief Google search, through the use of its YouTube chanour suspicions were confirmed: it had nel. She also expressed her reservations not been done before and we wanted the about Theresa May’s recent criticisms of University of Bristol to be the first. Our the Human Rights Act as well as touchaim was to showcase the Law School to ing on the dialogue between government the rest of the higher education world as and the judiciary, particularly when this is a ‘centre of legal excellence’ and firmly played out in the eyes of the media. ‘put it on the map.’ Nick Gargan spoke about the often With Leveson going on in the back- tense relationship between the police ground, we decided on the topical theme and the media, particularly in light of of ‘Law and the Media’ and set about the Leveson enquiry. He noted how the finding some speakers and panel mem- police often feel pressure from the mebers. Eventually, our high-profile speak- dia, particularly in high profile cases. He er line-up was confirmed and included also touched upon the case of Chris Jefthe highly-respected Baroness Hale, fries, who was in the audience, and how Chancellor of the he had been viliUniversity and “Our aim was to showcase fied by the press highest ranking the role that the Law School to the rest and female judge in decisions of the of the higher education police may have the country; Bristol graduate Lord world as a ‘centre of legal played in this. DeHunt, the current spite the risks and chairman of the excellence’ and firmly ‘put controversies, he Press Complaints expressed that he it on the map’.” Commission; was very open newly-appointed Chief Constable of to social media saying the ‘benefits far Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Mr outweigh the risks,’ a point upon which Nick Gargan; and Gillian Phillips, the many of the audience members seemed director of editorial legal services from to agree. The Guardian. Lord Hunt then took the audience When the day arrived, we were into the world of press regulation and pleased to welcome over 400 students to spoke about the conclusions of Levethe Great Hall. Many came from Bristol son. He encouraged the political parties but we also had attendees from 18 differ- to reach a consensus on the next steps ent universities throughout the country. and was very keen to get to work on the
transformation of the Press Complaints Commission declaring that he was ‘firing the starting gun’ of new press regulation. The panel discussion chaired by Professor Judith Squires at the end of the event gave the audience a chance to interact with the speakers and also the opportunity for the speakers to interact with one another, which included some cheeky comments from Lord Hunt about the judiciary. Questions from the floor and the Conference Twitter feed ranged from cyber-bullying to the London riots and social media to drawing the line between freedom of expression and malicious communication. After the event, students revelled in the opportunity to get photos with Lady Hale and chat to Lord Hunt, Nick Gargan, and Gillian Phillips. There were also networking opportunities available with our line-up of sponsors – Burges Salmon, Osborne Clarke, Bond Pearce, and Linklaters – over tea, coffee, and refreshments. Overall, the event was enjoyed by those who attended. We have certainly enjoyed organising and hosting the conference. We hope that it will take place next year and continue to put the Law School on the map and mark Bristol as a centre of legal excellence. Steven and Ross are both final-year LLB students. Steven is the President of the Bristol Banking and Investment Society 2012/13 and a campus ambassador for J.P. Morgan. Ross is a Special Constable in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary and a Student Law Panellist for the Oxford University Press.
How to Get the Most out of Law School
Editor-in-Chief Nicole Wong and Managing Editor Jack Moulder advise on how to make the most of law student opportunities. Academics Study smarter, not harder. Read your syllabus carefully and tailor your study method according to your mode of assessment. Whether your subject is exam or coursework-based should heavily influence where you focus your time and energy. Choose a textbook that best suits you. The recommended textbooks are not always ‘the best’ – different people learn better from different formats. Don’t be lazy; invest the time and browse through the various options, especially in the beginning of the year when you still have the time. They are usually all available in the Wills Library. Check your university email on a regular basis. If an announcement is made on Blackboard, you will automatically be sent an email containing the same information. This is particularly important because these announcements generally include changes in timetable, cancellations or additional information regarding upcoming seminars or lectures - all of which you’d want to know as soon as possible. Alternatively, you could get the free Blackboard app on your phone, which can be set to notify you when a change is made to any of your courses. Don’t skip a class. No, not even one. The moment you do it once, it’s a slippery slope to skipping them regularly. Even if you didn’t have time to prepare, you’re still better off showing up than not showing up at all. You’ll get some useful notes from the class discussion (and anything important your tutor might say about upcoming essays or exams) and you’re bound to absorb at least a little bit of the information by osmosis. This also goes for lectures. I know they’re recorded and put online but don’t rely on that because you’ll never get around to it. If you have an iPad, buy the Notability app. Best £1.49 you’ll ever spend. This baby allows you to highlight, type and handwrite on your PDF notes but here’s the best bit: if you audio record while you type your notes, you can tap on a word when you’re reviewing what you’ve written to skip directly to the relevant part of the recording. Buy study aids. We’re both big fans of the Law Express study guides. They’re clear and to the point, with summaries of all the important cases and article citations for further reading. However, this is obviously our own personal preference and there are tons of other guides out there for
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you to explore. Spend some time reading through as many of them as you can find in Blackwells, either the one on Park Street or the one in the Union, then buy it on Amazon (everything’s cheaper online!). Stay on top of your notes. It’s easy to compile and update notes after each seminar, tutorial and lecture (you’re also more likely to remember vital pieces of information when it’s fresh in your mind). But doing it for all four of your subjects retrospectively at the end of year when exams are looming? It will take absolutely forever. You want to spend your revision time actually revising. Don’t leave it to the end of the year. Do well on your coursework. It isn’t difficult to get a high mark on your coursework - all your need to do is put in a little time and effort. Clement Fung will show you how in ‘The Elusive 72’ on p. 14. Use this as an opportunity to skew your marks in your favour even before you step into the examination hall. Form a study group and share the burden. As Steven Vaughan pointed out, this isn’t the hunger games. Share your ideas for essays and notes for exams with a close group of trusted friends and help each other out whenever you can. Law school is difficult enough already without people trying to bite each other’s heads off. Look at past papers and unit reports together. Both of these are available in Blackboard - go under ‘Law Student Information’, click on the ‘Assessment’ tab, then the folder labelled ‘Past Papers’ or ‘Unit Reports’, depending on what you’re looking for. Use these together to develop a strategy on answering questions: figure out what questions tend to come up the most by going through past papers and discover what the examiner is looking for by reading their comments in the unit reports. Revise by doing past papers. When exams are getting really close, stop writing notes. It doesn’t matter if you only got through writing half your notes. Start doing the past papers about 3-4 weeks before your first exams. Create model answers by practicing old exam questions. You will train yourself out of viewing issues in a compartmentalised way, and it will help selective revision by giving you a sense of which issues tend to be bundled. It will also highlight any holes you have in your knowledge. Plus, some tutors allow you to submit one practice response for marking, an opportunity you can only capitalise on if you actually do a question. »
DICTAadvice Extra-Curricular Get involved with everything you can. Studying law isn’t really like being a lawyer. The closest thing you can get is participating in extracurricular activities - debating and mooting for the would-be barristers; Law Clinic and arbitration for future solicitors. Only by doing the extracurricular stuff will you stay motivated, and remind you why you do what you do. Take a look at all the extra-curricular activities affiliated with the law school in ‘Boost Your Resumé’ on p.16. Build up your experience. Positions that are more competitive, e.g. those on the Law Journal Editorial Board, UBLC Executive Committee and Law Clinic, tend to be quite difficult to obtain. If you’d like to take part in these later on in your degree, work your way up by gaining experience with extra-curricular activities that are more inclusive, like Bristol Innocence Project and Howard League. Try things that are out of your comfort zone. Don’t run away from them just because they scare you. These experiences tend to be the most rewarding. I (Nicole) have always been terrified of public speaking, which is the reason why I forced myself to try debating this year. I’m still a little terrified but it was an amazing experience. Network with the students you work with. Students are often involved in multiple projects, and personal recommendations will pay dividends in breaking into other extra-curricular opportunities. Be reliable. Respond to emails when you receive them and keep people updated on your progress. If you have a smartphone, set it so your email app notifies you the moment you get a new message. Also, keep in mind that people are relying on you to get the job done, so do it and do it well. Remember that you made a commitment, and you have to honour it. Career Get a Linked-In account and sign up for the Bristol PLuS Award from the outset. The pre-set categories give you an idea of where the holes are in your CV. Keep your CV updated. Don’t wait until you really need it before finally sitting down and writing it. The Careers Service is a good place to get some tips and tricks on how to put together your CV (http://www.bris. ac.uk/careers/advice/cvs.asp). If you need one to one help, make an appointment with a careers advisor. Do all this at the very beginning of the year, before you start getting any real coursework and more importantly, before any extra-curricular or career opportunities start popping up. Go to as many firm events as you can. They generally don’t give you any more information about their firm but they do give you a real feel for what the firm is like. Go your first year so you know what you’re doing the second year when you start applying for vac schemes. Write down the names of the partners, associates, trainees and grad recruitment you meet for potential ‘name-dropping’ purposes if you do choose to apply for a position with the firm later on. Plus you get free wine, so it’s never a waste of your time. Commercial awareness. A partner of a top Silver Circle firm once explained to me (Jack) that, for him, commercial awareness was all about risk. When you are dealing with commercial contracts, you are talking about allocating risks between the contracting parties, preferably deflecting them away from your own client. Before you can identify the risks for your client and attempt to mitigate them, you need to appreciate the risks to which they are exposed. That means that you need to understand their business, as well as the broader commercial context within which they operate. You can develop and demonstrate commercial awareness in a number of ways. The easiest and most commonplace is to read up on developments in the business world in the FT, or in the business section of The Times. This is a good way to develop an awareness of commercial background, and firms will expect you to be up-to-date with the business world.
Explore your options. You are not only limited to becoming either a solicitor or barrister after you graduate. Law is one of the most flexible degrees to have, and there are many jobs in other fields that are equally viable options. If you’re interested in academia, or how to approach thinking about your career options in general, read a little about Aaron Khan’s experience in ‘“Aren’t You Just a Perpetual Law Student?”’ on p.36. Buy some decent work clothes. Especially if you plan to attend any firm presentations or participate in the mooting or debating competitions. You need to look the part so have a few good suits and proper work dresses handy. Social Attend the UBLC Socials. All of them. They’re amazing, and entirely unique to the law school experience. You’ll never have an opportunity to do anything like this again after you graduate, so do it while you still can! By the way, if your excuse for not attending is that you’re too busy studying, you’re doing it wrong. Just saying. Make friends with everyone. Especially people who aren’t in your year or your course. You don’t have to limit yourself to a particular social circle. Plus, there’s less of a competitive air when you’re not taking the same classes, so there’s a greater willingness to help each other out by providing old notes and previously marked coursework. Lifestyle Lawyers work hard and play hard. Law school is a marathon race. Don’t burn out before you get to the finishing line. It’s all about balance. During the term, take a day or two off each week to relax. During the term break, plan to study only half the time so you get to fully enjoy yourself during your time allocated for rest and concentrate completely during your time allocated for study, rather than inefficiently half-studying the entire time. Stay motivated. Find things to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, because there will be times when it gets tough. Personally, we like to watch Suits. But we’re sure you’ll find something that will work well for you. Develop a routine. Create a schedule that fits in all your classes, sufficient study time, a few gym sessions a week and eight hours of sleep a night - then do your best to stick to it. It may be difficult in the beginning but habits only take 30 days to establish so if you can pull through the first month, you’re basically good to go. Even if you have some trouble, don’t give up. Keep at it until it becomes second nature (which it will eventually). Plan your time and stay organised. Use the free Slaughter and May diaries provided in the freshers’ packs (or your smart phone) to keep all your to-do lists and day-to-day appointments. Buy a big wall calendar and mark down all your important dates. Keep a budget. Don’t wait until the end of the year when you’re overwhelmed with assessments and exam revision to worry about your finances. Think ahead and be realistic when planning out how to spend your money. Stock up on supplies. Buy your freshers’ flu supplies at the beginning of the year, before you get ill. If you don’t you won’t do it until you actually become ill. And you almost certainly will. Nicole is a first-year MA Law student, the Postgraduate Representative of the UBLC 2012/13, a quarter-finalist in this year’s Hunt Cup Debating Competition and President of the Bristol Law Conference Committee 2013/2014. Jack is a final-year MA Law student and the Treasurer of the UBLC 2012/13, who will be conducting research next year at University College London.
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Dicta provides a list of free attractions around Bristol, helping you keep within a student budget when friends and family visit. City Features Clifton Suspension Bridge Built between 1831 and 1864, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Grade-I listed, iconic suspension bridge is a Bristol landmark, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year. In spite of having been designed for light, horse-drawn traffic, the bridge continues to serve the needs of modern commuters, supporting 11-12,000 vehicles daily (image above). Cabot Tower & Brandon Hill Brandon Hill, situated behind Berkeley Square, is Bristol’s oldest park, featuring spectacular views over the city centre and Harbourside. The park also features Cabot Tower, which is open daily and is free to access, granting views across the whole of Bristol. The tower’s namesake, John Cabot, sailed from Bristol to the North American continent four hundred years prior to the tower’s construction in 1897 (top image on opposite page). College Green College Green is located at the bottom of Park St, in front of Bristol Cathedral. It provides a peaceful, green city space ideal for reading or lounging with friends on sunny afternoons. Walking Tour Take the chance to delve into the history of Bristol, meet some of the characters raised here, explore their ideas and
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see the work they’ve done; you can be sure you’ll come away impressed. Walking Bristol provides walking tours of the city on Tuesday and Saturdays, and they are free of charge. See http://walkingbristol.com/ for further details. Banksy Walking Tour Take advantage of the opportunity to view the works of Bristol’s notorious street artist and see the sights of Bristol in the process. Details of the various pieces and the route which connects then can be found at http://visitbristol.co.uk/thingsto-do/banksy-walking-tour-p1354013. Churches Castle Park Nestled between Cabot Circus and the Harbourside, Castle Park offers a quiet place to sit or stroll after an afternoon of shopping. The park is also a focus for many sculptural artworks, from a carved stone throne to a unique water fountain. Bristol Cathedral Bristol’s grand Cathedral can be found at the foot of Park St, alongside College Green. It is one of the finest hall churches in the world (don’t ask us what a hall church is) and has stood for almost a thousand years. Like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, it is Grade-I listed and one of the most spectacular pieces of architecture the city has to offer (bottom image on opposite page). »
St Mary Redcliffe Church St Mary Redcliffe is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, featuring stained glass, carved bosses, 18th Century ironwork and a world famous organ. The church is situated above the floating harbour and at the historical epicentre of Bristol’s shipping industry. Museums The Georgian House Museum Another feature of the Park St area, the Georgian House Museum offers a flashback to life in 18th Century Bristol at its mercantile zenith. This six-storey town house has been restored to its former glory and now provides an insight into the life of the prosperous merchants who once occupied the area. The house is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends from 10:30am-4pm, from Easter until the end of October. Red Lodge Museum Boasting magnificent Tudor rooms, the Red Lodge Museum constitutes another fine example of Bristol history. The house is open from the end of March until the end of June, Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends from 10:30am4pm. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery Reaching back further in time, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery reveals all, from archaeological and geological marvels to ancient civilisations. Discover dinosaurs, explore Ancient Egypt and find out about the Bristol Diamond. Open MondayFriday, 10am-5pm, and weekends 10am-6pm. M Shed The M Shed covers the history of the city from prehistoric times to the 21st Century. Working with experts and communities across the city, stories about Bristol and its people have been collated and combined with collections of art and artefacts to create a rich tapestry of Bristolian history. Visit http://mshed.org/ for more details. The Architecture Centre The Architecture Centre makes it its mission to promote excellence in design and the built environment. Browse the gallery or take part in one of the events, tours, workshops, discussions or lectures. The Centre is based in the Harbourside area of Bristol and is open 11am-5pm Wednesday-Friday and 12pm-5pm during the weekend. Arnolfini The Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts, presenting innovative work in the visual arts, dance, film, music and performance. The converted warehouse boasts one of the country’s best arts bookshops, and the centre hosts a programme of educational activities with facilities including five exhibition spaces, a theatre/cinema auditorium, and Reading Room. Entry is free, but fees may apply to individual exhibitions. See www.arnolfini.org.uk for more information.
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The Elusive 72 Many of you will have wondered, ‘how on earth does one get a first?’. Clement Fung shares some essay-writing tactics that will get you that ‘elusive 72’.
eventy-two percent. First class. Distinction. This elusive grade boundary captures all our gazes but most of us never taste the joy of stepping beyond it. Statistically, Bristol law school is ‘designed’ so that most of us will score in the 2.1 range, thus rendering only a fortunate few the blessing of ever breaking past the seventy-two percent. Prior to exams, coursework will be the most valuable opportunity to develop your legal skills and understanding of the law, especially for MA and LLM students. So how do you write first-class essays, you may ask? Obviously every student thinks and writes differently, but here are a few universal ingredients that, when applied together, have aided my friends and I to successfully overcome the elusive seventy-two percent barrier at Bristol law school. 1. Start Early.
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No seriously, start early and what early means is two weeks (or more) before the deadline. Yes, I start my essays two weeks beforehand because, unfortunately, I am not a natural essay writer so what I lack in ability I make up for with time. Why two weeks? Well, it takes one week to conduct thorough research, several days to write, and a several more to edit (never hand in your
first draft!). Thinking about the essay material bit-by-bit every day for two weeks allows the subject matter and the various perspectives from different authors to sink into your mind. Meanwhile, beware of information fatigue. It is also constructive to pause and reflect on how the different perspectives integrate into a coherent argument. Only then could you say you have thought critically about your essay. 2. Work with a trusted friend(s). No, this does not mean copying your friend or writing the essay together (don’t even try at the severe risk of plagiarism!). What this means is, first, during the researching stage of your essay, seek out like-minded friends in class who are aiming also to write first-class essays to share and discuss your ideas with. The simple act of verbal discussion will help consolidate your thoughts. Often others will see things you have missed or read important sources you may have overlooked. The more you ask the more you will discover, and the more you share the more you will receive. Secondly, upon finishing a first draft, find the same trusted friend(s) and read each other’s essays word-forword. Give your honest feedback; you do no favours »
DICTAadvice to the other person by being nice and sugar-coating your fort into the areas which they said require improvement. opinion. It is often at this stage where essays transform Secondly, tutors often reveal their preferences durfrom mediocrity into excellence. In fact, I encourage my ing tutorials or seminars. Pay attention to anything your trusted friends even to tell me what grade they think my tutor says that discloses their preferences. For example, first draft is. For example, my trusted in seminars leading up to my constitu“Coursework will friend once told me that my first draft tional law summative essay, my tutor was only a 2.1 essay and that it would be the most valuable consistently emphasized the impornever break the seventy-two percent tance of the concept of the ‘test of opportunity to develop proportionality’. It was obvious my boundary in its present form, while pinpointing reasons for their opinion. your legal skills and tutor wanted to see some discussion Yes it felt horrible to hear that at first, this emerging area of law in my esunderstanding of the on but I decided to accept the critique say. Put another way, I would definitelaw.” constructively. Afterwards, I went ly lose marks in the eyes of the tutor back to my draft and improved it acif I failed to offer some analysis on cording to my friend’s recommendations. In the end, by ‘proportionality’. God’s grace my essay broke past the seventy-two percent By paying close attention, you will discover that your barrier. tutor has revealed much about how they like essays to be This process of mutual critique and feedback has done. So give tutors what they want to see and they will personally been the most valuable aspect of reading Law want to award you a high grade. at Bristol University. So, find a trusted friend to work with and I am confident that the quality of your course4. Rest. work will be far better than anything you could produce from working alone. Lastly, get quality sleep and rest your eyes. This is indispensable. Resting does not mean watching YouTube 3. ‘Bespoke’ Essays. videos or scrolling through Facebook. You can learn seminar material when tired, but you certainly cannot Despite the standardised grading rubric Bristol law think critically if your eyes are tired. For example, on school provides, every tutor has their own unique prefer- days when I am writing essays, I make sure to get at least ences and requirements. Therefore, tailor each essay to eight hours of sleep and take a short half hour afternoon the preferences of the tutor who will be marking it. But nap. Otherwise, my brain is tired and I know from expehow do you discover your tutor’s unique taste? rience that a fatigued brain cannot produce its best work. First, make the most of every formative coursework. Obviously, stepping beyond the seventy-two percent People often underestimate the importance of formative boundary is much easier said than done, but let’s be clear coursework because they do not count towards the final - it is possible. For those of us chasing the elusive sevengrade. Don’t make the same mistake: put your full effort ty-two percent, that is all we need to know. into it. The tutor’s feedback and the mark awarded are the gold nuggets of formative coursework; they reveal Clement is a first-year MA Law student who took part in this exactly what your tutor is looking for. Only when you year’s Herbert Smith Freehills mooting He attends the Lawhave done your best will the feedback be of any use. yers Christian Fellowship, and aims to join the bar in Hong When you write your subsequent summative essay, repeat Kong. all the aspects your tutor commended, and put extra ef-
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Boost Your Resumé
Bristol law school’s extra-curricular activities are summed up in a quick guide so that you don’t miss out on CV-boosting opportunities. UBLC Executive Committee The University of Bristol Law Club (UBLC) is the students’ law society for the University of Bristol. It is one of the University’s largest (and, frankly, best) societies, providing opportunities for everything from mooting and debating to socials and sports. The task of administering these various exciting activities falls to the UBLC executive committee. The levels of responsibility which the committee positions offer, for the most senior roles in particular, are high. Offsetting the expenditure of time and effort they demand, though, is the opportunity to work alongside a group of dedicated students to better the society. The work on the committee never gets dull, and for those inclined to partake in the more bacchanalian aspects of UBLC life it makes the (responsible and mature) enjoyment of the law socials that much sweeter. The earliest elections in the year are for the First Year Representative, Postgraduate Representative, Four-Year Course Representative and Mediation Co-ordinator, candidates for which are typically elected in October. The remainder of the committee elections occur in late March. The process can be divided into three parts: submission of manifestos, delivery of speeches by candidates at Hustings, and campaigning (frantic sweet distribution). For more information regarding the particular roles you’re interested in, contact the executive committee member currently holding the position. Their details are on the UBLC website: http://ublc. co.uk/. Don’t pass on the opportunity to get involved. The scope of opportunities the UBLC offers are what make it the enviable society that it is, and a great society to be involved in running. Dicta Legal Magazine Dicta, as you probably will be aware by now, is the UBLC’s annual legal magazine. It is published with the dual aims of providing the law student with interesting articles and with the opportunity to get published. Copies of Dicta are circulated to graduating students and incoming Freshers, as well as being distributed at open days and in the common rooms throughout the rest of the year. There are five sections: advice, careers, education, study abroad and committee sections. Articles in these sections tend to be fairly consistent in their content each year but updated by successive generations of law students. In addition, there are the more nomadic feature articles which owe greater allegiance to the theme of each year’s issue. Article submissions are generally accepted between January and February. »
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DICTAadvice The Editor-in-Chief is appointed in December. The editorial board, which typically consists of 2-4 students, is appointed in January at the direction of the Editor-in-Chief. Applications for any editorial position will involve submitting a CV and attending an interview. For more information, please contact Nicole Wong (nw12454@ my.bristol.ac.uk), Editor-in-Chief of Dicta 2012/13 or Dan Bishop (email@example.com), President of UBLC 2013/14. Bristol Law Journal The Bristol Law Journal is the University’s own academic journal, which launched its first edition in 2012. It represents the strong commitment both the UBLC and the School of Law have to academic research. The emblem on the front of the journal contains the words ‘In Gremio Legis’, which stands for ‘Under the Protection of the Law’. It encompasses what the Bristol Law Journal stands for: legal scholarship and the importance of critical analysis of the law in order to offer the best protection to those governed by it. The Journal is composed of academic articles written by either current or alumni students of the University of Bristol. While a portion of the essays selected are the top scoring Final Year Research Projects by LLB Law students from the previous academic year, submissions are welcomed from all subjects and years. Submissions are required to follow a number of strict formatting rules which are detailed in the email sent out in October requesting submissions. The submission deadline is in December. The Editor-in-Chief is appointed in early October. The editorial board, which typically consists of 3-4 postgraduate students, is selected by the Editor-in-Chief in late October. An email calling for applications is generally sent out at the same time the email calling for submissions is sent. For more information, please contact Dan Bishop (db9551@ my.bristol.ac.uk), President of UBLC 2013/14. University of Bristol Law Clinic The University of Bristol Law Clinic is one of University’s most established pro-bono clinics. Staffed and coordinated by students, the Clinic provides free legal advice to citizens on matters concerning housing law, property law, neighbour/nuisance disputes, employment law, consumer protection/sale of goods, and general contract/tort law. The work undertaken by students involves delivering informative presentations, researching cases, and liaising with clients. The Law Clinic provides an excellent opportunity for students to see how basic legal principles work in practice. The Executive Committee typically comprises between ten and twelve students, each of whom assumes a different responsibility. Outside of the Committee, a number of students are chosen to undertake research and deliver presentations. An e-mail is generally sent out at the beginning of term giving instructions as to how to apply to participate. Students are required to complete and send back the form available on the Law Clinic website, detailing reasons for applying and any previous relevant experience. Applications close in the middle of October. Applications for the Executive Committee open in the spring term and follow a similar procedure. Presentations and casework continue throughout the autumn and spring terms. Students are expected to demonstrate a high level of commitment to both cases and presentations. More information is available on the Law Clinic website: http:// www.bristollawclinic.co.uk/, where you will also find contact details for any further queries.
