Editorial Greetings! I am the editor for this, the first ever edition of Benches, Bars and Briefs. As such I am mostly making it up as I go along. However, it may still be a useful guide to all those things you need to do on top of your degree that no one tells you about until youâ€™re actually at university and your fees have been paid. You may have noticed, on my only slightly pretentious cover, that this is a Bar Society Publication. The Society is newly formed and is, in essence, here for all those students that want to go to the Bar, that just want to learn a bit about the Bar, or are really unsure about whether they want to be a Barrister, Solicitor, or any other kind of lawyer. We soon realised this meant everyone, so when pondering how to best get some information across I came up with the idea of this Magazine. People thought it was a great idea and continued to smile at me in silence until I realised that, it being my idea, I was the one who actually had to do it. This was unfortunate because I really donâ€™t know how to put a magazine together, plus its a lot of work and I have grown accustomed to doing nothing during my summer. As for me, I think I want to go to the Bar, but this does seem to change on a daily basis, and so, whilst this will have a Barrister theme running throughout, it should benefit all students regardless of their chosen pathway. The careers section itself discusses a number of career choices and all of the extracurricular activities are suitable, and indeed necessary, for any law student heading into any legal profession. I may have adopted a less than professional style throughout, but hopefully this means you can read it and only occasionally feel like you are learning. However for the next edition I could always use a hand, so get in contact if you want to be involved. Have a look through, read about the society and some careers tips, and then pass it on, or at the very least remember to recycle. Alistair Henwood
Meeting the team behind the society, seeing just what we do, and news on our first social event of the year! Also learn how to contact us.
Information on all things professional, from the inns of court to work experience and pro bono work, along with news on the various mooting competitions. This is the bit to bolster that CV of yours.
A list of the events we will be holding throughout the year, a chance for you to give feedback, and information on what will be our wonderful world wide website.
The Society So I will try to describe our two-tiered society and keep it brief…there are two tiers, one being the officers shown below, and one being the Committee which hovers above them, generally making them uncomfortable and ill at ease. The officers below run the Society and its events throughout the year so they are the ones to contact with enquires. A Note from the President: Hello all, I am very excited to introduce the all new Bar Society. We will be organising events, workshops and various mooting competitions in order to assist you in making an informed choice as to your legal career. If you have any questions either come along to our social where you can meet the team in an informal setting, or drop us an email.
The President – Victoria Brookes She’s smart, she’s stunning, and she insisted on full copy approval for this page. Victoria is a final year LLB student who, in her spare time, runs this whole thing. Doubtless you will all meet her at the September Social event.
Mistress of Moots – Sarah-Jane Our international mooting maverick, with a CV spanning two continents, (three, if you include the commute), sends law students across the lands running for the hills, but despite this she really is very friendly and approachable.
Treasurer – Ahmed Shahin Another third year LLB student, Ahmed handles the money without the promise of a bonus. He had a look into it and told us we don’t have enough to give him. He is also experienced in Mooting and Pro-bono work.
Public Relations Officer - Madni We needed someone who was confident and comfortable being in the limelight. We saw this picture and knew we had the right man. He’s a third year LLb student and he’ll be your point of contact for this year.
The Committee? The committee oversees the long term prospects of the Society. You may see a few of us around scrutinising events and generally trying to take advantage of any refreshments on offer. If you feel you cannot talk to the officers you can send an email citing ‘For the Committee,’ however we will only get involved actively in the day to day running of the Society on rare occasions.
We Are Recruiting! We are recruiting a new officer from amongst the first years, you lucky dogs, you. You will be expected not only to represent your year but also to take an active role in event organisation. This requires a bit of a commitment, but could be a valuable experience for anyone on the lookout for ...valuable experiences. Contact us, stating First Year Rep in the subject matter on email@example.com. See the feedback section if you wish to help with the second edition of this magazine.