University of Bristol Innocence Project The University of Bristol Innocence Project is the founding branch of a charity called Innocence Network United Kingdom (INUK). INUK provides support for those within the criminal justice system who maintain factual innocence against their convictions. Such support is predominantly provided through student recruits, who volunteer as Pro-Bono Case-Workers and spend five hours each week investigating the cases of applicants maintaining innocence. It is a brilliant extra-curricular activity for those with an interest in criminal and human rights law as well as areas of social justice. This work is also hugely beneficial to law students as it is a rare opportunity to gain hands-on experience with real cases. It also serves as a practical revision tool for criminal and evidential areas of law. As such, affiliation with any Innocence Project is greatly esteemed by law firms and chambers alike. The UoB Innocence Project recruits at the start of each academic year. All law school members will receive emails notifying students of recruitment meetings and training opportunities in October. Please bear in mind that attendance to the introductory meeting is mandatory and joining INUK will cost £100. Most student Case-Workers should be prepared to volunteer from 1.15-6pm every Wednesday afternoon during term-time. Whilst there are opportunities to gain seniority within the Innocence Project, this is done on a casual basis and is dependent on the number of years committed and quality of work produced. For more information, please contact Gabe Tan (gabe.tan@ bristol.ac.uk), the Executive Director of INUK alongside Founding Director, Michael Naughton. Herbert Smith Freehills Mooting Competition Most freshers are unlikely to have ever heard of a ‘moot’, or may have only briefly encountered the term on work experience. A moot is a hypothetical appeal case argued by Law students. In each group, two students act for the appellant and two for the respondent, each arguing a different point of law. Following research, students argue their case orally before a judge (a more experienced student, a lecturer, a barrister, or, in the case of the final, a judge). Two students from each group of four - not necessarily from the same ‘team’ - are chosen to proceed to the next round. To be chosen, students do not necessarily have to win the case, but must make the best presentation of legal argument. The time taken in moot preparation varies from case to case. Sometimes a few hours will suffice - and other times you may be researching for days! But this should not put you off from participating. Mooting is not only intellectually challenging and an excellent source of exam revision, but it is also an incredibly good way of making new friends. If this isn’t enough to convince you, each moot is followed by a splendid three-course meal at one of the many nearby restaurants courtesy of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, who sponsor the UBLC competition. For those interested in finding out more, the mooting launch night is usually held on the third Wednesday of term. The first round of the competition takes place during the autumn term, with the following rounds scattered across the spring term. The final of the competition takes place in March, before the Easter holidays. Though the competition is open to all UBLC members (both the experienced and the inexperienced), keep in mind that mooting is always very popular. Places are limited, so sign-up proceeds on a first-come-first-served basis during the week following the launch night. Please remember » DICTA
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DICTAadvice to bring your £10 sign-up fee (easily worth it considering the above mentioned dinners). Any inquiries should be directed to Andy Sanger (as12025@ my.bristol.ac.uk) or Lauren Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org), Master and Mistress of the Moot 2013/14 (if you’re a first- or second-year student), or to Sarah Edmond (email@example.com) or Eloise Pollard (firstname.lastname@example.org), Senior Mistresses of the Moot 2013/14 (if you’re a final-year or postgraduate student).
case debate. This is where you will be able to sign up for the competition. Any inquiries should be directed to Aaron Lee (al12231@ my.bristol.ac.uk), Chair of the Debate, or Jan Zeber (j.zeber.2011@ my.bristol.ac.uk), Third Year Representative and Vice Chair of the Debate.
The International Commercial Mediation Competition, organised by the International Chamber of Commerce, is the University of Bristol’s internal mediation competition, typically held between the end of November and the beginning of December. This is a very good opportunity to get involved with an emerging and promising area of Alternative Dispute Resolution, not only in the commercial world but also in an array of other areas. The winning team from the internal competition will be given the opportunity to represent the University of Bristol at the National UK Mediation Skills Competition 2013, generally held in London in mid-January. The position of Mediation Co-ordinator is elected in October, alongside the UBLC executive committee positions. An email calling for applicants to compete in the internal competition will be sent out to all UBLC members in early November. Applications will require a CV and responses to a few questions regarding reasons for interest. For more information, please contact Aristotle Glyky (Aristotle_Glyky-CY.LLB.email@example.com), Mediation Co-ordinator of the UBLC 2012/13 or Dan Bishop (firstname.lastname@example.org), President of the UBLC 2013/14.
Once you have mastered the art of mooting in the UBLC competition, you can take things to a national level by auditioning to represent Bristol against other universities. Every year, Bristol enters three teams of two into national competitions – the Essex Court Chambers (ESU) Mooting Competition, the Oxford University Press (OUP) Mooting Competition, and the Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Moot Competition. Competition is fierce given that most participants have already won or excelled in competitions hosted by their own universities, but this makes the experience all the more exciting. Whereas in the UBLC competition you are judged individually, competitors in the national competitions are judged as a team. This means that good teamwork is absolutely crucial to your success as a national mooter. Inter-varsity mooting is admittedly a large time commitment (moots can take anything from half a day to three days to prepare), especially if you progress to the later stages of the national competitions – but the experience is exciting, insightful, and definitely attractive to employers. Whilst the ESU and OUP competitions takes place over a series of rounds, the Inner Temple competition takes the form of a one-day knock-out – so the timing of your workload will vary according to the competition in which you participate! Auditions for the national teams take place early in the autumn term, with competitions beginning shortly after. The audition usually involves mooting the first-round ESU moot against other auditioning students, with a lecturer or tutor judging. For more information, please contact Emma Loizou (el0128@ my.bristol.ac.uk), Inter-Varsity Coordinator 2013/14.
International Commercial Mediation Competition
Bar Society The University of Bristol Bar Society has established itself as a career-oriented society for budding barristers studying at Bristol. Throughout the year, the society organises: • •
Hunt Cup Debating Competition The Hunt Cup is the UBLC’s internal debating competition, tailored to improve skills necessary for a legal career whilst providing an excellent opportunity to network. The competition is free and open to all members of the UBLC, regardless of experience and ability. The Hunt Cup provides an excellent opportunity to meet new people from across the law school, increase your confidence and argumentative power, develop your ability to think creatively on your feet and build a repertoire of advocacy skills. The motion is sent out by the Chair or Vice-Chair of the Debate each Monday and the debate is held the following Thursday at 7pm, with pre-drinks at 6pm and post-drinks after the debate for networking. There are 64 places in the competition and five rounds of debate: first round, second round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Each debate consists of four student, two of whom advance to the next round. The ultimate prize, if you win the competition, is a vacation scheme with DAC Beachcroft LLP, who not only sponsor the competition but provide solicitors to act as judges in every round and who give personalised comprehensive and constructive feedback on your debating performance. The launch night is held in early October each year, with a show-
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• • • •
talks from barristers practising in a number of different areas; advocacy demonstrations and competitions judged by local BPTC providers; visits to the Inns of Court; trips to dinners held at the Inns of Court, during which students are able to network with barristers and judges; Q&A sessions relating to pupillage and mini-pupillage applications; and of course, the annual Mock Trial judged by Sir Richard Field, marking the culmination of the academic year.
Whilst the society’s talks, visits, and Q&A sessions inform students about a career at the Bar, advocacy events equip aspiring barristers and solicitors alike with public speaking experience. Students practise delivering coherent oral arguments in a relaxed atmosphere and receive useful feedback for improvement from Bar students. The most successful participants are offered positions as advocates in the Mock Trial. Members are also encouraged to participate as witnesses, defendants, or jurors in this final event, which is always a success! Events begin in the second or third week of the autumn term and continue until the end of the spring term, generally on a weekly basis. The Bar Society AGM takes place during the penultimate or final week of the spring term. Students are able to run for the positions of President, Vice-President, Advocacy Representative, General Secretary, or Treasurer. »
DICTAadvice Membership for the society will be available from the Bar Society stall at the freshers’ fair for the small price of £5. For more information, please contact Turan Hursit (th0681@ bristol.ac.uk), President of the Bar Society 2013/2014.
html, where you will also be able to find contact information for the HRIC’s Research Associate.
Bristol Law Conference
Bristol Amicus is a student society that aims to promote the work of Amicus, a small legal charity which helps to provide representation for those facing the death penalty in the United States. Amicus was founded in 1992 in memory of Andrew Lee Jones, a black man who was convicted of murder by an all-white jury and executed by the state of Louisiana in 1991. The charity has helped to save lives: in the case of Bobby Purcell, a defendant who was 16 years old at the time of his offence in Arizona, two lawyers from Bristol drafted an amicus curiae brief for the sentencing hearing, explaining the position regarding the execution of minors in international law. This helped to persuade the judge to pass a life sentence instead of a death sentence. During 2012/13, Bristol Amicus has organised a number of events to raise awareness about the death penalty, including: successful talks by Mark George QC and by Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle, two death row survivors; an entertaining debate between current and former Bristol law students about the arbitrary application of the death penalty; and occasional film and discussion evenings. We also help to provide members with training, casework and internship opportunities in the USA. If you would like to become a member, please visit: http:// www.ubu.org.uk/activities/societies/6112/. A nominal membership fee of £2 will be charged. The AGM is held at the beginning of the final term when we will be electing new members for the Bristol Amicus executive committee. Please e-mail amicus.bristol@gmail. com for further information.
The Bristol Law Conference is an annual conference organised by Bristol Law students. It aims to showcase the School of Law as a centre of legal excellence by presenting some of the best legal minds that the country has to offer. The 2013 conference was the first of its kind amongst Russell Group universities. Speakers included Baroness Hale, Supreme Court judge and Chancellor of Bristol University, Lord Hunt, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, and Nick Gargan, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. The speeches were followed by a panel discussion, in which Gillian Phillips, Director of Editorial Legal Services at The Guardian, also participated. The event was open to all UK university students and took place in March. A new committee is appointed at the end of the spring term, not long after the event. Organisers must decide on a theme, liaise with speakers and secure sponsorship for the event. They must attend weekly meetings in the months leading up to the event to consolidate progress, as well as sending out e-mails and making calls when required. Unsurprisingly, this becomes more time-consuming as the event approaches. If this sounds like something in which you would like to get involved, look out for the e-mail that is sent by the organisers following the conference in March. If you would like to apply for a committee position, you will have to outline your ideas for the following year’s conference and any relevant experience that you may have. Any other questions relating to the Law Conference should be e-mailed to email@example.com. Human Rights Law Clinic The Human Rights Law Clinic is a clinic whose work caters to organisations dealing with alleged human rights violations. It exists under the umbrella of the Human Rights Implementation Centre. Under the supervision of staff, student caseworkers support cases brought by national and international organisations by providing background research which is presented largely in the form of reports. In 2011/12, the Clinic undertook projects concerning issues such as immigration detention, arbitrary detention, and the admissibility criteria to bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights. The Clinic provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in Human Rights Law. Information about applications is sent out in October of each year via e-mail. Applications are only open to students who have undertaken or are currently undertaking a module involving human rights law, and require a letter of interest and a CV. Students can apply to be caseworkers or for the positions of Student Director or Assistant Director. The latter two are responsible for coordinating work between the partner organisations of the Clinic and student researchers. Caseworkers are expected to dedicate a few hours a week to their research. Those applying to be Student Director or Assistant Director should be prepared for a variable workload; some weeks, there may be only a few hours of work to do, whereas other weeks may be busier if organisation deadlines are approaching. Student research for the Human Rights Clinic gets started in November/December and continues until April. For more information, please consult the HRLC website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/research/centres-themes/hric/hrlcl.
Howard League for Penal Reform The Howard League for Penal Reform Society at Bristol University is a student branch of the oldest prison reform charity in Britain. As a student society, the Howard League aims to enhance public knowledge of deficiencies in the penal system, campaign for reform and raise funds to enhance the work of the central charity in London. This is achieved through scheduled speaker events including community project leaders and ex-prisoners, trips to prisons and alternative justice initiatives such as The Clink in Cardiff. It is an ideal opportunity for those who are passionate about restorative justice, proper scrutiny of prison reform proposals and the active remedy of high reoffending rates in Britain. Anyone can join at freshers’ fair at the start of each academic year, or can get directly in touch with the committee at a later date. A small membership fee of £3 will be charged. Events are ad hoc but generally occur during term-time only and members are entitled but not required to attend all organised meetings. Therefore, the time a student member commits to participation in Howard League activities is entirely at their own discretion. Those wishing to participate to a greater extent can run for an executive position at the AGM which is held in the final term of each semester and advertised through the UBLC. No previous participation is required in order to run for a committee position. For more information on membership, events or committee positions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Lawyer’s Guide to Bristol
What’s your favourite haunt in Bristol? Law students share a few ideas on where to go in between those tutorial preparation sessions. 1. Best place to get a drink Situated on Whiteladies Road, W.G. Grace is a recent addition to the student pub circuit, supplementing the existing Spoons on the Triangle. Cheap and cheerful. “Definitely has to be Wetherspoons, preferably the new one on Whiteladies Road due to the fact that the average age is not over 70. Can’t go wrong with two cocktail pitchers for £10!” - Anna Rainsford (1st Year LLB)
“Got to be Wills’ library. Nicest library in the entire uni. Fact.” Freddie Mehlig (1st Year LLB)
Second on the list is the unfortunately named Arts and Social Sciences (ASS) library. The butt of much punning, intentional or otherwise, the ASS provides many law students with a second home away from Wills. With several floors of study space as well as private study booths, all-nighters are infinitely more bearable when taken in the ASS. 3. Best coffee shop
Another regular haunt for law and non-law students alike, the White Harte is a staple for pre-Triangle antics. Located in Clifton Village, the Corrie Tap is popular with students looking for a vibrant atmosphere without the drunken revelry of the Triangle. Nevertheless, the Exhibition Cider is lethal. “The last time I was there, a jazz band was playing. They dropped in What’s the Difference by Dr. Dre mid-jam. I have never been so confused and elated.” - Jack Moulder (Final Year MA)
Hyde & Co., a cocktail bar perfect for the more refined patron, can be found (with difficulty) just off the Triangle. Entry is granted from inside only, lending the venue an exclusive air.
Conveniently placed across from the Wills Building, the Café Nero on Queens Road offers a quieter place to enjoy a coffee break from studying. Nero’s is also a great place to study for those preferring the light bustle of the coffee shop to the deafening silence of the library. “Nero on Queen’s Rd – the baristas already know our orders and Wills is close enough to have access to eudoram when the Cloud isn’t working.” - Marina Velickovic (Final Year LLB)
Further up Queens Road you can find Costa, another firm favourite with students. Generally noisier than Nero’s but the Mocha Cooler is simply divine. 4. Favourite sandwich place
“Definitely Hyde & Co. It just feels so sneaky!” - Helen Peden (2nd Year LLB)
The law student’s favourite baguettery, Boulangerie sits just opposite Wills and is a great place to grab a cheap baguette.
2. Favourite Study Spot Law students have nominated our very own Law Library as their study spot of choice. Located in the East Wing of the Wills Memorial Building, our newly-refurbished library at least allows those hours poring over books to be undertaken in a grand and venerable setting. “New east wing of wills (so many plug sockets!)” - Alex Fallon (2nd year, LLB law)
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“The Boulangerie, cheap and tasty baguettes, and conveniently placed opposite Wills.” - Josh Carruthers (2nd year LLB)
Peculiar to the South West, branches of Boston Tea Party are always great for a nice breakfast or a coffee in the afternoon. Tread lightly with anything accompanied by Hollandaise – the chef doesn’t. “BTP. Great sun trap.” - Dan Frawley (Final year LLB) »
DICTAadvice For those who are too good for Boulangerie there’s Pret A Manger. Good sandwiches, good baguettes, student discount. Need we say more?
“Magic roll. You can’t beat it after a night out and less grease than Donervan’s.” - Dan Frawley (Final year LLB)
Another conveniently placed purveyor of bread-based luncheon goods, Caffé Gusto is ideal for the more adventurous sandwich fan.
“Donervan’s remains close to my heart - literally - but Magic Roll’s various wrappy products are truly the foodstuffs of champions.” - Jack Moulder (2nd Year MA)
“Caffé Gusto opposite Wills. Cheap baguettes and you get a free pain au chocolat with a coffee in the morning!” - Emily Craxton (1st Year LLB)
Moving away from the Triangle area, the exceptional Arch House Deli makes some great sandwiches (and their cheese platter is incredible). For the true sandwich connoisseur. “They make the best sandwich with the freshest ingredients at a very reasonable price. My favourite is the ‘New Yorker’!” - Collin Cheong (1st year LLB)
5. Best place for a cheap meal
7. Best club Undeniably the Bristol lawyer’s club of choice, Lizard Lounge is pretty much inescapable. “Lounge....?” - Zach Tan (2nd Year LLB) “LOUNGE!” - Sarah Bratton (3rd Year LLB) “Lounge…just because.” - Jenny Cook (2nd Year LLB)
A popular first year’s choice, Bunker is always a staunch alternative to Lounge.
For those who are Northern, there’s Gregg’s. “It really saves time as you can grab and go with the hot sausage rolls.” - Zhiwen Teng (1st year MA)
“Bunker Mondays. Extremely standard but always an incredibly fun night.” - Anna Rainsford (1st Year LLB)
8. Morning Must-Have Hotcha gets you Chinese on the cheap. “Hotcha on Whiteladies Road (and there is one in the City Centre). I essentially call it the Chinese McDonalds. Cheap but nice food. They do a £4.95 lunch deal which includes a starter, a main and a drink. Not bad.” - Demi Pham (2nd Year LLB)
With a nice gastropub atmosphere, situated just off Whiteladies Road, The Hill has great stone-baked pizzas.
The all-important law student morning staple. Shockingly, we’ve gone for things laced with caffeine – tea and coffee. “This depends on the night before. If you haven’t done anything exciting, a latte from Starbucks with two shots of espresso. If you’ve been out the night before, a latte from Starbucks with 11 shots of espresso.” - Ross Burrell (Final Year LLB)
9. UBLC Social Event of the Year “The Hill, can’t beat 2-4-1 pizzas every Tuesday.” - Josh Carruthers (2nd year LLB)
Go to p.79 for a look at our run-down of the Law Club’s social calendar, but these are the law socials which our readers have rated most highly.
6. Best place to get midnight food A law student rite de passage, Jason Donnervan can be found at the bottom of Whiteladies Road every night, making post-club dreams come true. “Jason Donnervan- oh yes.” - Florence Anie-Akwetey (1st year LLB) “Jason Donnervan…obviously…” - John Smith (Final Year LLB) “Definitely Jason Donnervan. The perfect antidote to a late and weary night out.” - Nigel Bay (2nd year LLB) “Jason Donnervan – if our country was run as efficiently as this small metal box, we wouldn’t even need the word ‘recession’ in our vocabulary.” - Ross Burrell (Final Year LLB)
For those on the way back down Park St after their night out, Diamond Kebab provides a good alternative to Donnervan’s. The more discerning club goer’s choice, Magic Roll is located on the far side of the Triangle and is open until 12am Mon-Wed, 3am Thurs and 4am Fri-Sat.
The Law Balls – both Winter and Spring – have topped the list of law students’ favourite socials. A rare opportunity to look classy on a law night out (not to mention being heavily subsidised by our law firm sponsors) the Balls are not to be missed. Aside from the Balls, Lawyers v. Vedics is probably the biggest night of the law social calendar. Picture a cascade down Park Street of hundreds of lawyers, medics, dentists and vets to the O2 Academy finale. Like the Balls, attendance is mandatory. 10. Favourite Place to take Visitors to Because law students, by virtue of their choice of profession, are wildly unimaginative, Dicta has put together an article featuring 13 free attractions around Bristol to take your friends and family to on p.12. Sitting on the far side of Clifton Village, the spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge is a sight to behold. Chill out afterwards for a pint at the Mall pub nearby. Probably just the one though – Clifton Village pub prices are not the student-friendliest. Looming behind Berkeley Square, Brandon Hill Park offers a patch of serenity in an otherwise chaotic world. Check out Cabot Tower for a tall building dedicated to a bearded explorer. DICTA
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Cheap Eats for under £15 Just because you’re a law student, doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice dinner once in a while. Here is a list of restaurants Dicta found that provide set menus at more studentfriendly prices.
British The TownHouse Bar and Restaurant 85 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2NT | 0117 973 9302 Monday to Friday 12-7pm and Saturday 126pm Three-course meal for £10 Coal Grill and Bar Glass House, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BD | 0117 954 4624 Sunday to Friday 12-7pm Two-course meal for £8.95 Three-course meal for £10.95 Browns Restaurant & Bar 38 Queens Road, BS8 1RE | 0117930 4777 Sunday to Friday from 2-7pm Two-course meal and a drink for £10 The Kings Arms 168 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2XZ | 0117 973 5922 Daily 12-7pm Two courses for £10 Three courses for £13 Chin! Chin! Bar & Kitchen 155 St Michael’s Hill, BS2 8DB | 0117 973 9393 Monday to Wednesday evenings and Thursday to Sunday before 6:45/7pm ‘2 for 1’ main course deal if you both order a starter course (valid for tables of 6 or less) Steak and wine for £9.95
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The Cowshed Bar and Grill 46 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2NH | 0117 973 3550 Monday to Thursday from 6-7pm (table back by 7:30pm and max. party of 10) Steak or burger with chips and a glass of wine or a larger for £10. Delmonico 217 Gloucester Road, BS7 8NN | 0117 944 5673 Tuesday to Friday 5-7:30pm and Saturday 127pm Two-course meal for £11.95
Seafood Fishers Restaurant 35 Princess Victoria Street, BS8 4BX| 0117 974 7044 Daily 6-6:45pm (Vacate by 7:30pm) Two courses for £8.50 Three courses for £10.90 Rockfish Grill and Seafood Market 128 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2RS | 01179 737 384 Daily until 7pm Two courses for £12.50 Three courses for £15 French Côte Brasserie 27 The Mall, BS8 4JG | 0117 970 6779 Monday to Friday 12-7pm
Two-course meal for £9.95 Three-course meal for £11.90 Bistro La Barrique 225 Gloucester Road, BS7 8NR | 0117 944 5500 Monday to Friday 6-7pm and Saturday 11:30am-6pm Two ‘Petits Plats’ and one side dish for £11.95 Café Rouge 85 Park Street, B51 5PJ | 0117 929 2571 Unit SU 51A, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BD | 0117 954 4808 Daily from 5pm-late Two-course meal for £11.95 Brasserie Blanc Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, BS1 3DF | 01179 102 410 Monday to Saturday from 7pm Two-course meal for £14
Italian Planet Pizza 32 Cotham Hill, BS6 6LA | 0117 907 7112 187 Gloucester Road, BS7 8BG | 0117 944 4717 Monday to Friday until 6pm Any 9-inch pizza for £5, with a mini salad or mini chips for £2 Mondays and Tuesday all day and night Buy one get one free for any 12-inch pizza to eat in »
Don Giovanni’s 1-2 Victoria House, Temple Gate, BS1 6PW Monday to Friday 5-6:30pm (excluding December) Main course of pizza or pasta for £5.95 Monday to Friday 5-6:30pm Two courses for £7.95 Aqua Italia Restaurant and Bar Welsh Back, BS1 4RR | 0117 915 6060 153 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2RF | 0117 973 3314 Monday to Saturday 12-7pm Two-course meal for £10.95 Three-course meal for £12.95
European Goldbrick House 69 Park Street, BS1 5PB | 0117 945 1950 Monday to Saturday from 6-6:45pm Two-course meal for £10 Three-course meal for £13 The Botanist 20a Berkeley Square, BS8 1HP | 0117 927 7333 Monday all day and Tuesday to Friday 12-7pm Two courses for £11.95 Monday to Friday from 3-6pm Two pizzas for £10 Riverstation The Grove, Harbourside, BS1 4RB | 0117 914 4434 Monday to Friday 6-7:15pm Main course and a glass of wine, bottle of beer
or a soft drink for £10 Monday to Friday evenings Two-course meal for £14.75
Block, BS1 4DA | 0117 927 6088 Daily from 5:30-7pm Two-course meal for £9.95
Glassboat Restaurant Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SB | 0117 929 0704 Monday to Saturday 5:30-7pm Two-course for £15
For those looking for quantity, not quality:
Flavourz Restaurant and Bar 1-3 Colston Centre, Colston Avenue, BS1 4UB | 0117 376 3176 Monday to Thursday 5-11pm and Sunday 5-9:30pm Buffet dinner for £11.95 Friday to Saturday 5-11pm Buffet dinner for £13.95
Las Iguanas 113 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2PB | 0117 973 0730 Unit A, South Building, Anchor Square, BS1 5UH | 0117 927 6233 Daily until 6:30pm (not available at weekends at selected branches) Mains for £5, starters for £1.90 or £2.90, and soda for £1.50 or wine/beer for £2
Asian Bauhinia Bar Restaurant 5a Boyce’s Avenue, BS8 4AA | 0117 973 3138 Daily before 7pm Two-course meal for £8.90 Tampopo Glass House, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BX | 0117 927 7008 Daily 12-7pm Main dish and side dish for £8.95
Cosmo The Pavillion, 30 Triangle West, BS8 1ET | 0117 934 0995 Monday to Thursday 5:30-10:30pm and Sunday 12-10:30pm Buffet dinner for £12.99 Friday to Saturday 5:30-11pm Buffet dinner for £14.99 Za Za Bazaar Harbourside, BS1 5UH | 0117 922 0330 Monday to Thursday 5-11pm Buffet dinner for £14.99 Sunday all day Buffet for £12.99
Thai Edge Unit 4, Broad Quay, Ground Floor, South DICTA
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Words of Wisdom Leen Zaza reflects on her time at university and her endeavours since.
s young, wide-eyed freshers preparing to embark on a new educational adventure, we have all, undoubtedly, been in the situation where our loved ones shower us with goodbyes and advice to guide us through our upcoming university years. I still remember the various words of wisdom family members, neighbours, friends, and even friends-of-friends made available for my use and benefit before I left to study for my LLB, and later on my LLM, at the University of Bristol. These ranged from the caring (“make sure you get your five-a-day!”), to the informative (“heat escapes from the top of your head, so make sure you pack a warm hat!”), to the just plain weird (“make sure you stock up on cotton buds!”). Nevertheless, there was one thing that was said to me, in particular, which had remained lurking in the back of my mind: “make the most of your time at university, because that will be a very interesting time of your life; but afterwards, not so much.” Now, after spending four wonderful years at the University of Bristol, and almost six months after graduating from my LLM course, I can share my own, humble afterthought on the aforementioned advice: that last person was only half-right (and no, you do not need to stock up on cotton buds). The thing is, one reason which renders time spent at university ‘very interesting’ is the very same process I have just described above: from the very first day on campus, all the way through the late nights spent writing coursework essays—and up until that very last day at graduation when you step out of Wills clutching your shiny new degree—the people around you constantly guide you by placing various tips and tricks at your disposal. What you choose to do with such guidance is completely up to you; you are left to your own devices to consider either taking or completely ignoring it, and consequently, learning from your mistakes or successes. The bouillabaisse of people and experiences you are exposed to as a university student can lead to a range of opportunities being made available to you. Once you get that shiny degree, however, some of that may change. Of course, your tutors, friends, and family remain by your side with their abundant supply of advice; what differs is that you are in the driver seat. The guidance you receive now comes after you have taken a decision about your next step in life. Similarly, opportunities may no longer be readily presented for you to pick and choose from; rather, the onus becomes on you to go out and seek them yourself. What remains the same, however, is the importance of persistence and being pro-active in seeking such opportunities which you deserve. I am now working as a Trainee Associate at the associated office of Allen & Overy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the time I have spent work-
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ing as such has definitely been not any less interesting than when I was at university. I have experienced, first-hand, the typical corporate-lawyer complaints in relation to the tough working hours and tight deadlines; however, the learning curve is so steep, that it makes it all the more worthwhile. Practicing law, rather than approaching it from an academic dimension, provides a different feel and perspective of understanding on how a legal system operates. Business has become globalised to the extent that I find it utterly fascinating how much English law I find myself using whilst working on regional Middle-Eastern deals each day, and vice versa. I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been presented with, both during and after my time at university. Nevertheless, I also feel responsible for making sure that I make the most out of them – not least because I owe it to myself after the hard work I have been putting in over the past four years, as I am sure you have as well. As aptly summed by Kyoko Escamilla: “Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all aspects of you.” So, my own words of advice for future graduates? Be brave and make the most of your time, because it is what happens afterwards that can get very interesting. Leen is a former Bristol LLB and LLM student, and the previous Editor-in-Chief of Dicta. She is currently working as a Trainee Associate at Allen & Overy in Saudi Arabia.
In the Spotlight
Innocence Network UK
Ciara Corrigan explores the important role of Innocence Project contributors within the criminal justice system. “This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.”
o spoke the US Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. to a young lawyer demanding justice for his client. A century later, these words still epitomise popular criticisms of the law as a cold, mechanical discipline, unconcerned with whether the outcome of a case is right or just. In such a system, innocent victims of wrongful convictions may find themselves forgotten, with nowhere to turn and no one to hear their case. This is where the Innocence Project comes in. The Bristol Innocence Project is one branch of the Innocence Network UK (INUK), an organisation that was started by the University of Bristol in 2004. It has since grown to include Innocence Projects in over 30 universities and one corporate law firm. Their aim is simple: to investigate alleged cases of wrongful convictions and to generate reform within the criminal justice system, preventing such miscarriages of justice from reocccurring in the future. People who have been imprisoned for crimes that they claim they had no part in write to INUK. Eligible cases are then distributed amongst member universities for investigation. As an Innocence Project caseworker, I can attest to how working with the project has impacted my view of the legal system and those who work within it. Cases of wrongful convictions highlight the ugliest aspects of the legal profession. Too often, clients have been poorly represented by barristers who have failed to properly investigate the case, call in key witnesses, or bring to light crucial evidence that might
have affected the outcome of the trial. Most worrying is the domination of the prosecutor’s desire to get a conviction by any means, a phenomenon often spurred by their own egotistical ambition. As well as highlighting the failings of individuals within the system, working with the Innocence Project draws attention to shortcomings concerning the criminal justice process itself. Cuts in legal aid have threatened to leave the poorest defendants with the least competent lawyers and the convicted with no representation at all, let alone the in-depth investigation often needed to rectify historical miscarriages of justice. The structure of the CCRC means that it is much better designed to handle cases involving technical errors during court proceedings rather than cases of factual innocence. Clients who write to INUK do so as a last resort, having exhausted traditional routes of appeal with no success. Therefore, the organisation is the final opportunity for those who have slipped through the cracks of the system to have their plea heard. However, working with the Innocence Project also demonstrates that, although bad aspects of the legal profession certainly exist, there is also an overwhelming amount of good. In total, there are over 500 volunteers working on almost 100 cases in Innocence Projects across the UK. These volunteers are undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as professional lawyers who are willing to give up hours of their time to thoroughly and conclusively investigate claims of innocence. The value of such work was recognised last year when the University of Bristol Innocence Project received the Bristol Law Society’s 2012 Pro-Bono Award for the 2,000
hours they spent working on the case of Wullie Beck. The investigation of Mr Beck’s case even resulted in a successful application to the SCCRC who have referred his case to the Court of Appeal. This clearly demonstrates the powerful impact that pro-bono work can have on the legal system, and highlights the compassion and competence of many who are practicing and studying law. When asked how her work with Innocence Project has affected her view of the legal profession, Gabe Tan, Assistant Director of the Bristol Innocence Project, stated that: “Whilst there is always room for constructive criticisms, we should not condemn the profession but instead do whatever we can to support it, improve it, and ensure that it can continue to thrive.” This view represents the heart of the Innocence Project. By exposing the reality of wrongful convictions, INUK hopes to emanate a sense of commitment to honesty and pro bono work among students and the legal system as a whole. Innocence Project caseworkers are not naïve. It is inevitable that many of the claims of innocence which INUK receives would prove to be unfounded. Whilst the Project does not aspire to exonerate every individual who applies for help, it searches for the truth and lays cases to rest. Essentially, the Innocence Project aims to ensure that a court of law need not fail to deliver justice. Ciara Corrigan is a first-year LLB student and caseworker for the Bristol Innocence Project.
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A Brief History of the Law
I Legal Triumphs Qing Wu advances that the law permeates into almost every aspect of our lives in a societal and globalised context.
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n recent years, law school has faced much law cannot be a method to prevent crime, it criticism, as has the legal profession. Law does act as a deterrence to keep the majority students are stereotyped as anti-social geeks, of people from committing unlawful acts for while lawyers are seen as bloodsuckers of cli- fear of punishment. In lawless societies, it is ents’ money. This is not true! Yes, I would agree likely that ‘empathy’ will act as a replacement that not every person who becomes a lawyer for law. This does not amount to true justice comes into the profession with the right inten- as it is based on the subjective opinion of what tions. But the media has misguided society into others perceive as ‘suffering’. People who are focusing predominantly on the failures of law. skilled actors at getting sympathy can manipuIn practice, there are many lawyers who late their way into selfish desires. Empathy may are motivated to represent their clients, pro- be an ingredient within the makings of law, but tecting their legal rights. Law does not only it cannot replace the law. fight for certain individuals, but it also has imSo, how does English law protect the pact on society as a whole. As a friend once rights of its people? The Human Rights Act shared, “over the years as I read the news, I’ve 1998 is a classic example of how legislation in come to realise that law is incorthe UK serves to protect its “The law porated in our everyday lives, no citizens’ rights. It covers many matter who you are or where you permeates almost areas like the ‘right to life’ and are. It can be as simple as buying ‘freedom from torture’. It also every aspect of serves to protect rights of a train ticket to determining how the government uses its powers.” everyday life like ‘freedom of our lives.” The law permeates almost every expression’, ‘freedom of reliaspect of our lives. gion,’ and ‘right to education’. Law is also an Law is needed in order for a society to run evolving system: it learns from its mistakes and smoothly. Imagine living in a world without law! bridges gaps that were not discovered before. There would be no rules, no social order—and Historically, law may have been compartmenpeople would be unrestrained in deeds such as talised for each country. Now, with globalitheft, sexual assault, or murder. If people could zation, the law in one country may influence steal without punishment, then where would law elsewhere. A good example of this develthe incentive to work be? Surely, whilst mon- opment is how security law, especially aviation ey would become a devalued currency, people security, has changed and improved not only could simply take whatever they need. Without in the United States but also the wider world law, chaos will ensue and Darwin’s theory of since 9/11. ‘survival of the fittest’ would materialise as the Lastly, studying law is indeed challenging, only way a lawless society may function. People but don’t let that put you off! As a law stuwho are physically stronger would hold power dent, I find that sometimes the subject can be and dominate others as they like. stressful and difficult to grasp; however, given Take Somalia as an example. Since the its subject area is so diverse, it is also very interremoval of their government in 1991, the So- esting and stimulating. Law students not only malian population has not been governed by a gather knowledge about the law, but they also legal authority. Instead, different groups within understand more about the world in its comthe country had massacred one other for power mercial and socio-political contexts. Moreover, and control. The place is dangerous with many aspiring solicitors and barristers can specialise extremists and criminals who exist because in a wide range of niche practice areas such they know they will not be prosecuted. as criminal, media, family, civil, corporate, and “When people lack teachers, their tenden- more. To conclude: “Law is order, and good cies are not corrected; when they do not have law is good order.” – Aristotle. ritual and moral principles, their lawlessness is not controlled.” –Xun Zi. Qing is a first-year MA Law student from Hong Law exists as a set of rules to guide people Kong and caseworker for the Bristol’s Innocence on what is considered right or wrong. Although Project. »
o one could deny the flaws that exist in lect a favourable location to file a case with a our legal system no matter how much we view to obtaining a positive judgment. would like to believe in its infallibility. It is a sad 2. The ratification of the Constitution truth that no legal system is perfect; it is hard to 13th Amendment by the state of Mississippi on protect fairness, legality, and democracy when the 7th of February 2013 is a procedural failure social policy, governmental objectives, and po- that has led to a legal failure. Although Missislitical pressure interfere. sippi filed for ratification in 1995, it was not The following examples prove that some- formally filed with the Archivist of the United times the legal system fails. Both British and States. As such, it was not official. Rather than American examples are listed below, since the a failure of the American legal system, this inAmerican legal system is modelled after the stance marked a failure of its application. British common law system. 3. In recent years, the Nuremberg Trials The conviction of ‘the Birmingham Six’ have led to criticisms of procedural injustice who, in 1975, were sentenced to life imprison- leading to legal injustice. There are supporters ment for the pub bombings that killed 21 peo- arguing that there was a lack of clear jurisdicple and injured 182, is possibly one of the most tion. According to Robert Woetzel in The famous examples of a miscarriage of justice. In Nuremberg Trials in International Law, the 1991, the conviction was overturned after evi- ‘Acts of State’ doctrine provides that ‘individudence of police fabrication and suppressed ev- als cannot be prosecuted by a foreign governidence came to light. Although compensation ment for violations of international law which has been awarded and measures taken to guard they committed in exercise of official duties.’ against another miscarriage, this remains an in- Accordingly, it seems that the judges involved stance of failure in the British legal system. might have acted ultra vires. In doing so, they 1. Possibly the most famous acquittal in righted a wrong; but the carrying out of the trirecent years is People of the State Of Cali- als constituted a legal failure. This question was fornia v O.J. Simpson. Simpson, who was ac- raised in Konovov v. Lativa, where the dissentcused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown ing judgement held that the Nuremberg judgSimpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, was ment was contrary to Article 7 of the ECHR. found not guilty. The prosecution filed the case This judgment proved that, with hindsight, it downtown, rather than Santa Monica where is easier to reflect on how politics constantly the crime occurred. It sought to avoid the influence the scope of liability. political backlash that would accompany the It is clear that the results in the two casall-white jury which Santa es and the handling of the Monica would provide and “Once an individual Nuremberg Trials both possibly lead to an accusalegal failures, has been found not constituted tion of ‘forum shopping.’* despite efforts to ensure a guilty he cannot This arrangement led to a positive political outcome. jury consisting of 10/12 In his book, The Making of be retried for the members from an ethnic the English Working Class, same crime (Double E.P Thompson reflects on minority, which sparked accusations of racial factor the ‘enormous condescenJeopardy)” playing a role in jury-selecsion of posterity.’ Through tion. In 2007, Simpson published ‘If I Did It’ which, he refers to our tendency to judge those to describe the murder in such detail that it was who faced difficult predicaments with the akin a confession. However, the Fifth Amend- benefit of hindsight. It is easier now for us to ment of the United States Constitution (which criticise the results of the Nuremberg Trials as provides that once found not guilty, he could legally wrong, though many would argue that it not be retried for the same crime) means that was morally right. The law is not always perfect O.J. Simpson is walking free in many people’s (if at all): it is influenced by many factors. Howeyes. The concept just described is known as ever, by and large, the legal systems work and ‘Double Jeopardy.’ Whilst this Amendment is deliver as correct a result as legally possible. far from being a legal failure, it proves that no legal systems are infallible. Thus, occasionally, Rebecca is a first-year LLB Law student and casesuch inconsistencies arise and amount to legal worker for the Bristol Innocence Project. She is also failures. a member of the Bar Society and hopes to become an *A practice whereby the prosecution se- insurance law barrister.
Legal Failures Rebecca Atkinson argues that even the legal profession can learn from its own mistakes.
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The only fruit left in the basket?
Demi Pham assesses the likely impact of the infamous Apple case on information technology.
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pple’s products are everywhere. Just inspect any lecture theatre or library and they are essentially dynamic Apple adverts. With new models and fresh litigation each year, we begin to wonder whether a monopoly of innovative technology is being created. The recent Apple v Samsung saga throws this issue into sharp relief. Beginning in 2011, Apple launched a patent infringement claim in the US, arguing that Samsung’s Galaxy range copied a number of their features. This includes the screen icon appearance, pinching and tapping images and bounce-back effect. Samsung have denied such claims, purporting their designs to be legitimately developed based on their own extensive research. As a result, a bitter legal war has ensued between the two technology heavyweights concerning their design of smartphones and tablets. The outcomes of this titanic struggle have been inconsistent. The British, South Korean and Dutch jurisdictions all decided that there were no similarity between Apple’s products and Samsung’s apart from a couple of minor infringement patents found by the South Korean courts. In fact, Judge Birss in the British High Court even declared that Samsung Galaxy was not ‘cool’ enough to be similar to Apple. He therefore ordered Apple to make a media and website apology to Samsung repeating that there was no infringement. These rulings were in stark contrast to Germany, who held that there is a ‘clear impression of similarity’ between the two products and imposed a nationwide ban on the Galaxy 10.1. The US court concurred. A common theme between the European rulings was that these cases were decided by judges. This contrasts with America, where juries decide on the complex patent cases and here awarded the California-based Apple with over $1bn in damages after a three-day deliberation. Significantly, the American verdict was reached despite the fact that Apple submitted inaccurate evidence of so-called similarities between Samsung and Apple models. Apple successfully sought a ban of eight Samsung products. Only one of these has been overturned. However, the litigation did not stop there when allegations of jury misconduct emerged, prompting Samsung to call for a re-trial. Velvin Hogan, the US jury foreman, claimed that they had ignored instructions and awarded incorrect damages. Hogan’s in-
put is also feared to have been biased given that he was previously sued by his former employers, Seagate Technology, who also happen to be in a strategic relationship with Samsung. Therefore, it was hardly surprising when Samsung raised doubts as to the veracity of this finding; particularly after one juror claimed, post-trial, that Hogan had been extremely influential in their ruling due to his experience in the patent-technology industry. The findings of this re-trial are still being deliberated. Nonetheless, should the previous decision stand, we begin to wonder how it will affect the technology industry. Certainly, if the injunctions stand and Samsung products are being banned this will undoubtedly affect their suppliers. It is perhaps unsurprising that this outcome came as a shock to the technology market, particularly to handset manufacturers, researchers and product developers. Furthermore, some critics have argued this verdict will inhibit technology designs, as the use of, for instance, the pinching and tapping images function could lead to costly legal battles. Will there be a resultant block to technological innovation? Indeed, product developers may become unwilling to use seemingly new and promising ideas out of fear of infringing Apple’s patents. This can lead to a huge amount of bureaucracy through checks on protected patents. However, such a blockage will not end with the Apple-Samsung ruling. Apple has also immersed itself in other litigation with mobile phone giants such as HTC, Nokia and Motorola and it will be interesting to see how the technology market can develop in spite of this during the next five years. Nevertheless, it has alternatively been argued that such rulings may actually boost innovation. After all, if the competing brand giants cannot use Apple’s designs, there may be a greater push for alternative ideas to fill the gaping holes of the competitive technology market. One thing’s for sure, the technology market is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Through the on-going smartphone war, Apple grapples to maintain its place as a leading technology company. However, the question remains; will it become the only fruit in the handset technology basket? Watch this space.
“Samsung Galaxy is not ‘cool’ enough to be similar to Apple”
Demi is a second-year LLB Law student and the General Secretary of the UBLC 2012/13.