Social Believe it or not, even when part of a professional society designed to help law students, we still like to socialise. Therefore we thought a properly planned pub excursion at the beginning of the year was in order. Whether you drink water or waste spirits by setting half of them on fire you are welcome to attend. This is your chance to meet like minded students and our officers for this year...weâ€™ve even made an advocacy game for you all to try. More on this later.
4pm Onwards (Literally we will be there all night) Wednesday 28th September Cittie of York Pub High Holborn WC1V 6BT
Contacting Us Eventually we will be getting ourselves some nice shiny new individual email contacts for each of our officersâ€Ś.for now we have one: firstname.lastname@example.org If you need to contact a specific officer then let us know in the subject matter. We are also on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/University-of-Westminster-BarSociety/112627198825430
Careers Below is some basic information designed to help bolster your CV and get you onto your required vocational course. (BPTC for barristers & LPC for Solicitors.) Getting into a legal profession is not easy, but start ticking the boxes for work experience and extracurricular activities and it will help you on your way.
Inns of Court There are four Inns of Court; Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. All students wishing to become barristers must join an Inn as it is they who are able to call you to the Bar.
The Inns can be invaluable to all students however as they, hold events throughout the year to supplement university education and introduce students to legal concepts and professionals. We will be advertising such events and organising groups of students to attend them. Don’t forget that they can offer scholarships and funding for certain courses & activities too.
Legal Pathways Does anyone really know what to do after their degree? Yes…probably. But for those of us who are still unsure here’s a quick breakdown of the three main professions. A good law degree can also get you into different types of Clerking and Paralegal work so get in touch with the legal careers tutors for more information. Barristers – Students heading to the Bar are required to qualify from the BPTC, and obtain a pupillage at Chambers. Certain sections of your pupillage can be taken in various legal and governmental organisations as well however. As a Barrister you will be selfemployed, (unless you end up in the CPS) and have greater rights of audience than most legal professionals. The amount you are in court will largely depend on your practice area (Crime means a lot of court, commercial generally means less.)
Solicitors – Instead of the BPTC, solicitors take the LPC and require a Training Contract at a firm. (These are usually given two years in advance so make sure you look into it early enough.) Solicitors are getting more audience rights in court but it will take you a number of years to first make submissions. The job is usually salaried, which can be a bonus, and you will be working in a team to a greater extent. Legal Executive – Legal executives require qualifications at levels 3 & 6 from an ILEX course, and 5 years qualifying employment to become a Fellow, (enabling them to become a partner within a firm or even a judge. It is also relatively straight forward to convert to being a solicitor.) There is also a Fast Track Course for Law students, after which you will still need to complete the qualifying employment. The fast track is a lot cheaper than either the LPC or BPTC, and with the length of the qualifying employment currently being under review this is a viable alternative as a legal profession. (For further information contact Kate Sutherland (email@example.com)
Mooting Advocacy competitions, known as Moots, enable students to improve their persuasive speaking ability, along with their legal research skills. This is done within a mock trial where you will be expected to answer questions on your own submissions. Khurram Ali, within the faculty, organises external competitions for the Law School such as ESU, OUP and ICLR. In addition there is the internal competition sponsored by Stone Chambers who provide mini-pupillages for the winners.
First Year Advocacy Unit: Designed to be accessible to students with little mooting experience this module introduces the rules of mooting and teaches how to mount a persuasive argument. Tutorials include practitioner talks and the unit culminates in a final assessed moot.
Contact our Mistress of the Moots for details on the following mooting and debating competitions: 1. Bar Society First Year Mooting Competition Riding on its success from last year this is an internal competition for all first years to get to grips with. It is designed for students interested in mooting but who are unable to do the Mooting Module. Left: Our brilliant first year mooters, judges and organisers from last year’s competition. Don’t worry I know what you’re thinking and we will have a proper photographer this year.