How to have an
Ethical Legal Career Lawyers are not often exalted for their ethics. TIMOTHY MANLEY explores how you can achieve an ethical career.
ow does a lawyer sleep at night? First, he lies on one side, and then on the other. Maybe you are like most of the law students I have met at ‘networking’ events whose sole goal in life is to land that dream job in a Magic Circle firm and retire at 45. On the other hand, you may be seeking a law degree to work pro bono, to fight injustice, to uphold human rights, to defend the children of the poor, and to punish the wrong doer. Maybe, like me, you want it all: a (financially) rewarding career in return for all your hard work, but also the ability to sleep at night. If the preponderance of jokes is anything to go by, lawyers do not have a great reputation for ethics and decency. Large commercial firms are perceived to be as unethical as the banks and multinationals they represent, using their ‘commercial awareness’ to maximise profit at the expense of everyone else. Obtaining ‘super-injunctions’ to cover celebrity philandering, mortgage re-possessions, and debt collection are not exactly a paradigm of an ethical career. Likewise, the ‘cab-rank’ rule at the bar, which obliges barristers to accept instructions from anyone, reinforces the idea that amoral lawyers will say anything so long as the price is right,
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with no care for the guilt or innocence, morality or immorality of their client. But how can you join an exciting profession of which you are proud to be a member? One way to ensure a rewarding ethical career is to work ‘in house’ for a non-profit organisation. Various campaign groups and charities employ lawyers in a diverse range of fields, including human rights, immigration, and international development. Naturally these roles are highly desirable and, accordingly, applications and interviews are competitive. An alternative is to work for an ethical law firm or chambers. However, what makes a firm ethical is clearly a matter of interpretation. Some firms or chambers specialise in environmental law, charity law, or human rights and civil liberties. Alternatively, despite swingeing cuts to legal aid, working in immigration, social security, employment or criminal defence can offer a challenging but gratifying chance to help people in real need to get access to justice. Other more conventional commercial firms have embraced ‘corporate social responsibility,’ a phrase you will find prominently on almost all law firms’ websites. For most firms this includes commitment to environmental measures and carbon reduc-
tion, a pro bono initiative, and, often, engagement with community projects or local charities. The cynic would argue this is more about good publicity and appeasing potential critics than a genuine commitment to ethical practice. Yet, whatever their motivation is, it cannot be denied that firms of all sizes are working towards becoming more ethical. Similarly, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board work hard to update and enforce their codes of conduct in an effort to uphold ethical and professional standards. In spite of this, if you truly want an ethical career you are going to have to make it yourself. You can eschew the commercial world and build a career working for or on behalf of non-profits. But, in reality, the commercial world is hard to ignore. Nor is any law career without moral and ethical challenges; such dilemmas are inherent to the profession. The onus is on you to act ethically in whatever area you work in and to challenge those practices and values which continue to give lawyers a bad reputation. Timothy Manley is a final-year MA Law student and his year’s student representative.
“One way to ensure a rewarding ethical career is to work ‘in house’ for a non-profit organisation.”
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The Long and Treacherous Road to Becoming a Barrister:
A Road not to be Ignored Eloise Pollard presents the advantages of pursuing a career at the Bar, expensive though it may be.
ould-be barristers are definitely underrepresented at Bristol. Countless law firms throw money at us, from prizes to balls, clothing to copious amounts of stationery, but the same cannot be said of the nation’s chambers: over one hundred in number. So, it is not surprising that many students do not even think about a career at the Bar. As an aspiring barrister, I think that this is a shame, as I truly believe that it is one of the most rewarding careers out there. Here are a few reasons why. 1. Nobody tells you what to do (well, within reason). You will not have someone looming over your desk telling you that you have to be in the next day at the crack of dawn. 2. Flexibility. This means that you can arrange when to take time off or when to have a late start. An obvious
benefit of this is the improvement for women or men with caring responsibilities for children. 3. You get a lot of responsibility very early on. In other words, unlike a career at a major City law firm, you will not be one of a thousand paper pushers’. 4. The variety of work. It could range from human rights violations to representing Premiership footballers and everywhere in between. 5. The money. It can be good. If you are lucky enough to get pupillage (which is the prospective barrister’s equivalent to a training contract) at a top set, the salary can be £60,000+ and after a few years of practice you have the potential to match your friends in the City.
However, whilst there are many perks of being a barrister, I recognise that there are some downsides which must be considered before commencing on the path to the Bar. 1. The money is not always that good. In your pupillage year the minimum wage is £12,000 a year. This is quite far off the £38,000 you would get in the City. In the early years of tenancy, payment can be very sporadic; not least because the lag between completing the work and receiving actual payment from the client can take some time. 2. Long hours, hard work. As with any legal job (particularly in the early years), you will be working very hard and for very long hours. 3. It is competitive; much more so than getting a training contract. »
DICTAcareers Roughly, for every nine students who become solicitors, only one will become a barrister. Having weighed these pros and cons, if you have decided that the Bar is for you, the next question will be how to go about it. For those of you at the start of this epic journey, here are my basic four steps to the barrister dream:
Step One: Pass your degree. This is perhaps more easily said than done! Unfortunately, a 2.1 classification is pretty much essential and, as always, a 1st is even better. However, if (like me) you do not have one, do not be disheartened; there are plenty of other ways to make up for it. Do not forget to choose modules that will not only allow you to boost your grades but will also support the areas of law you would like to pursue as a barrister.
Step Two: Demonstrate that you have an aptitude for a career at the bar and a desire to be a barrister. Build up skills and showcase aptitude through extra-curricular activities: mooting, debating, and participating in Bar Society events in particular. Work experience through marshalling, work shadowing, and mini-pupillages are a great way to demonstrate commitment to the profession. Even vacation schemes can help demonstrate that you know which careers you do not want to pursue!
Step Three: Take the BPTC. This is the vocational training that you need to take before you can commence pupillage, and it serves a similar function to the LPC. However, be warned; it is pricey. In London, providers charge upwards of £16,000
“Whilst the barrister route may not be as affluent as that to the City [law firm] taken by friends... we should not ignore it as a career prospect.”
so you should not commit light-heartedly. However, before you despair, there are plenty of funding opportunities available: the Inns of Court, several high street banks, and even some providers such as BPP can offer financial support for your BPTC year.
Step Four: Obtain pupillage. This is the formal training stage that you must complete before you can practice as a barrister. You will most likely apply during your BPTC year, but you can apply during third year. Unfortunately, in keeping with the previous steps, the recruitment process is tough - really tough. The Bar Standards Board estimates that only a quarter of students who complete the BPTC obtain pupillage. Ever. Once you are lucky enough to obtain pupillage, you then spend the year in chambers working alongside your supervisor. During the first six months of pupillage you are simply observing and assisting, whereas during the second six you can finally take your own instructions and start to act on your own. If you have completed this year satisfactorily and your chambers still like you, you will be offered a tenancy, and finally all your hard work will have paid off. To sum up, whilst the barrister route may not be as affluent as that to the City taken by friends, and many deterrent factors exist such as the ridiculous level of competition, we should not ignore it as a career prospect. Yes, it is a challenge. Yes, you will probably receive many rejection letters. Yes, you will probably cry at least once during the application season. However, if you are truly determined, you can succeed. It will be worthwhile as being a barrister is one of the most rewarding careers out there, with benefits like no others. Eloise Pollard is a second-year LLB Law student, the Vice President of the Bar Society 2013/14 and Vice Chair of the Spring Ball Committee 2013.
Work Experience Reflections
Mini-Pupillage Story Clement Fung offers an insider glimpse into his mini-pupillage at Temple Chambers in Hong Kong
his past summer, I spent two weeks goals for the future. This is where having with Paul Shieh SC at Temple good social skills will greatly benefit your Chambers in Hong Kong. Primarily, I learning experience. followed a human rights judicial review In the second week, he took me case he was working on which disputed to court where I witnessed masterful whether refugees in Hong Kong have a advocacy by my master and the opposconstitutional right to work. ing counsel, Michael Fordham, QC, of In the first week, I observed my Blackstone Chambers. In addition, durmaster prepare his skeleton argument for ing court recesses, I approached and chatthe court hearings. Since my workstation ted with one of the refugee applicants in was a conference attendance and his table adjacent to his “Mini-pupillages are personal sharing desk, it was intriguprovided me with a ing to observe the wonderful opportunities unique perspective way he conducted on the case. The TV to learn to relate his research: from show Suits warns personally with pulling out and flipnot to get emoping through nu- barristers in the comfort tionally attached to merous textbooks, your client, but I say of their own room.” case commentaries, knowing their story and statute books to humanizes the case. making frequent calls to his junior barrisIf you ever get a chance to attend a ter to discuss the validity or strength of a day-long court hearing, here’s a valuable point of law he hoped to argue. tip: bring a laptop and aim to type out Most importantly, I relished the op- every word spoken. Why? Well, firstly, portunity to ask him questions, whether you can re-read it later as a model script they were about legal issues or personal for advocacy, and - secondly, and more questions about his family or even the importantly - it prevents you from falling type of music he likes. Mini-pupillages asleep! I know it is hard to watch out are wonderful opportunities to learn to for all the law firm visiting opportunities relate personally with barristers in the during your intensive term-time study. comfort of their own room, unlike the But you should really take it up at least awkward setting of a drinks reception. once. So, don’t be shy and ask away. He kindly took me out to lunch where he shared Clement is a first-year MA Law student who with me his personal experiences, includ- took part in this year’s Herbert Smith Freeing his original motivations for studying hills mooting competition. He attends the law, how he secured a pupillage and ten- Lawyers Christian Fellowship, and aims to ancy, who his pupil masters were, and his join the bar in Hong Kong. »
A Visit to a Law Firm Tamara Mackay tells Dicta about her assessment day at a law firm.
alking into the law firm’s lobby I what you bring to a group: your insightam acutely aware of my own rac- ful ideas, your ability to keep your team ing thoughts. Have I prepared adequate- on track and organised, your support and ly? Am I dressed appropriately? What if I encouragement of your teammates and, can’t remember the name of that partner of course, your commercial awareness. I met at the Open Evening? What if I This last one is important regardless of can’t remember every detail of every what sort of law you want to practice. deal the Financial Times has ever written You should consider what your clients’ about? Okay. Relax; breathe. Remem- and firm’s current issues and future goals ber, you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t might be, and be able to contextualise already made a good impression on the these in a broader economic and sofirm: you just need to continue demon- cio-political framework, focused around strating why you are an amazing candi- what area(s) of law you’re interested in. date. This is also an opportunity to get to Be careful and pay attention to specific know the firm’s culture and decide if it details in any instructions you are given. feels like a good fit. So: you’ve made it through the day! Depending on what stage you’re at, What happens next? After giving yourthis may sound familiar, or you may be self a well-deserved break, take the time looking forward to an upcoming Open to reflect on how the day went and conor Assessment Day and are wondering sider what went well and what could have what to expect. Based gone better. Identify on my own experienc- “You should consider specific ways to tackes, while it varies from you would what your clients’ lelike areas firm to firm, there are to improve on. and firm’s current If you are unsuccessseveral activities that you can reasonably ful at this stage, you issues and future expect. Presentations will likely be able to goals might be.” about the firm, its get feedback on your history and goals, its performance. Listen clients and the work it engages in are carefully, ask about ways to improve, common, and a great opportunity to ask and thank them for their time. Compare questions and learn things about the firm this feedback to your own reflections that you can’t find on its website. Grad- and plan for improvement. If you are uate recruitment officers, partners, asso- successful, congratulations! If not, reciates or trainees may all give presenta- member that you’ve still had a valuable tions: tailor your questions accordingly. learning opportunity and next time you’ll You’ll also encounter a wide range make it further. of workshop activities, which may include negotiation exercises, making a Tamara is a first-year MA Law student who mock client pitch, or working through is pursuing research at the Human Rights the stages of a business deal. These can Implementation Centre. be great opportunities to demonstrate
Additional Tips For Applications to Law Firms It is also entirely possible that you’ll encounter psychometric tests, which generally you will be informed about it in advance. You may hear that you can’t prepare for these tests, but there are two ways in which you can. First, you can practise and improve on skills that they test. Memorising and regurgitating knowledge won’t help you here, but there is a wealth of practice material that will help you improve your reading comprehension, critical and logical analysis and problem solving. Student career services offices often have valuable resources, as does the internet. Practise these and give yourself shorter time limits than the tests allow for, and you will see improvement. Secondly, if you know exactly which test you will be taking, read the instructions through beforehand and summarise, in your own words, what each question type is asking you to do. This will help you better understand how to approach questions and save valuable test-taking time. If you are attending an Assessment Day you may also have an interview, likely with a partner or other member of the graduate recruitment team. While it is impossible to predict exactly what you will be asked, you can prepare yourself with a range of answers to draw upon. Make sure you’re able to articulately explain why you want the career path that you do, why you like their firm in particular, a recent deal or case specific to that firm, a news story or two in significant depth, and what you are studying. Ask questions that follow up on topics broached in your interview, and firm-specific questions that demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment. Remember your interviewer’s name and follow up with a thank-you note. Be unfailingly polite, enthusiastic and professional throughout the day. Remember that you are there because the firm wants you to be; do your best to be calm and confident rather than letting your nerves get the best of you (you don’t need to know the Financial Times cover-to-cover!).
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“Aren’t You Just a Perpetual Student?” Aaron Khan studied law at Bristol, where he was President of the UBLC 2009/10. He graduated top of his class and then attended the College of Europe in Bruges, Brussels where he did an LLM in European Law. He is now a Teaching Associate in Law. Here he provides an insider’s account of academia from the perspective of a junior academic.
he quote in this title is attributed to a former student of mine, who asked me this whilst quizzing me on why I decided to become an academic. In fairness, it probably says more about me than their perception of academia. I have been mistaken for a student on quite a few occasions during my time at Bristol. Perhaps, my favourite moment was turning up to invigilate an EU Law exam and being stopped by someone in a fluorescent jacket who told me that “students must wait outside until called by an invigilator”. However, this quote is also indicative of a number of myths surrounding academia. In this article, I will attempt to explain the role of an academic whilst outlining the reasons behind my career choice. I hope that my perspectives as a junior academic might inspire some of you to consider it as a possible career choice. »
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Why Academia? My primary reason for choosing to work in academia is that I really enjoy the process of thinking about the law. This may seem like a strange statement, but the opportunity to analyse how the law operates and how it might be improved is unique to academia. One of my professors transitioned from practice into academia and when I asked him why, he responded: “the problem with practice is that we were just moving from case to case. I was using the law, but I was never able to really think about it. For example, we never sat down after a case and said “hey, what did we learn from this? I missed analysing legal rules.” In addition, this career offers the opportunity to take your knowledge and convey it to others. Teaching students is a lot of fun.* We really enjoy it when you challenge your tutors, express your ideas, and debate with your peers. (*unless you are teaching students the morning after a pub crawl or law ball, in which case it is an exercise in keeping them awake!)
search profile, working alongside students in organising events, or helping to ensure that you have sufficient support in terms of career advice. The Benefits of a Career in Academia There are a number of benefits to a career in academia. As suggested above, the variety of this career is very appealing, as is the flexibility to pursue my interests. In the last year, I have taught a wide variety of students, presented a paper abroad, and participated in some fascinating debates on the future of legal education. Academia also offers opportunities to connect with practitioners. A number of my colleagues conduct research involving solicitors, barristers, and even litigants themselves. Furthermore, academics are seen as vital in helping judges understand and develop new legal principles. Some have even become judges themselves. For example, our Chancellor, Baroness Hale, started her legal career as an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester. Overall, academia is a fascinating and varied career that wields considerable influence over the legal profession. It is certainly not an easy path to follow, but this is no different to other legal jobs. If you really enjoy what you are doing, these problems become less significant.
“Academics are seen as vital to helping judges understand and develop new legal principles.”
What do Academics Actually Do? A question I am often asked is, “what do you actually do?” Let me start by correcting a myth: TV shows are awful at depicting academics. We do neither resemble the staff on Fresh Meat nor the cast of the Big Bang Theory, though you might be able to think of examples to the contrary… Broadly, the role of an academic covers three areas: teaching, research, and administration. You are already familiar with our teaching responsibilities, but our research role is something you experience intermittently. We conduct research in our specialist areas, which normally results in published works or conference presentations. Often, your tutors will be writing material at the cutting edge of their field, and will be able to impart this knowledge to you through their teaching. In terms of administration, our roles can be varied. We might be involved in formulating the Law School’s education policy, enhancing our overall re-
A Final Thought: In Defence of Your Choice This leads me to my final point. Many of you are at the stage where career choices are being made. My advice to you is this: choose the career path that you find inspiring and interesting, and complements your strengths. This is a decision you should make because you want to pursue a given path, not because you feel that you ought to do it. Take the time to experience different types of work and make an informed decision on the one that is right for you. I hope that this article might convince some of you to consider a career in legal academia.
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Power of the Voice in the Courtroom: The
An Insider’s Account Debbie Chatting, an International Voice Coach, specialising in Voice for Advocacy and Managing Director of Voice Synergy Limited, presents the benefits of vocal training for aspiring advocates.
ast year, I was inspired to visit the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, in order to gain first-hand knowledge of how the advocate’s voice was used in this most prestigious of legal forums in the land. The interior of law court number four was architecturally awe-inspiring, almost intimidating with its arching high ceilings of carved stone, raised platform at the front containing three wigged and robed Lords Justices of Appeal in ordinary with a large carving of the Lion and the Unicorn behind and ancient leather-bound books lining the walls to each side of them. I noted that one’s voice could bounce off the hard stone, be lost in the vaulted ceiling or simply fail to reach across the bar to the Judges. The barristers who speak here are experienced, seasoned advocates, used to a courtroom environment. This was an opportunity to observe the types of voice of those involved: their breath, posture and use of their voice and also to better understand the pressures of delivering the voice in this serious and formal environment. I also noted that this courtroom was redolent of a theatre. A sense of hushed anticipation just before the curtain rises and the three appeal judges enter the stage. The first barrister rose to his feet and addressed the judges, to be immediately interrupted by the senior judge, cupping his hand behind his ear and saying, ‘Your voice is too... or I’m deaf!’ This was the very first exchange of words and already the barrister had misjudged the power of his vocal delivery and undermined his own credibility. I listened attentively to this barrister’s voice and observed the accompanying body language. I observed a lack of breath support, tension in his neck, little chest resonance and although I heard a good variety of tone, the full range was far from being utilised. Furthermore, his tone was not confident and he didn’t appear to believe in what he was saying. A positive pitch would help credibility, I thought. As the case continued, the opportunities to present an interesting delivery were lost again and again. It was not long before the senior appeal Judge again cupped his hand behind his ear and demanded, “Not all were...?” as the barrister had again failed to provide enough breath support to carry »
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his voice to the judicial bench. The judge appeared irritated by the barrister’s soft voice and slightly defensive tone. The next advocate opened her case with a great deal of hesitation in her voice before her words were then expelled in a rush, resulting in too fast delivery, poor clarity and again, a lack of comprehension by the Judges. At this point, I arrived at the notion that judges should be asked for their opinion of barristers’ voices in a courtroom situation and duly interviewed a High Court Judge, a Circuit Judge and a District Judge. Their views bore out my concerns that many skilled advocates, professional speakers, were not adequately prepared in their vocal training for effective speaking in a courtroom. I decided to develop a bespoke voice training course, using the City Law School’s Advocacy Manual as a basis for content, and filled my course with students on the Bar Professional Training Course. Students’ confidence rose dramatically as the opportunities to practice stance, supportive breathing and status were embraced. Students arrive at law school with a variety of competencies. Quality of their ‘voice’ is not ‘judged’ until advocacy,
debating and mooting competitions ensue. Those fortunate enough to have had specific training or experience do well, but without specialist training and support, it is regrettable fact that some potential advocates will not reach their vocal potential. This means that their chances of securing a pupillage are reduced, at the very least. So how can this be helped? There are plenty of books on Public Speaking and plenty of helpful websites offering guidance. But if you would like individual and bespoke voice coaching to enhance your career, seek out a specialist voice coach. They can help you with accent softening, with effective patterns of speech, breath support and clear articulation. All these techniques securely underpin the confidence in your voice so that you can direct your attention to articulating the argument in hand without attracting the unwelcome attention of the judge or your client. Like an actor on the stage, your task is to communicate with your audience without them even noticing your voice and to speak with confidence, clarity and poise. For more information, email email@example.com or go to www.voicesynergy.co.uk for more information.
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Career Event Highlights
Dicta looks back on this year’s Champagne & Chocolate Social and the UBLC’s first ever Careers Dinner.
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Lawyers be above the Profit Motive?
Sahar Shah defends the idea that law does constitute business - but is no less moral in doing so.
won’t feign ignorance about why lawyers are universally hated. After all, we do all of the following (on hopefully separate occasions): send people to jail, do everything in our power to ensure that guilty people run free, lie compulsively, sue people and cheat injured people out of compensation. However, just as Hannibal advised us in The Silence of the Lambs: serial killers are not born evil: they are a product of their environments. Similarly, lawyers are not bad—they are a product of the systems within which they operate. We shouldn’t hate the player—we should hate the game. And it’s a vicious one that lawyers play. I will try to set forth two general arguments in this article: 1. Lawyers deserve their pay. 2. Lawyers are not above the profit motive—and shouldn’t be. For the most part, young people today (or at the very least, those you would find on university campuses) don’t buy into an Atlas Shrugged mentality (mainly because it seems so Thatcher-friendly)—we don’t value talent above all else in the workplace. However, the general principle we tend to follow in the UK (and the instinctive way we seem to feel about income) is that the fewer people that can do a certain job, the higher the salary for that job should be. Higher salaried jobs pay well in order to attract the best possible people to the job. Across the board, lawyers are not notoriously well-paid in comparison with other high paying jobs. Legal professionals earn, on average £70,731 per year, earning less than production managers, marketing and sales directors and aircraft pilots (among others). This money, I believe, is well deserved. The legal occupation is a difficult one—they work long hours and perform intellectually challenging and immensely stressful tasks each day. They also perform an essential function of society: upholding the tenets of justice, as set forth by our Government and legal system. In fact, I will go so far as to argue that some types of lawyers—criminal defence and legal aid lawyers in particular—are not paid enough. And here we notice the negative consequences of lawyers being paid insufficient salaries—for instance, the number of wrongful convictions per year is far higher than it needs to be. Defence lawyers lack the resources to do their jobs properly and at the end of the day—money motivates. Defence lawyers have the best of intentions, but at the end of the day, are only human—it is difficult to be persuaded to put in all the extra hours necessary to make a solid case whilst being paid poorly. In every court case, a lawyer plays the hero and the other has to play the devil—each must do everything in their power to win. Lawyers essentially carry out an ‘evil’ made necessary by our legal system. They do society’s moral dirty work—which is noble, really. But somewhere along
the line, somebody coined the popular catchphrase used by anti-lawyers everywhere: “They only want your money”. It seems like a bizarre form of criticism. So do grocery store owners, pet shop clerks, car salesmen, farmers and essentially anybody with a job. However, supposedly, there is an element of hypocrisy inherent to this issue: lawyers are supposed to be doing good in the world. So why are they devoting their time and efforts to making money and turning a profit? To put it quite simply: because they have to. Lawyers—like medical professionals—provide a basic service to the public but unlike medics, for the most part, they don’t have the luxury of public funding. The medical and legal professions are too inherently dissimilar to be compared and I don’t want to complain that the lawyers are getting unfairly picked on while the doctors aren’t, but—they are. They don’t have the famed job security that protects doctors, nor do they have a guaranteed income ordained by the government. In other words, they are like any other working professionals—so why is it so outrageous that ‘they just want our money’? The system forces them to become businesspeople, for all intents and purposes. They do good and necessary work, but at the end of the day, they expect to be paid for it. And due to the difficulties inherent to the job, it is not contemptible for them to expect to be paid well for it. Most lawyers, I will go out on a limb to say, begin with the best of intentions—it takes more than the promise of money to motivate you to endure years of a law school diet, and the several years of training that follow it. However, the rat race that they find themselves in after law school is hardly any fault of their own. And after years of gruelling hard work, and quite a lot of debt: what would you do? Why should lawyers settle for subpar pay? As outlined above—they deserve their pay, but in many situations (i.e. lawyers in private practice), there is no overhead or external board guaranteeing this income—they must secure it for themselves. It’s time we acknowledged a simple truth—lawyers are an indispensable part of Western society. We can’t simply ‘kill all the lawyers’ as Shakespeare suggested—we need them. We need the law and therefore we need those that dedicate their lives to studying it and carrying out its various functions. And if the government does not fund the incomes of these people (and the path to becoming one of these people is—justifiably—difficult), then doesn’t it stand to reason that they should be allowed to pursue money without fear of being reprimanded on moral grounds? Perhaps ‘doing good’ and ‘making as much money as possible’ are not incompatible aspirations. Sahar is a second-year LLB Law student, and caseworker at the University of Bristol Law Clinic and Innocence Network UK.
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Defence of Defence Lawyers: In
Should We Defend Mass Murderers? Alexander Chau highlights the crucial role played by lawyers in defending criminals. Not only are they facilitating the legal process, he says - but they are also the individuals actively enforcing it.
arlier this year, the captured spokesman for Osama bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was hauled before a U.S. District Court in New York for conspiring to kill Americans. He, being a fanatical leader in Al-Qaedaâ€™s highest circles, unsurprisingly pleaded not guilty. Since 2001, however, a series of propaganda videos have shown that Abu Ghaith is, without any doubt, guilty of conspiracy. History will, more likely than not, tell us that President Obama did the wrong thing when he chose not to interrogate Abu Ghaith at Guantanamo Bay (with or without enhanced techniques). However, the fact of the matter is that this particular terrorist has been handed the right to a fair trial by the United States on a silver platter; a right that is regrettably, though certainly, inalienable. This is a perfect example of where, despite the obvious guilt of a defendant, a lawyer must fulfil his legal duty in defending criminals. Âť
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Our modern criminal justice system gives those of us who commit crimes, whether they’re misdemeanours or serial killings, a fair and speedy trial with all the benefits of “due process of law”. This way of thinking recognizes that the liberty of an individual is sacrosanct and, in the end, the principle that gives us the power to live a free life. In order to protect that liberty, our laws make it so that an accuser must go far beyond the court of public opinion; they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed a crime. Some, however, think that this system is a waste of time when it comes to terrorists like Abu Ghaith. How can you justify defending a known killer who has been a member of Al-Qaeda since the very beginning (with irrefutable evidence to boot)? The answer of the defence lawyer must be this: In defending a clearly guilty person, we are enforcing the law. In a roundabout way, our legal system doesn’t actually seek to administer ‘justice’. Rather, the law empowers judges and juries to take away the liberty of individuals that they believe to be guilty of a crime based on the evidence. Bills of attainder, issued by legislatures to unilaterally ‘name’ someone guilty, have long been abolished. We now look at the legal process to see whether a criminal is really guilty. The defence lawyer, by fighting for the defendant’s interest, exists to make sure that any determination of guilt or innocence in law reflects reality. It’s the law that tells them to explicitly act as a counter-weight to the prosecutor’s accusations in the courtroom, so that the court can know whether to take away a defendant’s rights. We lawyers like to say that defence lawyers are an absolutely crucial cog in the machinery of justice. There are lots reasons for this: A vain hope in the moral character of the courts, our need for a job, but most of all, a reflection of the public’s expectations that all of the accused will be heard fairly. Despite all of this,
however, the fact is that defence lawyers are not actually trying to ensure the delivery of any sort of justice. They’re simply here to do everything they can do to try to establish and maintain the innocence of their clients. By doing this, the defence lawyer contributes to the legal process, regardless of the end result. So, if someone has been found guilty, we can accurately say that their defence lawyer has contributed to their own conviction! The fine line between justice and procedural demands of the law can be best seen in another example: the acquittal of Casey Anthony, a mother that a majority of Americans believe to have killed her daughter, Caylee. Let’s assume that, for argument’s sake, that Anthony did in fact murder Caylee. Her defence lawyer, given the legal duty of fighting for Anthony’s innocence, would have fulfilled it according to the requirements of the law, but she would still be guilty on the facts and would have gone free. In the eyes of public opinion, this is a serious “miscarriage of justice”. However, the law’s position must be this: It was legally correct and, beyond that, it was right that Anthony has been called innocent and been treated as such. The defence lawyer’s reason for defending heinous criminals is that, while they might not owe their guilty clients any moral duty, they owe a duty to the law to make the legal process work. For any attorney to do otherwise would be to let a defendant (guilty or not) escape the rigours of due process and would render the law unenforced.
“In defending a clearly guilty person, we are enforcing the law.”
Alexander is a second-year LLB Law student and an aspiring academic in political science. He writes on all things polemically and digitally inclined, and can be found on Twitter @ahkc
Have Your Say
Jan Zeber explores the progress made by activist shareholders in recent years, questioning the extent to which City law firms should participate in the process.
n activist shareholder is, according to Investopedia, ‘a person who attempts to use his or her rights as a shareholder of a publicly-traded corporation to bring about social change’. However, this is not strictly true because, whilst the practice started in 1970s with Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of religious investors with an aim of lobbying for socially responsible changes, these days most activist investors push for governance changes they think will benefit the company. In practice, this means either ‘proxy contests’ – campaigns by dissident shareholders at AGM’s to achieve their desired resolutions (often amounting to replacement of undesirable directors) – or other forms of in-house wrangling. Sounds pretty complicated; better send in the lawyers. Occasionally we do get big charitable organisations like The Humane Society aggressively purchasing shares in major fast food chains in order to lobby for higher standards of
animal treatment. But two prominent activists, in US based companies. Carl Icahn and David Einhorn, lead so called But that does not mean that UK firms ‘activist hedge-funds’ trying to push for various should stop paying attention, especially in the changes in hope of improving the company’s face of constant frustration at big bonuses. market value. This was evident last month when Last year, Aviva Group CEO Andrew Moss was Einhorn sued Apple in an attempt to force the forced to resign after an embarrassing defeat on company to redistribute the $137bn it’s current- executive pay at the company’s 2012 AGM. The ly sitting on, as dividends and former Trinity Mirror Group, investments, calling Apple’s “It’s about levelling the publisher of the Daily monetary policy “depression the playing field, and Mirror and CEO Sly Bailey era mentality”. also resigned straight after the ensuring the fight is AGM, when the shareholder’s Regardless of motives, this is an untapped market for fair, or at the very discontent became too much legal services. Only one US to conceal. Though it may least, legal.” firm, Olshan, has an ‘activist seem like a company political practice’ specialised in navigating an unwelcom- power struggle, legal advice is never a bad idea, ing landscape of proxy rules and assessments and that goes for both sides. of company governance profiles, identifying Investors are becoming more and more opportunities for change. The UK remains un- frustrated, and are demanding their voice to be occupied, primarily due to the fact that activist heard. Shareholder associations started to spring investing is still a primarily US phenomenon, up in the UK (something along the lines of ‘inwith 60% of contested proxy votes taking place vestor trade unions’), the largest of which is » DICTA
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the UK Individual Shareholder Society, or ‘ShareSoc’, which aims to empower individuals against intimidating Boards. The recently created internet start-up ‘Moxy Vote’, a service which optimises shareholder activism by making it easy to vote, is proving to be a hit with investors. A notable victory was their success in blocking Google’s acquisition of On2 Technologies. This occurred when On2’s investors were angered by the director’s acceptance of what they perceived to be too low an offer. However, ShareSoc has 2,500 members and whilst it’s involved in an impressive array of activities – such as blocking Premier Oil’s £4m CEO pay package – its contribution is relatively minor when compared to similar Continental Europe organisations like Swedish Shareholder Association (70,000 members) or Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz (25,000 members). The chairman of ShareSoc, Roger Lawson, suggested in his interview with The Independent that a key issue is the lack of a complaint culture in the UK and the perception that to challenge directors would be ‘bad form’. The City legal sector should take advantage. Impoverished individual investors and their ‘societies’ may not seem like a lucrative market right now, but it’s a matter of time before a British
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Carl Icahn emerges, with plenty of cash to spend on making sure his campaign is successful. This has been evidenced by the recent ICAEW report on shareholder activism in the UK and the relative publicity it claimed, notably in Linklaters’ UK Corporate Update newsletter. Besides, where there is no money, there is reputation. Pro bono aid of an activist foundation investing in Coca Cola to try and get it to stop buying their water from Africa would generate much needed kudos for the City law firms. Not to mention that getting involved does not necessarily mean helping the activists: I’m sure the boards would be inclined to turn to the legal sector for some help in seeing off these pesky proxies challenging their bonuses. Activist practice shouldn’t be just about providing a supply to the demand though. It’s not about which side is in the right. At the end of the day, it’s about levelling the playing field, and ensuring the fight is fair, or at the very least, legal. That’s what we do. Jan is a second-year LLB Law student, the President of the Freedom Society 2013/14 and the Third Year Representative for the UBLC 2013/14. He writes about the things he reads, for others to write about.
Legal Aid in Austerity Britain Jon Walters assesses the potential impacts of legal aid cuts on the British legal system.
A Legal Rolls Royce?
as legal aid become exorbitant? Not if we It would appear that the current rhetoric on value justice. this topic has been shifting the focus away from The bedrock of our criminal justice system legal aid’s original aims: changing the vocabulary is the presumption of innocence. This is a pre- of the debate from necessity to excess. Chris sumption which, for many of the poorest, can Grayling has made extensive statements on this only be defended through the provision of legal subject since replacing Ken Clarke as Secretary aid. To argue for the presumption of innocence of State for Justice. He compared the criminal is to say that a party has a right to a fair trial defence counsel provided under legal aid as the before a court of law. Therefore, legal aid must ‘legal Rolls Royce’ we just cannot afford in the be recognised as the primary mode by which the current climate, adding that junior barristers criminal justice system attempts to redress the would be able to do the job ‘equally as well’ for ‘David and Goliath’ courtroom battle between a much reduced fee. In a time of austerity, he the rich and the poor. argued, departments must look for the cheaper The social value of lawyers working in legal option in assigning legal defence. aid is undisputed; working on shoestring budgThis is all very well for minor cases but ets to provide representation what about the serious crimes? and legal protection to some Can we trust an inexperienced “Changing the of the most vulnerable in our barrister with a complex murvocabulary of society. der trial? To draw analogy with From housing law to immedicine: we would be perthe debate from migration, to criminal and defhappy allowing a junior necessity to excess” fectly amation claims, the grounds doctor to stitch an arm, but for Government-assisted adwould we be quite so willing to vocacy have grown inexorably since the found- rely on their expertise for a heart bypass? These ing Legal Aid Act 1949. Despite this, the Legal unanswered questions plague the reforms which Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders were rushed through against a background of Act came into effect last year, cutting £350 Government austerity. million from the £2.1 billion legal aid budget Additionally, the problem is exacerbated in order to squeeze this group for every scrap by a negative perception of the legal profesof money possible. Is this policy attempting to sion. Self interest, it is often perceived, leads to draw blood from a stone? And can we justify lawyers chronically overcharging for their work, this in a society of soaring legal costs and in- and passing this cost-burden on to the client; in creasing litigation culture? this case the state. For legislators, an hour with
a Queens Counsel is not the most efficient way of spending £750. It is this attitude which legal aid lawyers need to counter if legal aid is to be protected. Community associations such as the Avon and Bristol Law Centre have campaigned tenaciously against the change in law, arguing that it ‘removes the safety net of legal aid for thousands of the most vulnerable’. It is this voice which is often lost in the debate, where the value of legal aid is most felt by the general public who need greater recognition. Furthermore, Grayling’s arguments have gained credence in the press due to the high public expense of a small number of high profile cases. The likes of Asil Nadir, a disgraced businessman who used over £1m of legal aid money to mount an unsuccessful defence to a £25m fraud, heightened questions of how such drainage of public funding could be deemed reasonable. Therefore, the problem for officials is the challenge of reconciling disparate aims: justice on one hand, and frugality on the other. This begs the question, what is the price of justice? Can a legal Rolls Royce be seamlessly replaced with a legal Ford Pinto? Or will this lead to devastating results for those who have to rely on legal aid? Only time will tell. Jon is a second-year LLB Law student and volunteer at South Manchester Law Centre.
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Emma Vincent Miller argues that justice is a non-negotiable necessity - even in the face of austerity.
legal aid cuts damage access to justice?
n December 2011 the Rolls Building opened its doors and in doing so cemented London’s position at the heart of the global legal services market. Costing £300 million, this was a state-of-the-art Court complex unlike any other. A stomping ground for Forbes list regulars where specialist judges preside over the financial disputes of the super-rich. The inaugural case, between Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Premier League football club owner Roman Abramovich didn’t disappoint. The commercial law boom has not, however, been enjoyed by all legal service providers. Smaller high street firms are facing tough times ahead due to sweeping cuts in civil Legal Aid, which come into force in April. These will be the most dramatic cuts our legal aid system has ever seen. Currently funding is available to all those who come under a certain income bracket, but the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will deny many the legal advice to which they would previously have been entitled. According to the Ministry of Justice, “at more than £2.1bn per year, we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world, which in the current financial climate we just cannot continue to afford”. However, maybe this is a price worth paying in order to ensure access to justice and maintain the reputation of the English justice system as being one of the fairest in the world. What is being cut? The Government is removing funding from areas of civil law, including clinical negligence and personal injury along with employment law, housing law and benefit issues. Advice in immigration cases where the person is not detained will also be removed. Parties in private family law cases such as divorce will no longer receive funding except those with a history of domestic violence. This will require documentary evidence of the violence in the form of, say, a Police caution, GP medical record or letter from social services. When victims don’t feel able to report the abuse, a fairly common scenario, they will be trapped in a violent relationship without access to the courts. The reduction in legal aid hits the most vulnerable at a time of welfare cuts to housing benefit and council tax benefit. Poor people are more likely to need legal advice on divorce, separation issues and, indeed, social security law. Furthermore, there are doubts over whether legal aid cuts will actually work out cheaper in the long run. Informed legal advice can nip cases in the bud, avoiding expensive court hearings and research by Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) found every pound spent on early advice saves
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roughly £9 later down the line. The Justice Gap Access to justice is often touted as a key component of that elusive concept the ‘Rule of Law’ and is a key constitutional principle. This doesn’t necessarily mean a right to a lawyer, but “making law less complex and more intelligible” (Tom Bingham). Legal aid cuts would perhaps be feasible if English law was easy to understand – but any law student knows this isn’t the case. The adversarial common law system is heavily reliant on the parties preparing and presenting. In a system designed to be negotiated by legal professionals removing lawyers from the equation creates a problem. This will lead to a rise is self-representation, a daunting task for those without legal education, not to mention those with poor literacy or grasp of English.
Changing the Legal Landscape Questions about access to justice aside, one thing that’s clear is that legal services will change as a result of the reform. This will mean increased pressure on free legal advice providers such as Law Centres and CAB and there will be a greater demand for ‘no win no fee’ lawyering. Pro bono work by other legal professionals could help to fill the gap, but this would first require a large expansion in the service. The New York State Bar Association have recently made pro bono work for prospective barristers compulsory due to a rise in citizens representing themselves in court – although this seems a drastic step to take when such services are in theory voluntary. “Justice in the UK is open to all, like The Ritz Hotel” Access to law will always be, to some degree, a matter of money: of who can afford the best lawyers. The idea that we are all equal in the eyes of the law, be you prince or pauper or indeed Russian oligarch has therefore always been somewhat of a platitude. Yet as of April this year, this maxim will ring truer than ever. Short-term monetary gains will not outweigh the harm legal aid cuts will do to access to justice. Emma is a second-year LLB Law student, an MP Lobbyist on the Amnesty International Society committee 2012/13 and campus representative for the Mike Campbell Foundation 2012/13.
A Biographical Sketch of
Mr Simon Baughen Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law for several years before joining the law school in 1989. He was made a Reader in 2006. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law, but also include the law of trusts and the environmental law implications of the activities of multinational corporations in the developing world. What motivated you to specialise in Shipping Law?
the Law School without a doctorate, although when I joined very few of us had one. I wear this absence with pride as it shows that I have worked in practice before coming to chill out in the cooler groves of academe. I may not be able to critique Harbermaas, but I know how law and lawyers work in the real world.
Nothing, I fell into this area of law by accident. At the end of my first six months’ common law pupillage in London I decided I did not want to be a criminal lawyer so I contacted a friend’s boyfriend who was a Chancery barrister to see if I could get a pupillage in his chambers. There were no vacancies at the “I wear this absence [of a In regards to the environmental implications of time but he then redirected me to a friend in a corporate activities, how can lawdoctorate] with pride as it multinational set of shipping chambers and I did six months yers make an ethical or social contribution? shows that I have worked there and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t get a tenancy and didn’t want to hang around doing another six in practice before coming to I think change can come about by suing the months’ pupillage so I took a job with the Lonbastards. Voluntary codes of conduct seem like don P&I Club advising on legal issues relating to chill out in the cooler groves window-dressing to me. A recent significant case shipowners’ liabilities. has been the Court of Appeal’s decision in Chanof academe.” Five years later I then moved to a firm of dler v. Cape PLC, No.  EWCA Civ 525, in shipping solicitors. One of the big cases I was involved in (on the losing which a parent company was held to owe a direct duty of care to employside) was The Captain Panagos DP, a mysterious scuttling case which went ees of its subsidiary, by reason of its active involvement in the activities to the Court of Appeal. I have since worked out the inside story behind of the subsidiary. It wouldn’t work, however, in a situation like that which it, but that’s my secret. occurred in the Bhopal disaster, where the parent company had no such I joined the Law School in 1989. I am one of the few academics in active involvement. »
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DICTAeducation Which aspect of the legal profession do you think requires defence against public misconception? One effect of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) will be to restrict recovery of fees and costs available to human rights plaintiffs as of April 1, 2013. The one UK firm involved in this type of action is Leigh Day. Their funding model is based on the ability to recover from defendants’ full legal costs, success fees, and litigation insurance premiums (which protected plaintiffs against the risk of covering a victorious defendant’s costs). LASPO has generally eliminated the recovery of success fees and insurance premiums while limiting cost recovery to “proportionate” costs. In addition the Rome II Regulation means that damages, for injuries incurred after 11 January 2009, must be calculated under the law of the nation were the injury occurred. These will generally be lower than those awarded under English law, as the lex fori. In ‘Learning the Law,’ Glanville Williams argued, “Law is the cement of society and also an essential medium of change. Knowledge of law increases one’s understanding of public affairs. Its study promotes accuracy of expression, facility in argument, and skill in interpreting the written word, as well as some understanding of social values.” Is this an accurate reflection of the study of law? I entirely agree with what Glanville Williams has written. I am a great fan of ‘Learning the Law’ and would recommend it to anyone about to embark on the study of law. How has the structure and substance of UK legal education changed since your days at Brasenose College, Oxford? I think what has changed is that there is a huge array of optional units on offer. Also, when I went up in ‘73 the UK had only just joined the Common Market, as it then was. EU Law is very prominent now but hardly featured then. I believe the Oxford system of tutorials is still intact. There were two in a group and we took turns to read our essays which then formed the basis for discussion. The non-reading person would hand in their essay to be marked and returned at the next tutorial. One notable feature of my BNC education is that it was all-male. BNC went coeducational in my second year - too late for me to feel the benefit. What are your current research projects? Completing a book, ‘Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs. Closing the Governance Gap.’ This will be completed over the next year when I shall be on research leave. As the M.A. Law Director, what is your vision for the future of the programme? To continue to provide a stimulating academic postgraduate law programme which enables students to get jobs in the practice of law in the UK. At the end of this academic year I shall be handing over the baton to A.N. Other whom I am sure will carry on the good work. What do you find most endearing about your time at Bristol University? The number of students who refer to me as ‘Professor.’ A case of ‘equity regards as done that which ought to be done,’ I think.
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Legal Education and its place in Contemporary Society A
Ioannis Mikroulis advocates the importance of legal scholarship in contemporary culture.
t is commonly recognized that a law degree has a dual purpose. The first is to provide a liberal education, i.e. the transferable skills, broad knowledge and critical thinking that make for the development of inquisitive minds and responsible citizens; the second is to prepare students wishing to become lawyers for an effective transition into the practice of law. This duality of purpose raises two important questions: does the LLB fulfil the criteria of academic education and what is the benefit of receiving a legal education in terms of one’s contribution to modern society and democracy? Since postgraduate training is required before one is able to practise as a lawyer, the LLB is first and foremost an academic qualification. So, given that the degree is meant to provide a foundation of skills and competencies shared across many disciplines and that a significant proportion of students undertake the degree for purposes other than qualifying as a
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legal professional, it is only right that the Advisory Committee on Legal Education Conduct in its 1996 report recommended that an “independent liberal education in the discipline of law, not tied to any specific vocation” should be retained. The LLB excels in that regard: embarking on a law degree is a challenging experience that requires the development of wide range of skills, focusing particularly on analytical ability, precision of thought, and capacity for succinct and effective written and oral communication. Studying for the LLB involves frequent evaluation of complex arguments and established legal principles, urging students to engage in critical analysis and discussion of the theoretical issues underpinning the law, and even explore multi-disciplinary approaches to legal study. Overall, there is no doubt that the academic element of the degree is broad enough and sufficiently demanding to serve as an excellent foundation for further study or work in a wide range of legal and non-legal areas. »
In answering the second question, we should bear in mind that in recent years economic, technological and medical advancements have elevated Western standards of living to an unprecedented level. People in the Western world lead longer and healthier lives in conditions of relative affluence that have allowed for increased consumption and leisure time. At the same time, however, the strong emphasis on personal happiness and individual wants and needs, as fostered by modern consumerism, has contributed to the disintegration of traditional community values, the gradual erosion of the nuclear family and to increased mobility and uncertainty. What is more, access to desensitising content such as pornography, violent video games and dehumanizing reality TV shows has helped create a sense of alienation and lack of empathy, while the threat of terrorism has led to individual freedoms depreciating against an enhanced perception of security. Within this environment, one is reminded of the work of Hannah Arendt, who in her reporting of the Adolf Eichmann Trial, posited that acts of evil are not executed only by sociopaths, but also by ordinary citizens who submit to authority and give in to group mentality without exercising critical thinking. Contrary to that, a legal education, with its emphasis on critical analysis and legal theory, empowers individuals to question ideology and the validity of inhumane laws, and in doing so can help prevent a repeat of the horrors that marked the twentieth century. The need for a heightened understanding of the role law plays in society becomes apparent whenever threats, real or imagined, challenge our commitment to justice. We’ve seen this play out repeatedly through-
out the course of history—for instance, through pro-slavery legislation, the Nuremburg trials, the various battles for female and minority legal rights. We can see this idea exemplified by the work recently undertaken by American lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Despite being negatively portrayed in certain US media and becoming the target of political groups such as ‘Keep America Safe’, these lawyers did what they themselves thought was right and defended the rule of law and the constitutional right to a fair trial by offering legal representation to terrorist suspects against popular sentiment. All in all, a legal education imparts an ability to see beyond the individual to the greater principle at stake and to question legal authority by looking at its effects on society at large. The study of the law helps develop a heightened understanding of the workings of a democratic society by fostering the ability to think critically and view the world from multiple perspectives. In developing these skills and confronting controversial legal issues, students of the law are made aware of the contingent nature of human institutions and the perils inherent in assumptions of infallibility in our leaders and system of government. Armed with this knowledge, the recipients of a legal education are ideally positioned to work towards improving both public and private spheres of societal life and ensuring that systems of power operate in the service of humanity. Ioannis is a first-year LLB Law student aspiring to be a solicitor, with a keen interest in transnational legal work and the maritime sector.