'In the beginning i was quite nervous, however, when I stood up and started mooting, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Winning a mini-pupillage provided my partner and I an opportunity that most 1st year students do not get.' Sarah-Jane 2nd Year Law with French 2. Hertfordshire National Advocacy Competition Not a standard mooting ‘Engaging in pre-trial and competition as the advocacy is Mock Trial scenarios including more procedural and therefore examination in chief and crossrequires a different skill set. The examination, in front of competition takes place over a practicing judges and criminal weekend, with Hertfordshire barristers, was challenging, yet providing accommodation, and exciting. The Competition it will test and develop your allprovided unequalled round advocacy skill. There are networking opportunities that mini-pupillages lined up for the will open doors in the future.' winners and number of other prizes for the runners up. Sarah-Jane 2nd Year Law with French
3. Inner Temple The Mooting society within Inner Temple holds an inter-varsity competition for university students for which we will be preparing a team. This is a fantastic opportunity to get noticed and familiarise yourself with one of the Inns of Court. 4. London Universities Mooting Competition This is awesomeâ€Ś (I may be the biased Chairman of LUMS this year.) It is a league based competition which allows your team a minimum of nine moots, which is rare considering most competitions are knock outs. The standard is high but it is also very social, especially on the Kaplan weekend away in Wales, and boasts rounds in such venues as the Royal Courts of Justice and the Supreme Courtâ€Śand if I have anything to do with it the Old Bailey as well this year. It is a great way to learn and develop skills throughout the year and meet students from other universities.
Debating This is an excellent way to practice public speaking and reasoning skills. We will be holding two debates throughout the year based on legal-type issues and are looking to develop our debating program with the universityâ€™s debating society. Get in touch as we hope to see competitions and events increase in this area.
Negotiation Whilst I have heard mixed reports, I believe the Law School will be entering a team for a negotiation competition this year. We won the regional round of this competition last year, well done Martin Cubash and Zee Gaines, and I would recommend applying as there are not many opportunities to learn such skills before the vocational courses. Keep an eye out for those emails. (This is not organised by the Bar Society.
Work Experience You should begin to build a portfolio of work experience, to show on your CV an interest in law and help you figure out what area of the law and of the profession you wish to head for. Do it as soon as possible, it looks better, it gives you more time, and it also gives you more confidence. 1. Mini-Pupillage This is essential for anyone heading to the Bar. In general you will require a minimum of two, but it is not necessary to obtain any more than four. The experiences can differ wildly depending upon whom you undertake them with, however they will largely entail following a barrister for anywhere between two days to two weeks. Some may also be assessed and can be an important step towards pupillage. For general information on mini’s: http://www.lawcareers.net/barristers/minipupillages.aspx http://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/index.php/careers/mini-pupillage http://l2b.thelawyer.com/mini-pupillages/131692.article 2. Vacation Schemes Whilst you can get informal work experience at some firms by asking directly, the formal opportunity for budding solicitors is the vacation scheme. These are largely offered by medium–sized and City firms and usually last from 1 to 4 weeks. The nature of schemes vary from firm to firm but are generally designed to scrutinise the candidates for Training Contracts. It is best to be able to demonstrate prior legal experience, participation in extracurricular activities and a commercial awareness. For more information: http://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/index.php/careers/vacation-schemes/ http://www.lawcareers.net/solicitors/workplacementSchemes.aspx http://www.lawcareers.net/solicitors/workplacementDeadlines.aspx 3. Marshalling Like Mini-pupillages but with Judges! The experience will differ depending on the judge, so you could end up discussing the cases in detail or you could just do a lot of sitting…but this is well worth it for interested students. Check the Inns of Court websites for Marshalling opportunities.