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Defence of Jurisprudence In
Matthew Birchall argues that legal philosophy should be studied ‘actively’.
he study of jurisprudence, or ‘the philosophy of law,’ is split into two main branches: analytical jurisprudence and normative jurisprudence. The former seeks to answer the question ‘what is law?’ through empirical analysis of legal systems and concepts, whereas the latter is concerned with determining what the law ought to be – i.e. what constitutes ‘good’ law. A common student response to these questions, however, is: ‘Why does it matter?’ There are, you may be surprised to hear, those who thoroughly enjoy the subject from the very first lecture, though this would appear to be a minority view. For others it is an acquired taste: something which they learn to appreciate, or at least tolerate. For the rest, jurisprudence is often seen as abstract, impenetrable, and irrelevant to pursuit of a career in the law. It is certainly easy to see why this has become the prevailing view – after all, jurisprudence is not a requisite component of a qualifying law degree, so why not study something of more practical use? Even for those who have decided to read law, with no intention whatsoever of becoming a lawyer, the lack of a ‘correct’ answer to jurisprudential questions may be an intensely frustrating aspect of the subject. This is undoubtedly made worse by the amount of time dedicated to exposing the flaws of each and every theorist’s account of law, with plausible solutions to their shortcomings few and far between. However, whilst these complaints may be understandable from the perspective of the modern student, they overlook the purpose of studying jurisprudence in the first place and therefore ruin any chance of enjoying the subject. The primary goal of studying jurisprudence is not necessarily to find definitive answers to the philosophical questions surrounding law, but rather to explore them and develop a greater understanding of issues. For example, why do people obey the law? Is it due to fear of sanctions for breaching law, as advocated by command theorists like John Austin? Or is H.L.A. Hart’s theory more accurate – that it is due to an acceptance by legal officials of the legitimacy of the legislator combined with public
acceptance of the validity of the legal system as a whole that makes individuals feel under an obligation to obey the law? Though the question may seem abstract, it has important ramifications in terms of the efficiency of the criminal justice system. If command theories are accurate, then high incidence of breaking a particular law would seem to indicate that the relevant sanction is not severe enough. However, if other theories, such as Hart’s, are more accurate, then increasing severity of the punishment for breaking a particular law may have negligible impact upon the undesirable behaviour. Moreover, the study of a subject as complex and indeterminate as jurisprudence requires students to develop a solid grasp of the concepts and be able to reflect upon their relative merits, as opposed to learning how to apply law to specific circumstances. Through studying jurisprudence at Bristol, I have found that it provides an excellent opportunity to enhance rational thinking and ability to argue in a structured and coherent manner. My initial reaction to the subject was very much in line with the majority of students. Though the quality of teaching was readily apparent, I found jurisprudence difficult and, at times, incomprehensible. As a result, I failed to engage with the subject, which only made matters worse. As the Easter vacation loomed, and the reality of having to sit the exam dawned, I was forced to try to make sense of it all. Thankfully, I did manage to get to grips with jurisprudence in time for the exam, largely through discussing concepts at length with a friend – something which I can’t recommend enough. What I eventually realised, though, was that it was a subject that I actually found incredibly interesting and rewarding, but that I had wasted the chance to get the most out of studying jurisprudence by dismissing it far too early.
“I did manage to get to grips with jurisprudence in time for the exam, largely through discussing concepts at length with a friend – something which I can’t recommend enough.”
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Matthew is a final-year LLB Law student and caseworker for the Innocence Project since 2011. He previously worked on the development of a rehabilitation scheme for young drugs offenders with District Judge Justin Philip, and aspires to be a commercial solicitor at a London firm.
UK Law Schools A Critique of the Ranking System
Estelle Kadjo assesses the usefulness of those infamous league tables when selecting a university.
or aspiring lawyers who aim to graduate with a ‘first’ and join the league of distinguished professionals, comparing law schools via league tables seems to be a natural and sensible course of action. The rankings allow students to choose a law programme strategically. Furthermore, the tables provide consistency as law schools are judged in accordance to a standardised process of evaluation. As such, the results are arguably objective and easily comparable. Therefore, students could make an informed choice. However, the reasons above can be refuted. Let us deal first with the proposition that the system is consistent. Such an assumption disregards the fact that there are multiple league tables. The existence of varying standards reduces the consistency of the results, as each organisation adopts different methods in qualifying the merit of each school. This is illustrated by a discrepancy in league table results: whilst The Guardian has listed Oxford as number one, The Times and the Complete University Guide have, respectively, listed LSE and Cambridge on top. These results lead to confusion. In regards to these differences, it is arguable that consistency was established by virtue of research methodology, as opposed to the mere results they produced. Moreover, the argument that the results are objective can be challenged by the fact that some of these evaluators are alumni from Oxford, Cambridge, and the Russell Group. Accordingly, the results can be skewed. Perhaps the alumnus’ affinity to his alma mater explains why law schools such as Bristol, UCL, and Nottingham consistently score within the top 30. Understandably, great importance is placed on where students graduate from. Put differently, the distinction between Oxford, Cambridge, the Russell Group, and other universities in the UK has become increasingly important. In the legal profession, employers seem to regard certain students as more ‘desirable’ if they graduate from an elite university. Where clients pursue only the crème de la crème, graduates from Oxford, Cambridge, and the Russell Group possess a marked advantage. Whilst writing this article, I initially dismissed league tables as unnecessary. However, upon deeper reflection on both sides of the argument, I arrived at a conclusion that league tables are neither good nor bad. They are simply irrelevant. The debates on consistency and objectivity, though interesting, have little bearing on one’s ultimate choice of law school. I would assume that those who pursue law at Bristol are aiming to join the elite of the profession and make an impact on society. The critique that there might be confusion due to varying results in league tables is, I think, unsustainable. Ultimately, law students obtain a place at Bristol by meeting an intellectual threshold. That criterion alone should allow one to distinguish a law school from another, regardless of the different league tables. Certainly, it is advantageous to graduate from Bristol or a Russell Group’s counterpart with a 2:1 or a ‘first.’ However, that trajectory alone is not the only worthy pursuit. For instance, what is the point of graduating with a ‘first’ if one lacks the interpersonal skills to engage recruiters at a networking event? Whilst top grades are crucial, they are only one piece of the puzzle. Other pieces are also indispensable. As such, there should be a shift in focus from the prestige of one’s university to the substance of one’s skill-sets and competence. Estelle Kadjo is a first year LLB Law student. She is bilingual, with French as her native language. She enjoys debating and working as a ‘Pathways to Law’ mentor and student ambassador.
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A Biographical Sketch of
Dr Devyani Prabhat Dr Devyani Prabhat is a lawyer who is a lecturer at the University of Bristol Law School. Following a Masters degree in Law from New York University School of Law, she holds a Ph.D in Sociology from New York University. Her research and teaching interests are broadly in the area of Public Law (Constitutional Rights and Human Rights). Her research methods are both comparative legal and inter-disciplinary (socio-legal) in nature. She is particularly interested in the works of Émile Durkheim and Pierre Bourdieu. Having transitioned from legal practice to legal academia, how has the opportunity and effort to contribute to human rights changed? In legal practice what rights issues come up depends on the client and case. It is often strategic thinking for a particular client, although lawyers use test cases strategically as well. In legal academia we are a layer removed from strategising and can think of the larger picture. Particularly from a socio-legal perspective this could be about identifying patterns and understanding the larger picture. Also, there is tremendous scope to engage students in critical thinking about rights. We all have received values and questioned those values, and thinking beyond those leads us to a greater understanding of the world around us. It is not about changing the world but changing ourselves. What motivated you to focus on the response of lawyers to human rights issues (raised in light of 9/11 and the Northern Irish conflict)? I had just graduated from New York University School of Law and was preparing for the New York Bar Exam in the summer of 2004 when the landmark case of Rasul v. Bush was decided. The US Supreme Court had decided to look at habeas applications from Guantánamo Bay. At that time there were media reports about the American lawyers who worked on
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this case. I had been part of the Human Rights Clinic and the Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic at NYU Law and was drawn to the discussions of how difficult it was to do this legal work in the Guantánamo context. I wanted to know more about their challenges, limitations and strategies. Later I expanded this study to similar national security-human rights conflicts such as the Northern Irish conflict in the UK and the Puerto Rican political violence in Chicago, US. In light of your multi-jurisdictional experience, what are the fundamental differences in the legal education between the UK and the US? In the US the first degree in law is a post graduate degree and thus the students in the first degree are older than in the UK where the first degree is an undergraduate degree. It means American law students usually have some other work experience or engagement with other disciplines which they can bring to their study of law. This makes legal education vibrant. However, I find in the UK the students are more open to different views and ideas and come without strong pre-conceptions of what law should or should not do probably because they are younger people. We can engage them in ‘doing law’ or ‘talking law’ in the everyday context here. It becomes a part of who they are. It is very rewarding to see that growth in their personalities. »
DICTAeducation In the US there is a lot more emphasis on clinical skills based training with courses such as Lawyering and clinical courses where students work on actual court cases. This is catching on here and it is a good development as it gives students valuable insight into how law actually works. Entry to the legal profession itself is more apprenticeship-based here in the UK, whereas it is law school and Bar exam-based in the US. This means we are preparing students to make further choices about their lives here whereas in the US they are usually on a set career trajectory already (although many do change careers later).
have an appreciation for the inventiveness of human ideas and the human spirit in different places. I myself love learning about history, fiction, music and other cultural forms which can feed into my imagination of what I may know about the law in different countries Is there a particular book, film, documentary, or news source that you would recommend to law students?
There are so many. It is a constant discovery. I would distract students from their core studies if I gave you my full list! Classics for enjoyIs it possible to identify a pattern of correlation between ing British Public Law are of course ‘Yes, Minister’ and the nature of state action, reaction by the legal profes“As law students ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ (both on television and on stage). sion, and resultant outcomes of rights agitation by lawThe Danish TV serial ‘Borgen’ is excellent for underand lawyers (or yers? standing how politics (particularly coalition politics) academics) we need works. It even had an episode on extraordinary rendiIt is very difficult to generalize this, but we can say to ‘do’ law and ‘talk’ tion and Guantanamo Bay! that lawyers are more likely to engage for core rule of I tend to hear a lot of legal and political programmes law in everyday law issues such as access to justice (court and counsel) on radio. I grew up reading Rumpole of the Old Bailey rather than any expansive rights (such as socio-economic by John Mortimer and still follow all the episodes that activities and rights). If state action erodes these we see rights agitacome up on Radio 4. Rumpole is my ideal barrister. situations.” tion by lawyers in liberal democracies. I find that this is Do not rely on any one news source. You never more likely now than say two decades back in both the know what gets edited out. Some media sources are not US and the UK and have examined why this is so in my PhD thesis. very reliable. Also, try to read websites from different countries. I hear Radio France (RFI) and I read the Toronto Star (online) just to get difHow would you advise law students to develop a sharper sense of so- ferent perspectives on US and European politics. If you visit any part of cio-political awareness in their studies? the world or have a close friend from a different country, do sign up for a weekly newsletter from that place as that will keep that region alive for you Reading newspapers (not just one but a variety of newspapers and and widen your world. After all, politics is not about dabbling around in preferably in print) and following the political news closely develops a various ‘isms’ -- like law, it is about life itself. deeper understanding of world politics. This, in my opinion, is more important than reading academic texts on socio-political topics. As law What do you find most endearing about your time at Bristol University? students and lawyers (or academics) we need to ‘do’ law and ‘talk’ law in everyday activities and situations. It is not just for the time you revise for Undoubtedly, it is the sense of wellbeing and collegiality I experience exams or write essays. Also, we should have curiosity of how law differs at work. I am very fortunate to be able to connect my research and my from place to place. Sometimes people who travel widely are negative teaching. I am proud of my students (both undergraduate and postgradabout all the places they travel to. Constant negative comparison doesn’t uate ones) and I want them to believe in themselves, to work hard and to do much. When we see how law differs we should ask ourselves ‘why’ and aim high. think about this rather than just reacting to the differences. It helps to
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The relationship between law and morality has troubled jurisprudential theorists (and indeed, law students) for centuries. Alexander Chau argues that the ultimate unifier of human relations is the law rather than morality, the latter serving only to divide society.
Law and Morality: Immoral Law is always Right
amed appellate judge Tom Denning once wrote: “Without morality, there is no law.” He was dead wrong. Law is an institution that is totally separate from the morals we learned from our parents, our society, and our religion (if any). This isn’t to say that some of today’s laws will individually coincide with certain moral guidelines, like the rule against the capital punishment or the rule against stealing from your neighbour. However, they’re exactly that: coincidences that have been enacted into law because of public opinion, economic certainty, etc. In fact, the law isn’t even close to being a mirror of our society’s ‘ever-progressing views’: It’s the extra-moral result of endless negotiations within a mosaic of individual minds. Take an extreme, but telling, example. Today, our society is one that allows the freedom of expression by neo-Nazis and trade unions alike. Many view the raisons d’être and opinions of these groups as ‘wrong’ and destabilizing in a healthy society.
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Yet, from the perspective of the law, the freedom of expression was not designed to sort out the good from the bad. It was designed to protect, in the simplest way possible, offensive speech and those who say it. Those of us who don’t practice racism or socialism have nothing to fear, because we don’t push on the limits of our right to free speech on a daily basis. However, anyone who sees the law as binding morality in our society must inevitably have to consider imprisoning anyone who had a minority opinion. The law serves as a unifying force, while morality cannot help but to split a nation into pieces. Furthermore, the law shouldn’t be moral. It should be whatever we want it to be, regardless of moral influences or any standards of right and wrong. If we had a legal system that was inherently moral, we wouldn’t be killing innocent unborn children while claiming a right to life for all, nor would we be sanctioning assisted suicide by doctors who have sworn an »
oath to protect that same principle. When we walk into a vot- regardless of how “wrong” we are. It doesn’t allow anyone to ing booth to pick our representatives in Parliament, our mindset amend or falsely-interpret its intentions in the name of morality. should be that they pass laws that we want to be enacted. Since In hindsight, Denning should have had his work edited to the time of the Greeks, we’ve recognized that, all too often, say: “With morality, there is no law.” If we use morality as a we disagree on what’s right and wrong. It’s standard in any way to judge, create or exthat disagreement that has led to our form “The law serves as a ecute the law, then law as we know it no of democracy today, where we (through our exists. Our legal system is designed to unifying force, while longer MPs) come together to compromise on the be immutable in the face of ever-changing morality cannot help moral values outside the legislature. Since best possible solutions for each generation. A moral set of laws would be nothing more but to split a nation our morality is constantly in flux and varthan a disguise for the opinions of a strong ies from moment to moment, we wouldn’t into pieces.” minority in society. be able to observe “moral laws” any more The principle that law shouldn’t have than we could try to worship both God and anything to do with human morality is something that all law- money. It simply can’t be done and shouldn’t be done. All good yers and law students must eventually learn, especially those lib- lawyers must do their part to keep our appropriately immoral erals on the U.K. Supreme Court. A judge who believes a court laws in place, or we’ll be facing the chants of tomorrow saying, can, in Ronald Dworkin’s sense, “judicially construct” a statute “let’s kill all the lawyers!” is subverting the law by throwing their own morality at it. Many lawyers and judges must be taught that they have no right to Alexander is a second-year LLB Law student and an aspiring acarewrite laws, as it’s simply none of their business. The law is our demic in political science. He writes on all things polemically and business: It is what we, the people, have made in our own image, digitally inclined, and can be found on Twitter @ahkc DICTA
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Hands off the courts The increasingly troubled relationship between Parliament and the Courts and its underlying reasons are cast into the limelight by Jan Zeber.
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hat do you do when you’re unhappy with which is that Parliament makes the law, and judgthe way your court case was decided? You es interpret the law”. appeal, and if you’re still unhappy, you appeal I could not agree more with Home Secreagain, until you have reached the end of the jus- tary’s classic account of our constitution. Parliatice system and have to accept the final decision ment does make the law but in doing so it has of the senior judges on the point of law. Stating bound the courts by the Human Rights Act, the obvious? Well, in light of recent criticism and which requires judges to interpret all legislation ‘guidance’ for the judiciary, it seems that the polit- line with ECHR provisions, or to issue a ‘declaraical circles have somewhat different ideas. tion of incompatibility’ should they find it imposTheresa May has made it very clear where sible to do so. Whether Mrs May likes it or not, she stands on immigration. It’s not uncommon balancing rights against each other is precisely for the Home Secretary to make statements in- what we have judges for. She cannot possibly exforming the British public that more than one- pect their Lordships to ignore the precedents set third of all housing demand is caused by immi- down by the Supreme Court and rule in line with gration, and that without it house prices could be her wishes on the strength of a single Parliamen10% lower over a 20-year period. She’s also be- tary debate. Indeed, the use of Hansard (a record hind the recent change in the Life in the UK Test, of Parliamentary proceedings) has only been perwhich I had the pleasure of sitting last April (and mitted for judicial use since 1992 and only when marginally passed first time). The amendment interpreting ambiguous legislation. It should nevwas supposed to bring in more content relating er be regarded as a source of positive law. to the history and achievements of our nation, Even if Theresa May does manage to rush and less with the practicalities and bureaucracy. through relevant primary legislation, I would not The effect is a test which no born-and-bred Brit- be surprised if some judges were still reluctant on will pass without considerable time spent over to follow suit, feeling the weight of the HRA the official study guide. upon them. The response of ‘The response of Without wishing to critithe legal circles to the row is cise the Home Secretary’s imthe legal circles is unanimous – another Home migration policy, I am greatly Secretary is using the judges as saddened by her recent outrage unanimous - another scapegoats for a spot of ‘popregarding judicial interpretaulist play’. Certainly, Baroness Home Secretary tion of deportation laws. In a human rights lawusing the judges as Kennedy, her infamous article published yer and a Labour peer, states by The Mail on Sunday, Mrs scapegoats for a bit of that she regards the whole May expressed her discontent thing as ‘politics trying to inpopulist play’ with how ‘some of our judges terfere with judicial rule’ and appear to have got it into their heads that Article that ‘Home Secretaries always do this kind of Eight of the European Convention of Human thing’. Rights, the ‘right to family life’, is an absolute, She also stated that picking fights with judgunqualified right.’ She accused some judges of es is very bad for the rule of law, stressing that defying Parliament’s guidance on balancing Art. 8 judges need a degree of discretion in order to fulof the European Convention of Human Rights, ly exercise their independent judgement, which right to family life, enshrined by the Human remains – in my opinion – the main concern Rights Act 1998, with the current law on depor- in this affair. Politicians need to get it into their tation of foreign criminals, allowing 185 appeals heads that judiciary is not a machine for policy on the basis of the defendant having family in the implementation. It’s their job to question the vaUK (out of 409 total allowed appeals). lidity of political actions, which doesn’t amount It is unclear what exactly this ‘guidance’ she to making law, but rather to making sure it’s legal. is referring to is. From her article, we can gather Seeing as we don’t have a written constitution, the that it is a debate in Parliament which saw the courts are the only body that can protect us from House unanimously supporting her stance that a despotic government. This isn’t Dicey’s day. “any foreign national who was convicted of a Tampering with the constitution to score political serious crime should be deported, regardless of points is very dangerous. whether or not the criminal had a family in the UK”. Mrs May further states that she expected Jan is a second-year LLB Law student, the President “the outcome of the debate to be enough”, and of the Freedom Society 2013/14 and the Third Year makes it clear she regards defiance of it as incom- Representative for the UBLC 2013/14. He writes patible with “the central idea of our constitution, about the things he reads, for others to write about.
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Law and Sovereignty: A Case Study
The controversial Libertad incident has been the focus of many discussions regarding the effectiveness of international law. Samuel Pang examines its true impact on state power relations. The New Indictment
n Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, Mr Bumble famously utters “the law is an ass”. His words may reflect the sentiments of the legal system’s most strident critics. The law has been faulted, amongst other things, for its opacity to laymen and its propensity to favour more powerful litigants. From recent events, a new indictment might be added: the law is charged with undermining national sovereignty. The Libertad Incident In early October 2012, the Libertad, an Argentinean naval ship, docked at the Ghanaian port of Tema as part of its diplomatic tour around the African region. Shortly upon its arrival, the ship was impounded via a Ghanaian court order and prevented from leaving the port. It turned out that the seizure of the ship had been initiated by NML Capital, a US-based hedge fund owned by billionaire Paul Singer. NML Capital was suing Argentina to recover the full face value of Argentinean sovereign debt, which the fund had purchased at a discount on the secondary market during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2002. After the disastrous default in 2002, Argentina tried various methods to recover economically, primarily through restructuring its debt. The South American country offered its creditors a partial settlement by proposing to repay the debt at a fraction of its original value. This proposal was accepted by about 93% of creditors. However, a minority group of creditors, such as NML Capital, refused to participate in the settlement and has since been trying to recover the full value of their purchased debt, totalling US$1.6 billion. The fund initiated a series of legal actions in the New York courts disputing the legality of Argentina’s restructuring plan. In October 2012 The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) reaffirmed decisions by a lower court that NML Capital was legally entitled to demand repayment from Argentina despite refusing to participate in the debt restructuring. The debt restructuring plan was subject to a “Pari Passu” clause found in the Fiscal Agency Agreement, which Argentina had used to issue its debt. Essentially, the court ruled that it was legally inappropriate for Argentina to compensate the class of bondholders who agreed to the partial settlement while ignoring the interests of the minority class of bondholders who refused to accept the settlement. In accordance with these judgments, the fund initiated a series of manoeuvres to seize Argentinian assets so as to enforce the judgment, such as the attempt to seize the Libertad in Ghana. The Argentinian government appealed to the United Nations (UN)
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International Tribunal for Law of the Sea. The Libertad incident was resolved when the tribunal ultimately ordered the release of the warship from Ghana’s legal custody. While the decision by the UN tribunal was a welcome conclusion to the Libertad incident, it does not address the core underlying issues. The tribunal had ordered the release of the Libertad on the basis of a provisional remedy available under Article 290 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. This was only available due to the Libertad’s status as a “warship”, which endowed it with diplomatic immunity against seizure. However, as the Tribunal emphasized, its order was not a pre-judgement on the substantive merits of legal actions initiated against Argentina, either by Ghana or NML Capital. This is unlikely to be the end of the legal disputes arising from Argentina’s sovereign debt default. The business practices of NML Capital, as seen in this case, are common amongst ‘vulture funds’, which typically purchase distressed sovereign debt during a crisis. These tactics allow these funds to profit by recovering money grossly disproportionate to the sums invested. Dr Cephas Lumina, a United Nations Independent Expert for Debt Relief and Human Rights, strongly condemns the abovementioned business tactics, arguing that they “paralyse debt relief and economic recovery of indebted nations”. Being held at ransom by such vulture investors causes the financial situation of indebted nations to remain in flux, at the cost of great hardship to their people. Tim Jones, a policy officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign, has also advocated the need for “international laws to prevent vulture funds from profiteering through times of national crisis”. Extending the Battle Lines This case demonstrates the escalating tensions between law and national sovereignty in a globalised world. In the past, the law has wrestled with issues of power imbalances between parties of unequal bargaining power. The fruits of such labours are seen in examples like consumer protection legislation. Despite the vitriol directed at the legal system and its previous conflicts with executive branches of government, law was rarely seen as an instrument to undermine the state. However, the combination of globalisation and international economics has culminated in the potential use of legal systems to threaten the economic foundations of sovereign nations. The law is now faced with an unfamiliar dilemma of how to resolve competing tensions between upholding rules of international commerce and safeguarding the sovereignty of vulnerable nations. It is fervently hoped that the international legal order is able to resolve this conflict with perspicacity and fairness. Samuel is a first-year LLB Law student from Singapore.
Around the World in One Academic Year Dicta takes you on a 5677.6-mile journey across the globe in an attempt to unveil the experiences and confessions of Bristol Law students abroad.
Lorna Clark in Würzburg, Germany Surviving without Precedent
magine studying Law without having to read any cases. Whilst this may sound like heaven to the vast majority of Law students, I can honestly say that after six months of German Law in Würzburg, I am beginning to miss the Common Law. Civil Law systems organise the law into a series of written codes, which supposedly present the advantages of clarity, brevity, and accessibility. The German legal system is no different and has several ‘codes’, including the Grundgesetz (Constitution), the Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) and the Bürgerlichesgesetzbuch (Civil Code). Courts are expected to apply the codes and to do little but that; there is certainly no discussion of precedent. What, I hear you ask, do Law students do in Germany with no cases to read?! Well, with festivals every other weekend ranging from Oktoberfest to Fasching (Carnival) you can hardly expect students to have time for studying! In between drinking beer (essentially considered to be water in Bavaria) and eating traditional apple strudel, time also has to be made for a couple of 4-hour (!) lectures each week. Persuading the lecturer to give Erasmus
students oral exams is definitely worth a shot. But when you have no luck, you are generally required to answer problem questions in written exams. A ‘simple application’ of the civil codes is far more difficult than it sounds! Let me take Criminal Law as an example. It is true to say that the majority of laws are set out in the Criminal Code. What happens when the Code itself is unclear? In Germany, the courts cannot base decisions on previous case law. Instead, individual words and phrases used in legislation are precisely defined. It is then asked whether the facts of the case meet the definition in question. German definitions are the equivalent of English cases. They are methodically regurgitated by law students in exams. My instinct was to question where these arbitrary definitions came from. The helpful answer was that they are in textbooks. Considering my Criminal textbook was written by my lecturer (who marks the exams), there was no further discussion to be had! Whereas in the UK we might present conflicting case law, in Germany I have had to learn to present the ‘prevailing opinion’ and the ‘other point of view’ – without so much as a thought as to whose opinion I am quot-
ing. In England, this would be the equivalent of stating a point of law without backing it up with authority; at Bristol we would score 40% at best! In Germany, the more standardised your answer is, the better. If students are discouraged from challenging the opinions they are supposed to regurgitate, then it seems to me that Germany has some sort of academic takeover of the legal system on its hands! While I hope I have managed to choose units for next term that do not require memorising 100 complicated definitions, I would thoroughly recommend a year abroad to anyone. Academically it is engaging to learn how a different legal system functions; the lack of cases only scrapes the very surface of the differences between English and German law. The foreign law, however, is unlikely to be the most memorable part of anyone’s year abroad. Even the strongest advocates of the Common Law can enjoy the cultural experiences, travel opportunities, and new friendships that the year has to offer! When avoiding work, Lorna has been making the most of German culture – in particular the regular festivals, food and beer. She has enjoyed visiting several other German cities. »
Elle Outram in Bologna, Italy La Dolce Vita: Hours in the Park, Moments in the Law School
unshine, pizza, and gelato. That is how we all perceive Italy, is it not? Well yes, that is precisely what one can expect to pack into a week – long summer excursion to Sardinia. Day-to-day life in Italy is, however, somewhat different. Sadly, winter exists even in the Med – and a permanent diet of the aforementioned foods would lead to unrivalled obesity rates; a cherry on the cake of Italy’s long list of public problems. In bocca al lupo (good luck) to all of the poor Italians who currently face the prospect of living in a country governed, quite literally, by comedians. I decided to work as an au pair whilst simultaneously dedicating myself to studying Law at the world’s oldest and most famous Facoltà di Giurisprudenza – at the University of Bologna. The aim was to gain a wider exposure to Italian language as well as to have a fascinating cultural insight into Italian family life – a foolproof plan, or so I thought. Suffice to say that my year abroad has not been quite what I might have imagined. My Italian host family – Fabio, Patrizia, five-year-old Alessandro and eight-yearold Alice – were incredibly welcoming
from the start and have been supportive throughout my time in Bologna. Every afternoon for the last seven months I have religiously tried my hardest to enact the role of Buzz Lightyear throughout endless games of Toy Story, to paint multifarious dinosaur pictures, and to play barbies as though it is my favourite past-time in the world. The vocabulary I have picked up is entertaining and varied, though not necessarily appropriate for future legal work... unless of course clients wish to discuss Disney films on whose turn it is to go on the swings in the nearest park. The children have been great fun and have brought a huge smile to my face on many unforgettable occasions. Turning now to my slightly alternative experience of university life: law courses take place over one semester and consist of about six hours of lectures per week (attendance not necessary) with no supplementary tutorials. At the end of the course, there are at least three opportunities to sit an oral exam in which one is tested on the contents of a maximum of two textbooks. Success as a Law student in Italy lies in learning these books off
by heart: an uninspiring task for students who, at home, are encouraged to undertake individual research. Despite the spells of intense frustration at the university’s lack of organisation and the moments of utter despair whilst ironing and folding underwear for the family, I have made some fantastic friends this year and look forward to my last few months as the sun finally shows its face again and I am able to take trips to Verona, Siena, and many other beautiful cities for under ten Euros. Italy may be rather corrupt and inefficiently run, but the country’s stunning culture and the opportunity to see life from another angle has certainly made my year abroad worthwhile. I cannot wait to return for many a sunny holiday in the Med! When Elle has not been working as an au pair, her hobbies abroad have included eating ice-cream in her favourite piazzas, exploring the aperitivo culture, travelling to other cities, walking in the hills, and playing the odd string trio with friends. »
Sara Charteris-Black in Queenstown, Singapore Living the Air-Conditioned Life
uring my first semester at the National University of Singapore, I attended a talk given by Tony Blair. The ex-Prime Minister spoke of Singapore’s rapid progression into the First World, praising the nation for its democratisation and respect for civil liberties. As his speech drew to a close, applause erupted amongst the sea of smiling Singaporean faces. On the face of it, Singapore’s progression is indeed something to be applauded. This small, brightly-lit, air-conditioned nation is clean and remarkably efficient. It being the second richest country in the world - with an unemployment rate of less than 2% and casinos raking in more than those in Vegas – I began to realise why the nation had become such a magnet for the young, wealthy businessman. Before long, however, the cool air-conditioned buildings became reminiscent of a different type of coolness within the country. Is the nation’s so-called democracy deserving of praise? The fact that the People’s Action Party has been Singapore’s ruling political party for almost half a century now is hardly surprising considering the rules surrounding elections, but it is worrying nonetheless. According to the law, opposing parties are given a mere 9 days to campaign prior to Election Day. Furthermore, it is illegal, under section 33 of the Films Act, to produce any party political film. And unlike the
UK, Singapore has no defence of qualified privilege, protecting a journalist’s right to scrutinise the government. And is the nation’s respect for civil liberties likewise deserving of admiration? The Public Order Act makes it an offence in Singapore to “demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government”. As for the rights of certain minorities, section 377A of the Penal Code continues to criminalise sex between homosexual men. After reading a 2005 parliamentary debate on section 377A for class, I was astonished to discover that the winning party had made claims as shocking as: “homosexuality is a genetic identity disorder.” It has become apparent to me that Singapore does not champion civil liberties in the same way it champions economic efficiency. The country’s cleanliness now seems sterile, and the high standard of living a mere mask for the country’s soft-authoritarian rule. Yet the Singaporeans cheering Tony Blair in that seminar room were smiling. Whether this indicates a genuine satisfaction with their air-conditioned lives is doubtful and, of course, worthy of an article in itself. Sara has passed her time abroad eating dim sum and utilising the on-campus infinity pool. »
Wallis Rushforth in Hong Kong, China East of Suez: Call of the Canton
hen explaining why they chose to study abroad, students usually mention relishing opportunities and passion. But my answer to the question is somewhat self-explanatory: because Hong Kong is one of the greatest cities on Earth. The University of Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading academic institutions. The standards are high, the calibre of students higher, and the facilities are virtually unparalleled. The Law campus is an impressively modern structure - a synthesis of glass, greenery, and technology. The archaic charm of Wills Memorial has been thrust into realms of nostalgia. The courses offered by the Law Faculty are hugely varied: anything from Refugee Law to Cross-Border Corporate Finance. The professors range from esteemed academics to industry professionals, making for interesting and engaging classes. It truly is quite an honour to study here. I feel, however, that I ought to qualify this romantic portrait of HKU: the classes are each three hours long and the workload is offensive. But exchangers diligently subscribe to the ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra to get us through the arduous assessment periods. I essentially live in a shoebox. My
room is approximately 10cm² and I share a bathroom with fourteen mainlanders. But being the only gweilo (ghost man) on my floor has been an amazing cultural experience. Not only have I improved my spoken Mandarin, but I have also had a crash course in the art of making dumplings. Hong Kong is fantastically mad. It is a beautiful amalgamation of globalisation and tradition. The beacons of capitalism that tower over Central are skirted by street vendors; shopping malls stand beside fruit stalls. Cross over to the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and you’re in the most densely populated place on Earth - Mong Kok, or ‘busy corner’ in Cantonese. There are 130,000 people packed into each square kilometre and the streets are an epileptic fit waiting to happen. It is also home to the Triads. Imagine that Hollywood vomited up Chinatown, and multiply by five. By nightfall, you will find exchange students marauding the city’s thoroughfares of iniquity. Lan Kwai Fong is the clubbing epicentre of Hong Kong, where the atmosphere is electric and the end of a night is signified by sunrise. Wan Chai, on the other hand, offers a number of excellent British pubs and live music venues. You have not partied until you have partied
in Hong Kong. Another key feature of exchange is travelling. Hong Kong is a gateway to the rest of Asia. During reading weeks, students tear themselves away from their statute books and embark upon trips traversing all of Asia: Burma to Bali. Perhaps the best part of my time abroad has been the people. I have made lifelong bonds with students from every corner of the globe. Friendships feel almost familial; we comprise a patchwork of individuals from all walks of life, each with our own individual story. Despite the aforementioned academic calibre of the University, I have learned more from my new friends than any class could endeavour to teach. I have been plunged into a melting pot of cultures, whereupon I am now more adept with chopsticks than a knife and fork. I have laughed, cried, danced, and travelled more in this year than in any other. This has undoubtedly been one of the best years of my life. On her year abroad, Wallis has mastered the art of eating with chopsticks and hiked most of Hong Kong’s famous trails.
Destination France France is by far the most popular third-year destination amongst those offered to Bristol Law students. Five of the ten students across the channel, including Dicta’s very own Senior Editor Turan Hursit, tell us about beautiful architecture, food fit for a king, and ceaseless battles with French bureaucracy.
Rebecca Huddart in Poitiers, France From an Unknown Corner of France
he first question most people ask me upon discovering my location for the year is “where is Poitiers?” My response is usually: “about an hour-and-a-half away from anywhere decent - Paris, Bordeaux, La Rochelle…” My sleepy host city, home to a mere 91,000 inhabitants, is right in the middle of western France. It was uncannily quiet when I arrived in August, most shops being fermés pour les vacances (closed for the holidays). This was of course a surprise for somebody used to seeing Bristol heaving with shoppers all year round. Having survived the stressful process of finding an apartment (you need a bank account to rent an apartment, but also a French address to open a bank account – but this is not even the tip of the iceberg of French bureaucracy), I started to feel more comfortable having my own little space in this foreign city. The university is situated outside of the main city, about a 30-minute walk or 10-inute bus ride away. It is no Wills Memorial Building, but a modern complex that scatters a sparse area divided by only one road. Whilst the lecture halls are decent, chipboard replaces wallpaper. Furthermore, we have acquired a favourite toilet for the simple fact that it is the only one with a toilet seat. In a country in which university funds are limited (by a lack of education fees), money has to be cut from somewhere! Students quickly forget any problems they might have experienced with the SWAP office – incredibly efficient in hindsight – upon their arrival in France. It took about three weeks and a million forms just to register. These forms had to be taken to every existing office within a 10-mile
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radius. Helpfully, most of them were usually closed. After the paperwork had finally been taken care of, the real Poitiers experience could begin. In France, university is much like school: there is no independent reading and the lecturer’s opinion is unquestionably right. The hours could be better. I have 8AM lectures three times a week, making any 9AM-starts next year a god-send. I have a weekly tutorial in French civil law. Outside of preparation for this, there is very little to do. The French perception of ‘university’ consists of taking notes in lectures and regurgitating these same notes in exams. Though I know that I will eventually regret saying this, I cannot wait to start reading articles again! I have found that the French way is best understood after a glass (or two) of wine or beer – a worthwhile investment of one’s Erasmus grant. The slow pace and bad organisational skills of the French also seem at least bearable when the delights of a three-hour lunch break take over (the French will not be rushed). I have welcomed being able to sit back and relax with a cup of coffee, even whilst the thought of work is nagging my mind. Despite my now-commonplace response of “c’est la France” to most administration-related problems and the fact that nothing could possibly surprise me again about this wine-guzzling country, I will certainly miss the French way of life when I leave. Rebecca spends her time in France avoiding eating copious amounts of bread and chasing the sun. »
Turan Hursit in Bordeaux, France Baguettes, Paperwork, and Sunshine: Memoirs of a Bristol Law Student in France
o toilet seat? NO TOILET SEAT?! Observation #1 in France: it is not uncommon to have to urinate in a toilet which was forgotten by the toilet seat fairy. This was the first in a long list of surprises - not always pleasant - encountered during my year abroad. Among them: that France has the highest proportion of dog excrement to square metre of pavement in the world, that working hours do not, and God forbid that they should, span more than two hours at any one time, and that the French are far from being the European leaders in the running of educational establishments. As you may have gathered, not every part of my year abroad was as expected. Though warned about the bureaucracy, I did not expect to require, for example, a three-month backlog of electricity bills and statements belonging to the last five generations of my family (and a few rubbings of their tombstones) for the acquisition of a tram pass. Nor did I think that I would have to wage World War Three on the Bureau des Relations Internationales to obtain my admittedly hefty Erasmus grant. But the experience has not only been insightful in providing me with the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture - and more importantly, the cuisine - of another country, but also intellectually stimulating. Admittedly, the latter has been dubious at times. The French education system can hardly be described as awe-inspiring in the way that it functions. Teaching consists of two-hour lectures of monotonous dictation with one supplementary tutorial a week for which there is very little reading. Weekly essays, meanwhile, are not intended to inspire creativity; on the contrary, without the ‘right’ structure and argument (and an incredible ability to second-guess the tutor’s preferred section ‘titles’), students do not have a hope in the world of doing well. Yet, there is something strangely welcoming in experiencing these differences first-hand. Not
only does it allow us to understand how and why French lawyers and legal academics differ in their style of argument, but the substance of what is taught at Law School in France is also fundamentally different from what we are used to in the UK. Beyond a heavy reliance upon codes lies an academic thirst for historical context which is not entirely unwelcome in a society so heavily shaped by the ideologies of its philosophes. The courts, meanwhile, strive admirably to be logical in their consideration of legal predicaments. Most judgments outline, in the following order: the relevant law, the facts of the case if the latter is of a civil nature, the arguments of the parties, and the considerations of the court, before presenting a decision. They are not only logical but brief. Whilst the Supreme Court adds to student workloads with the presentation of sixty-odd pages of impenetrable legal argument in every case, the French Cour de Cassation is often able to deliver its opinion in just a page. Admittedly, this is largely because of the inexistence of the ‘dissenting opinion’ in the French system - a state of affairs which is intended to sustain a façade of judicial solidarity. But the fact remains that the logic of thought adopted by the majority, at the very least, is evident from a very short passage of text. This is not to say that the quality of justice obtained in France is superior to that in England. Au contraire, the arguments presented by the French courts are often simplistic and fail to consider situational nuances. This keeps the academic writers of French ‘doctrine’ in business. The fact alone that Lord Denning, in his own words, “starts [his] judgment … with a prologue—as the chorus does in one of Shakespeare’s plays—to introduce the story” before embarking upon his consideration of the legal issues suffices to demonstrate the importance attributed by certain British judges to obtaining results refined by the factual necessities of each case. Paradoxically, therefore, this year has
served to convince me, if conviction was ever needed, of the necessity - and indeed the desirability - of common law intricacies which may initially seem anachronistic to Law School freshers. But my learning has not been confined purely to legal matters. Following instructions given by my Public Law lecturer, I now know how to organise a fully-fledged coup d’état. This will be particularly useful should the French decide to implement a sixteenth (!) constitution. In addition, aside from teaching me how to cope without a toilet seat, time spent in the bathrooms at university has educated me to degree-level about French politics, thanks to the tendency of French students to conduct all of their discussions about the most recent Président de la République (an ‘idiot’ with a ‘terrible immigration policy’ according to Adrienne et al.) on the back of toilet doors. Accordingly, I now have some idea as to where the likes of Voltaire found their inspiration. On a more practical level, I now understand how students are supposed to dress themselves – in designer coats, six-inch stiletto heels, and make-up fresh off a Rimmel advert – following regularly prolonged minutes gawking at student models who traverse the great catwalks of the Bordeaux IV campus. And, of course, I have discovered the unmatchable luxury of fresh baguettes, from which the French refuse to be separated even during natural disasters as extreme as rush-hour on the tram; the sunshine of southern France; and a number of very, very pretty cathedrals - not to mention the wonders of espresso coffee, to which I am now addicted. Foregoing a little luxury like toilet seats? Ça vaut la peine. Turan’s hobbies abroad have included editing Dicta, playing for the university orchestra, and teaching English to retired people, yoga instructors, and commanders. » DICTA
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Nicholas Cullinan in Tours, France Quintessentially French Experience
ours is a medieval city located in the Centre region of rural France. As the former capital of France, it boasts of an architecture that is stunning to say the least. There is plenty to do – from visiting nearby castles or Paris, which sits a mere hour’s train ride away – to drinking a chilled beer on the city’s infamous Place Plumereau. This square is the epicentre of student life in Tours; it has many bars and cafés, and on summer nights, the sheer number of students makes it almost impossible to cross from one side of the square to the other. It must be the beautiful surroundings that distract the university administration staff from their jobs, which they seem reluctant to do. I have to admit that it took me a while to get to grips with this. I had never quite realised how good we have it at Bristol (and doubt I will ever bemoan the system again). When I arrived, I was instructed to e-mail my course coordinator. Two weeks in (classes having started a week before), I still had not received a response. I thought I should maybe venture down to this mysterious man’s office to see whether or not he existed. I feared that he might have been very ill, quit his job, or injured in some horrible accident. After queuing for an hour (a standard part of any administration in France), I found before me one of the merriest men I had ever met in my life. There was definitely nothing wrong with him. He later explained that he doesn’t reply to e-mails because he doesn’t have the time to do so. So far, this has proved to be a trait common to most university staff. The Law faculty itself is a modern building outside of town. I have met many students there. My most memorable meeting took place a few weeks after my arrival in Tours. Having discovered that I had already studied Law for two years, a student asked me if Law was difficult. I laughed and said: “it’s no walk in the park.” He quickly started to pack up his belongings and replied: “Oh, well I guess it’s not for me then!” before leaving. In France, university is free and anybody who passes the Baccalaureate has the right to attend. This means that French students try (and fail) as many times as they like until they find a topic that they enjoy – or a topic that does not require too much work which allows them to have an active social life. The Erasmus scheme provides the opportunity to discover the culture of your host country as well as those of other countries from around the world. As an Erasmus student, you will not be the only student on exchange at your host university. In Tours, there is a large, culturally varied group of Erasmus students