Pro bono These are just some suggestions, don’t be afraid to go and look for more opportunities. 1. Free Representation Unit (FRU) FRU enables third year students to take entire ‘How do you find responsibility for real cases, from interviewing the defendant?’ clients, to negotiation with the other side, to ‘He’s in the corner representing your client in employment or social your honour.’ security tribunals. (http:www.thefru.org.uk/) 2. Planning Aid This provides free planning advice to those unable to afford professional fees. There are numerous volunteering positions ranging from publicity to working on advice lines. The position offered to you will be based on your application however. 3. University of Westminster Pro-Bono Clinic
‘I am a caseworker and The Law School has its own Prointerpreter at the bono clinic. Again this is largely for second years and above. Get in Westminster Pro Bono Centre contact with David Roberts or drop as well as the Westminster into the centre right next door to the Citizens Advice Bureau…The Pro Bono centre deals mostly front entrance to the Little Titchfield with legal issues and sees Street Building. There are however fewer clients, whilst the CAB plenty of other organisations, such will see more clients but refer as the C.A.B. legal cases on.’ (www.citizensadvice.org.uk) Ahmed Shahin 3rd Year LLb 4. University of Westminster Innocence Project There are number of Innocence projects running across the country. The Law School’s project is supported by Tooks Chamber. The project is designed to review cases of convicted persons in order to aid an appeal. Generally this is reserved for second years and higher, but you should contact Stephanie Roberts for more information. (http://www.wmin.ac.uk/law/page-633)
Bar Society Events By now you may have got the impression we just do mooting…but that’s only half true. We will be putting on a number of other events which are well worth attending. Whilst these are listed below they may be subject to change, and more may be added so keep reading those emails. 1. Article Publication Event A presentation by Dr Lisa Webley upon student article publications. There are a number of university law journals designed for students to publish articles on a variety of issues, and the law profession loves people who are published. Anyone looking for a way to stand out on their CV should attend. 2. Kaplan Bar School CV Presentation A representative of the Kaplan Law School, has kindly agreed to give a presentation on legal CV’s. They are well placed to talk on such matters as some of you will be applying to them for your vocational courses. Inner Temple Event A talk will be given by a number of Barristers, of various levels of seniority, upon their experiences at the Bar. There will also be a chance to network after the presentation.
3. Practitioner Event Practitioners from different fields, an employed and an independent barrister, a legal executive and a solicitor all get together to talk through their respective employment. And you lovely people get to ask them questions and play them off each other. Remember we will also be holding mooting and debating competitions throughout the year and possibly more events in the second semester. Once the dates are confirmed we will be in touch.
Feedback I don’t think this has gone all that badly considering I had no budget or even any ideas to begin with. But I realise there are improvements to be made…so lay it on me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or even better…join me. I will be organising a second edition for the second semester so if you want to get involved organising articles, formatting or even contributing written pieces let me know asap. Otherwise let me know what you liked about this edition, what was missing, what did you want more of, was the level of information too little or too much?
Our Website westminsterbarsociety.net Our website is currently under construction, but once it is unveiled in all its wondrous glory to the world it will be the hub, nay confluence of information for you all. Obviously this may take some time so to begin with we plan to have some basic information on careers, and application deadlines (for mini-pupillages, vacation schemes and vocational programmes.) It will also be a way of contacting us and giving feedback. But most importantly…it will house an electronic copy of this magazine. We will send an email around when it is launched.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank every member of the faculty, society and my friends for coping with my incessant emails, which tended to progress in insistency. I could not have put this magazine together without meeting with the faculty and asking for the information…because I literally didn’t know half of it myself. I would ,in that way, like to apologise for the rather large amount of editing that information then had to go through…here’s to the next edition. Specifically I must thank Jeanette Nicholas, Fred Motson and Khurram Ali for their contributions within the careers sections, and David Amos, Kate Sutherland and Elizabeth Duff for taking the time to meet with me. Without their time, which I am fully aware I took up during the admissions period, this magazine would have been much thinner and far less useful. I must also thank Ralph Harper, my friend and housemate, for the supreme amount of help and time he has given to help me format the magazine and generally teach me about technology. Additionally I must thank Laura Thompson. Without Laura none of us would know the joy that a lawyer stickman can bring to our lives…I mean how good is that bulldozer one? Finally my thanks to the officers and society members for their contributions, most of which I then changed after having chased and annoyed them for days on end. Alistair Henwood Editor