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and over time we have become very close. Considering the cultural differences that I have faced whilst studying in another country, it has been great to have the support of other students having similar experiences. It has also been useful to have somebody to moan to when craving real bacon, the joys of which have not yet been discovered by the French. All in all, I am glad to have chosen to study abroad and will greatly miss the experience next year. Nicholas spends his days drinking sirop à l’eau (mint syrup – a popular drink in France) and enjoying the sweet sound of accordions. »
he typical Frenchie rises at about 9 am, makes coffee at home, and then heads to work via the local boulangerie. Just as in the UK we are no more than two metres from a rat, in France they are never further than sniffingdistance from a bakery. It is also customary at this time to collect several baguettes, which must be carried around as a form of defence at all times according to the National Baguette Association. Above all, the Frenchie must not leave home without a piece of ID, necessary for most everyday transactions from going swimming to buying a bus pass. Rumours that its use is to be extended to public toilets are as yet unconfirmed. Whatever route the Frenchie takes to work, he can be sure to pass a pharmacy at least every 200 metres. The pharmacy’s main purpose is not to sell medical supplies, but to light up every person’s journey with fast-changing patterns of green stripes filling a large cross above the pharmacy door. Helpfully, most of these signs also display the date, time and temperature, so the Frenchie can accurately calculate how much time he is wasting being distracted by these signs. Fortunately, work will not begin until 10 o’clock, so there is no real hurry to arrive. Time spent at is seen as a form of torture by the Frenchie, and working hours (a maximum of 35 hours per week) make leisure time compulsory. Attempts by the previous President to increase the statutory maximum of working hours were supported by just over half the population. It is to be expected that well-used shops such as bakeries and cafés will shut for four to six weeks over the summer, particularly in small villages. Not actually having a job is an even more detested situation for the Frenchie. In fact, being given employment is a constitutional right. Arrival at work will signal a flurry of kiss exchanges. Depending on the region and the
Eleanor Healy-Birt in Bordeaux, France Day in the Life of a Frenchie
level of acquaintance, these may take anywhere from two seconds each to a full minute, per person. This ritual serves well to replace British small-talk about the weather. The Frenchie will then go to his work station and begin to clock up the 35 hours. There are two things that can be stated about the job regardless of the post. Firstly, the Frenchie will have spent half his life at university to get it, selflessly wasting away years to help keep the country’s unemployment statistics at a minimum. A typical university journey consists of two or three first years in different subjects, a re-taking of the first year in the subject that is finally settled on, and then a further four years of study with extra re-takes for fun. People who pass their first year on their first attempt (a mere 35% of freshers), are considered to be strange. The Frenchie will have qualifications for one particular job, which makes him unable to do anything else. Education is about learning specific facts by rote, and not about learning general skills. A person trained in peeling potatoes is the peeling potatoes person, and will not move onto peeling carrots when there is a potato plummet and a carrot overload. The second constant is that this job will almost certainly involve copious amounts of paperwork. The employee’s job is to lose as many documents as possible, send querying members of the public to small offices at the opposite end of the building which may not exist, and then dump the assembled files into the large underground paper storage rooms upon which most of France is built. Every Frenchie will experience this system as both client and member of staff, leading to a complex game of cat-and-mouse. The basic principle is that the employee must read off necessary documents from a list until he arrives at one that the member of the public cannot provide. This will then be declared the vital document and the case will be dutifully lost within the system, only to re-emerge years later in a filing cabinet at the back of the office labelled ‘Unknown 4451’. The employee can be defeated if the client produces
a document not on the list, outfoxing the system. By twelve o’clock, it is time for The Lunch Break. This will be two hours long, and the whole of France will shut down whilst it takes place. Please, do not try and use your lunch break to go to the bank or run any other errands. You will prevent employees of these institutions from using their most important tactic in the perpetual fight against working more than 35 hours per week. Lunch will be cooked and of three courses, followed by cheese, with the constant companions of wine and baguette throughout. The return to work in the afternoon will seem like a bore. Luckily, it will only be for another two hours, as things start to wind down again at four. This gives the Frenchie time to make his way to second most important arm in the fight to only work 35 hours – le 5 à 7, the ‘five to seven’, which is the name given to the love affair that takes place between these two hours. Having an affair is thus compulsory in France. As most adults are either married, in a PACS (a form of civil partnership) or cohabiting, almost every non-single heterosexual man who has an affair will be having it with a non-single woman. This explains France’s great propensity for revolutions, as with both parents out of the house, children have nothing better to do than conspire to overthrow the government. After everyone has returned to their rightful homes, dinner – usually a lighter meal than lunch - will be served. This should be the time to experiment with haute cuisine of small but exquisite portions. The evening will be spent either battling with another branch of the administrative system (see above), or drinking in a quasi-civilised manner – i.e. drinking as much as people do in the UK, but without throwing up in the gutter or peeing at bus stops afterwards. Bedtime and sweet dreams prepare the Frenchie to repeat it all tomorrow. Eleanor is really enjoying life in the sunshine of southern France. To make the most her plentiful free time, she has joined the university orchestra and is training for a triathlon. »
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Yasin Sridhar in Bordeaux, France A Day in the Life of French Yaz
n engine sound startles me at some ungodly hour on the morning of my exams. It’s not a thunderous roar nor an eerie scream, but an incessant drone that lasts for over an hour. In my delirious state of confusion, I assume that it’s merely the bin men, who typically drop by early to share tales. But when I fully awake to the sounds of sirens and trucks, I finally decide to peer out of the window to see what I have missed. Cars are being heaved away in the dozens, the victims of an arson attack that left the placid parking lot in front of the park not fifty metres from my flat looking like the scene of a scorched-earth campaign. I don’t have much time to appreciate the carnage. Since I have got three oral exams today, I book a ticket to the centre of all my Bordeaux journeys: Quinconces. Stationed next to the tramline are a series of Ferris wheels, rollercoasters, and crêpe stands. Overnight, the carnival has set up shop, with dubious-looking rides called “EXTASY” and “The Love Circle” bound to make the weak-stomached chunder. After a brief glance, I rush to the tram destined to (eventually) arrive at the intellectual high grounds of Bordeaux IV Université Montesquieu, but not before breaking down at least once. It is fascinating to see the tram pass through a UNESCO World Heritage site before transitioning into what looks like a derelict housing project in a Spike Lee film. Oh wait - that’s my university. The old adage of not judging a book by its cover is halftrue when it comes to the academics of Bordeaux. The same professeur who welcomed the handful of Erasmus students in his Master’s classes with open arms now makes the same gesture to introduce us to our doom: a double-header oral exam on aviation and competition law. I pick a topic out of a hat and splutter through it with only mild interruptions of coughing and wheezing, which Monsieur Grard doesn’t seem to care about. He seems more interested in how, upon discovering my Canadian origins, Quebecois liquor cartels operate. And who knew that the professor who looked like Jabba the Hutt – having openly confessed to not liking students, attesting to having a preference for
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“fresh meat” (yes, that kind), and perversely describing Senegalese women – would arbitrarily give me a good mark after I said but a single sentence on decentralised administration in France. The drawback was that he then reminisced on how the preceding Irish student had reminded him of a time when he visited Ireland and hit it off with a pretty Irish lass. In his words, “unfortunately, my wife was there.” Génial. Shortly thereafter, I seek out the university doctor to treat what I believe to be the common cold. You know, the usual high fever, congestion, general weakness, and coughing up blood. When the nurse rounds the corner, she practically has a heart attack. In hindsight, I can see why. I had not managed to muster the strength to shave in a week and had a healthy mix of saliva, blood, and phlegm dripping from my chin. I whisper that I need a doctor to prescribe me medication, but she says that I’ll have to book an appointment at a nearby clinic as there is no doctor at the university today. The last time I tried to book an appointment at that clinic, I was waitlisted for a month. I would have better luck getting Olympics tickets. This would lead me to walk about with what turned out to be pneumonia for two weeks. I turned down a chance to see a jazz concert held in a former submarine warehouse because I am throwing a patented house party. After popping a slew of medicines to allay my illness, I regaled myself in the fact my house ends up packed with uninvited, smoke-spewing francophones, who turned my bathroom into an ashtray from Mad Men. In the morning, I awake to find my shower pipe hanging off the wall. It would later be revealed to have caused a massive leak in the flat below, resulting in a week without any water in the flat courtesy of incompetent plumbers. But that’s another story. This was just a day in the life of French Yaz. Yasin is the former captain of the Bristol athletics team. While abroad, he took up salsa lessons and savat (boxe française) to build on his previous experiences in dance and martial arts.
Visit to Various Legal Landmarks across the UK
In an unconventional ‘photo essay’, Monica Gao presents her journey through the law.
espite inexhaustible legal knowledge and abstract rationales, one might still fancy getting an exposure to the vivid scenes and thought bodies behind the influential cases. Or you may be so immersed in the case as to begin consciously playing the role as a contractor in a neighbouring Boots Pharmacy shop. Whilst attending a party at a café, you order a ginger beer and anticipate a sneaky snail to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Donoghue v. Stevenson. The law permeates all walks of life. As such, lawyerly thinking rarely stops running. Legal scholars fancy special kinds of enjoyment. We are keen to engage in monumental gatherings such as the Law Sunday Service at Bristol Cathedral. At the formal opening of Michaelmas Law Term, I witnessed the procession of various judges and administrators wearing historical and cultural costumes. On that occasion, I even got a photograph with Baroness Hale. In particular, I was also attracted by the furry hats and bright costumes of the Lord Mayors at the historic event. Next, I visited the City Council. Some former Lord Mayors and current councillors welcomed me
into the Lord Mayors’ Parlour Room. They are seasoned professionals, and one of them was actually a lawyer. In the course of business, they had just finished the licensing of privately rented housing. Not surprisingly, they have discretionary powers over such issues. What attracted me further were the sword and truncheon displayed in the Parlour Room—the ones which I had seen on the Law Sunday. Meanwhile, a spectacular view is available in the Lord Mayor’s mansion house. That day, they showed me around the city house and shared their insight on the public meetings held there. Having visited these landmarks, I now returned to reading cases about city councils with earnest interest. Aside from leisure in daily life and the professional community, I should seriously plan my legal career in order to sharpen a motive and direction of study. For instance, what would a barrister’s daily work be like? The thought of this already seems intellectually captivating. Monica Gao is an first-year MA Law student from China, who is interested in European travelling.
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In The Spotlight
Getting a Brazilian, Bristol Style: The
UBLC Spring Ball
Eloise Pollard shares the Spring Ball committee’s experience of hosting the biggest social event of the year.
wo months, six law students, and over two hundred e-mails. The Hogan Lovells Spring Ball first began in January when we nervously met to discuss how to transport seven hundred law students and staff into a tropical, carnival paradise. Little did we know that the roller-coaster of work and emotion would be the organisation of this event. It was brilliantly entertaining but also soul-destroying. I think it is safe to say that we all felt immensely proud, relieved, and even a little bit sad when the baby that we had nurtured for fifty-eight days became a huge success. It did not quite feel like a normal ball: after spending hours deciding on entertainment, timing, and positioning, you lose the ‘wow’ factor that Spring Balls normally have. Whilst dealing with various drunken people, running around for payments, and keeping the night running smoothly, you would unfortunately miss out on some of the entertainment, drinking, and dancing. However, the effort was worthwhile as we all had an amazing time. We could not have accomplished it with a better group of girls. Danni Palmer was the best Chair we could have asked for, whilst Bex Glossop, Sarah Bratton, Becca Bland, and Lauren Webb made the committee truly special. To give you a flavour of what it is really like to organise a Spring Ball, I have compiled a top-ten list of realisations that we were mindful of whilst planning the largest law school event of the year. 1. We really enjoyed working as part of a team. Cooperation makes everything less stressful. 2. Do not stress over the little things; there is always another solution. 3. Things are a lot more expensive than you can possibly imagine. 4. Taxi (and coach) companies are infuriating. Even if you confirm with a taxi company that you mean 5:15 PM, they would still turn
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up at 5:15 AM. 5. Last minute tasks always take you longer than you thought they would. 6. Organising an event involves more time and people than you ever realised. 7. All the stress is worth it, when everything comes together on the night and the event turns out better than ever imagined! 8. You can achieve a lot more than you thought possible. 9. There are always hidden costs, beware! 10. Pre-Spring Ball Diets are never successful. Finally, I asked the other committee members if they could describe what organising the Spring Ball was like in three words. I think a recurring theme is apparent. Danni: “Hectic, Stressful, Exhilarating.” Bex: “Hilarious, Exciting, Nerve-wracking.” Sarah: “An amazing experience.” Lauren: “Challenging, Crazy, Fun.” Becca: “Hard work pays off… oh wait that’s four.” In short, if you want an early onset of a heart attack but great fun in achieving it, apply to join the committee to organise the next UBLC Spring Ball! P.S. We would like to thank J+J for helping us along the way, our sponsor Hogan Lovells, and all the members of the law school for turning up and making the event a huge success. Eloise Pollard is a second-year LLB Law student, the Vice President of the Bar Society 2013/14 and Vice Chair of the Spring Ball Committee 2013.
Letter from the President
Dear UBLC, Why not? These are the two words that persuaded me to run for President – little did I know what to expect. A year on, after all of the ups and downs, I can conclude that it has been one of the most interesting, hectic, demanding, and fulfilling experiences. This was an exciting year for UBLC, with the new events of Lawyers vs. Engineers and the Careers Dinner expanding the already plentiful UBLC calendar, along with the new ‘Year Abroad’ blog on our website which all proved to be popular. Admittedly, not all has been smooth sailing, and as Harry McVea stated as a matter of fact, “every President cries at least once” – reassuring words. Whether it was the coaches not arriving (now an annual tradition) at the Winter Law Ball, or realising how not to do small talk - do not discuss the Burger King ‘King of the Day’ meal deal in depth with graduate recruitment, it has certainly been a steep learning curve. A notable achievement was being recognised by all the staff in Natwest, and committing the UBLC account number to memory. A low point (but hilarious to friends) was probably dreaming about Freshers’ Fair and muttering “we have the best freebies” in my sleep. It goes without saying that I would like to thank the UBLC Committee for all their hard work. I would also like to recognise the support that UBLC receives from the Law School, with particular thanks to Aaron Khan, Phil Syrpis, Vijay Chandy, and Matti Punt. A mention must also be made to our sponsors, without whom much of what we do would not be possible. Finally, I would also like to thank the members of the UBLC themselves who are involved in what we have to offer, whether it is enjoying socials or taking part in competitions, the reward of being part of the UBLC was the hope that a positive contribution has been made. I will finish with the words of Antaole France, who stated that “to accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.” Good luck to the new UBLC committee, and to all UBLC members, whatever you endeavour to achieve. Best wishes, Jenny Cook UBLC President 2012/13
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Cup Debating Competition Hannah Larsen, Chair of the Debate 2012/13, revisits this year’s Hunt Cup.
ave you ever thought of our legal system as a house with a leaky roof ? Perhaps not, but as we have seen this year, an eloquent debater can persuade you that even far removed analogies make sense. Once again, the Hunt Cup debating competition has provided exciting, thought-provoking debate, and even quite a few humorous moments. The competition is a long established tradition in the UBLC extra-curricular calendar, founded in the name of Lord David Hunt of Wirral, himself a Bristol law graduate and partner of DAC Beachcroft LLP. The firm has offered continuous support for the competition, as lawyers from across the firm come to each debate to provide debaters with valuable individual feedback and decide who will proceed to the next round. The competition began with 64 debaters from across the law school, arranged into pairs to support or oppose the motion. Debaters battled their way through a spectrum of motions from “legal aid should be replaced with a legal insurance scheme” to “terrorist groups receive too much publicity.” A range of techniques and approaches emerged as each pair set out to confound their opponents. In addition, post debate questioning often provided them with the opportunity to shine and shoe horn in extra research that they had not managed to cram into their 7 minutes. The year culminated in a stellar performance from our finalists: Richard Collier, Harris Kaufman, Rachel Innes, and Ned Smith, as they argued the motion “this house believes that our legal system is designed to convict the innocent.” The motion proved popular with both debaters and audience members who drew on their own experiences of the legal system or criminal law unit grades. This also exemplified that, to the audience’s amusement, gaining a first or lower second did not affect a student’s ability to persuade. The floor debate lasted almost as long as the debate itself, subjecting debaters to intense questioning from the large audience. The judges from DAC Beachcroft, Helen Staines (partner), Patrick Firebrace (finance director) and Leon Smith (solicitor), remarked at how impressed they had been with competitors throughout the entire competition. However, after a long period of deliberation and having awarded the worthy finalists very close scores, they announced Richard as the winner and Harris as runner up. I must thank Saiff Akbar (the UBLC’s Third Year Representative) for his assistance throughout the year and DAC Beachcroft for their ongoing sponsorship. Finally, I would like to introduce my successor Aaron Lee, whom I am sure will enjoy his year as Chair of the Debate as much as I have.
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The Herbert Smith Freehills Mooting Competition
Zachary Tan, Master of the Moot 2012/2013. presents the highlights of this yearâ€™s mooting competition.
ooting, to me, is somewhat like persuading your grandfather to buy a car for you. You want to keep him happy, so you listen patiently to everything he has to say. You try to persuade him that the reasons you want a car are legitimate and that he should decide against your mother, who at first instance, declined your car wish. You pull off a few tricks of charm but want to remain respectful at all times. Indeed, everyone has different approaches to what effective advocacy means and different judges have different expectations of competitors. However, one thing with regard to mooting at Bristol is for certain â€“ one cannot be said to have had a meaningful law school experience without getting in contact with the Herbert Smith Freehills Mooting Competition over the course of the 3 or 4 years here at Bristol, whether as competitor or spectator. The finals this year were an astounding success, with an overwhelming attendance at the Civil Justice Centre. It was an exciting time for twelve of the competitors, but only three could walk away with a champion cup in their hands. The excitement and tension in the air was compounded by the presence of many supporters that evening. At the end of the evening, Caroline Chew (1st Year), Daniel Bishop (2nd Year) and Steven Hunter (3rd Year) emerged victorious to set their names down in mooting history at Bristol. The evening came to a fantastic finale with the reception at the Glass Boat where the winners celebrated their victories and everyone sat down for a delightful meal. We extend our greatest appreciation to everyone who has made this competition a success. We also wish our successors all the best in organising the competition next year.
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Sarah Bratton, Social Secretary 2012/13, reminisces over a successful year of UBLC socials.
BLC socials have always been a big part of the Law School at Bristol. A well deserved break from our studies, they are notorious for being both extravagant and diverse. And this year did not disappoint. The social year kicked off with the Freshers Party, where the Freshers were introduced to the delights of the Triangle and Lizard Lounge. Soon after followed the Parenting Launch which saw groups of students dressed as “babies” and “old people” unite and bond as the next generation of “law families” was formed. November 2012 also saw the introduction of the first ever Law Careers Dinner, which was a great success. Sponsored by ten top law firms from around the UK, the Careers Dinner was a great opportunity for students to network with multiple firms over a three course meal at a beautiful Harbourside venue. A bit of healthy rivalry is always popular between university societies and Lawyers v Engineers proved to be a very popular event. As a new social for 2012, I am proud to say that Team Law was successful in gaining its first win over Team Engineers, hopefully an achievement that will be repeated in future years. Team Law also put up a good fight in Lawyers v Vedics, donning their blue t-shirts once more to prove that Lawyers are
the best! The night was an outstanding success, with over 1,000 students attending from over the four societies. Now, onto the Balls: well known as the major events of the UBLC social year, the Winter and Spring Balls were bigger and better than ever. At Christmas we saw the Passenger Shed transformed into an underground speakeasy, inspired by the Jazz Age, and the Great Gatsby. A lavish Champagne reception was followed by a delicious three course dinner, meanwhile flapper girls danced the Charleston and the sounds of the 1920s filled the room. Spring Ball saw the stunning venue of Leigh Court transformed into the tropical paradise of Brazil in a Carnival themed extravaganza. Alongside the usual fairground rides, free popcorn and candy-floss were available all night long whilst exotic performers, face painting and Brazilian dancers provided exciting entertainment throughout the evening. Being the Social Secretary for the UBLC has been both fun and challenging and has made my time at Bristol even more unforgettable. I wish Emily, the next Social Sec, all the best and long may the amazing socials continue!
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Freshers’ Trip to Brighton Pouyan Maleki-Dizaji, First Year Representative 2012/13, revisits his experiences on the Freshers’ Trip to Brighton.
he fresher’s trip to the seaside town of Brighton for a weekend of madness was certainly one of the highlights of the first term. Despite an agonisingly long coach journey due to severe traffic, we were greeted by an endless supply of domino’s pizza when we arrived. The delays meant that the night was already upon us so there was no messing around - we dislodged our bags in the rooms, ran to the closest off-license, and commenced the partying! The morning ride on the Brighton wheel would have been the perfect consolation to our hangovers if it were not for the sea mist restricting our view to no further than a few hundred meters. However, the grim weather was not going to stop us from making the most of the weekend. The treasure hunt that followed gave us a great opportunity to explore the gay capital of the UK. In the evening we were treated to good old seaside fish ’n’ chips, followed by a bar crawl, and finished the night off at one of Brighton’s biggest clubs. Prior to Brighton, most of the people who went on the trip could probably have counted the amount of lawyers that they knew on one hand. Fortunately, the trip offered a chance to break the ice and properly get to know some of the people whom we would be studying with for the next three years. Most of us have kept in touch with the friends we met on the fresher’s trip. The trip also offered a great chance to chat with the UBLC committee, whom we asked endless questions about what being a law student was like and how to master the tricks of the trade. All in all, the fresher’s trip was money well spent. I would recommend any students coming to Bristol next year to go on it too.
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Law Sports Josh Carruthers, Male Sports Representative 2012/13, celebrates a year of triumphs for the UBLC sports teams.
ith the sporting calendar drawing to a close, it is time to look back on another successful season for the sports teams. The UBLC has a thriving sporting community and this year has seen five teams compete in weekly intramural matches. As the Male Sports Rep, it has been fantastic to see so many students representing their society and participating in sport this year. Indeed, the football team saw a remarkable 30 players turn out for the first training session of the year. The greatest sporting achievement this year has come from the basketball team who capped a fine season by winning the intramural play-offs. Law kicked off the regular season with a dominant 50-30 victory over Economics. The following round of matches saw Law comfortably beat their fierce rivals, the Medics, in a game which finished 62-29. The team’s unstoppable run of form led all the way to All Star Saturday where they produced a commanding display in the final to overcome Economics for the second time. On the same day UBLC’s very own Justin Pak won the 3-point shootout to round off an outstanding season for Law basketball. This year has also been memorable for the football team. After a slow start
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to the season, Law, playing in their new kit, secured a first win with a resounding 12-1 victory over the Engineers. Despite a string of games being cancelled due to poor weather over the winter period, Law continued to recover from their poor start. The team completed a well-deserved double over a solid Christian Union side, beating them 1-0 home and away. The team finished the season on a high with a stunning 6-0 victory over top of the table ESN. This result was particularly encouraging and bodes well for the future of Law football. The players also have the famous end of year tour to look forward this summer. The side went to Prague in 2012 and this year’s tour promises to be even better, with talk of Sofia or Budapest as potential destinations. Meanwhile, it has been a season of highs and lows for the UBLC rugby team. Despite a promising start to their campaign at the Opening Festival in October, the team has really struggled to cement a starting XV. Law has nonetheless produced a number of impressive performances, including a hard-fought victory over the Engineers in a scrappy game at Coombe Dingle. In the summer there is also the opportunity for students to participate in the intramural cricket
tournament which culminates in a Finals Day. This popular event is always a highlight of the sporting calendar and allows competitors to enjoy a barbeque and a cold beer after exams. Unfortunately the female sports teams have suffered from a shortage of players this year. However, there have still been some great games. Captained by Marcia Owusu-Mfum, Law netball were involved in a tight match against PsychSoc which eventually finished 2-1 after a last-minute winner. Equally, the hockey team have played a number of enjoyable games under the leadership of Liz Longster and Kamil Butt. It has been a pleasure to be involved with UBLC sports this year. I would like to thank Freshfields, Linklaters, Addleshaw Goddard and Travers Smith for their generous sponsorship. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported the teams this year, in particular our predecessors Jon Down and Harri Davies, whose experience has been invaluable. Finally, I want to wish our successors the best of luck for next season which I am sure will be just as successful.
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