Life after University
After completing my law degree at the University of Manchester in 2004, the pressure was on to decide which path I wanted to take: whether I wanted to be a barrister or a solicitor or whether I even wanted to pursue a career in law. However, the decision was not so tough for me as I had made my decision about the profession I wanted to go into when I was aged just 14. I knew I wanted to be a barrister and it was my love of advocacy that drew me to the profession.
A Pupillage in London
As soon as I finished my law degree, I applied to do the Bar Vocational Course (BVC - now the BPTC) at The Inns of Court School of Law in London (now The City Law School). Before I had completed my BVC, I had already been offered a pupillage at 14 Grays Inn Square. Based in the centre of London, this was a predominantly family law set with a strong reputation in all aspects of family law. As I knew how difficult it was – and still is – to obtain a pupillage, the assurance that I had already obtained a pupillage gave me an incentive to work even harder during the BVC.
Moving back North
The hustle and bustle and the fast pace of London life is something I will never forget. It was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and I feel it helped me to grow as an individual. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of living and working in London, I soon began to realize how increasingly expensive the city was. I decided to return to my hometown of Manchester and continue my career as a barrister there. In Manchester, I joined Kenworthy’s Chambers, one of the most sought after barrister’s chambers in the North of England and a leading set in Immigration and Asylum Law. I continued to practice in Family Law and also added Immigration and Asylum Law to my practice.
Welcome to City!
You'll probably still be feeling a mix of excitement and fear at this stage but just remember that's the same story for everyone sitting alongside you in the lecture theatre.
Best way to put your mind at rest is to hear from others who have been through what you're about to start...that's where the blog, Future Lawyer, comes in. It's THE place to come to read posts on anything law-careers related, to watch/listen to interviews with our alumni and to read up on news and events.
Lawbore has lots to keep you going - keep informed on what legal events are going on around London on City Hub, find guidance on everything from legal writing to mooting on Learnmore and loads of recommendations of what to read via the Directory.The Newbies section in Learnmore is a useful place to start if this is your first time at University.
To get you started here are a couple of recommendations featuring our alumni:
Saad was on our LLB programme, graduating in 2011.
Jonathan Evans was on the GDL at City in 2009-2010.
Judicial Assistants work closely with their allocated Justices so the nature of the role varies, but everyone prepares short summaries of applications for permission to appeal; reads skeleton arguments and authorities, attends hearings and speaks to their Justices about particular appeals; as well as drafting press summaries of judgments. Research is also required for cases and extra-judicial speeches covering topics as varied as the legal history of the wife, the justiciability of foreign affairs in English courts and the treatment of economic torts in Australia.
Highlights of the year included the Assange extradition hearing and sequelae; Rabone, a very sad case concerning whether damages should be available to parents of a woman who committed suicide after release from voluntary mental health treatment and RT (Zimbabwe) in which the Supreme Court held that politically neutral asylum seekers could not be removed to Zimbabwe where they would have to declare allegiance to Zanu-PF.
The role is an extraordinary opportunity to observe on a daily basis advocacy from senior silks on complex and finely balanced points of law. One learns what to do from the best advocates (and, occasionally, what not to do). It is interesting to see how the Justices perceive points: which change minds, which lose cases and which are simply lost in the midst of argument.
I had previously undertaken only a year of legal study in the Graduate Diploma in Law at City University, although many Judicial Assistants have a law degree and/or the BCL. So for me, the opportunity furthered my legal education and understanding. I was exposed to the law of limitation in personal injury, aspects of shipping law, the finer elements of insolvency law and (for an English practitioner at least) more esoteric matters in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council such as Jamaican land law and that concerning the temporary promotion of Trinidadian prison officers. Not all of this will be directly applicable to my practice – but developing the intellectual stamina and flexibility needed to read into four difficult appeals in a week certainly will, as will the assurance acquired by diving frequently into an unknown area of the law and being forced to rapidly develop an understanding.
As part of our "Lost Footage" series of video interviews (recorded in 2010 and disastrously mislaid) comes this gem with Marie-Louise Orre, a City LPC graduate. She talks us through her life as a shipping lawyer, covering what drew her to law, offering interview tips, discussing commercial awareness and the importance of a great academic record with interests outside of law.
Two of our alumni have technology-led start-ups underway:
Lucy Sherwood, City alumni, has launched a brand-new CPD website, LawPod, with her co-founder Rob Bayne. Currently focused on Family Law, the site currently offers podcasts from a variety of family law practitioners but will be branching into other areas in the coming months.
Their launch on the 6th July 2012 was accompanied by the release of an exclusive interview with Mr Justice Ryder setting out the process and timetable for the Family Justice Modernisation Programme.
The changes brought about by the modernisation programme along with the family justice review constitute the most comprehensive and far reaching review of the family justice system since the Children Act 1989.
Mr. Justice Ryder comments: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create and fashion a court in the image that you and I want. The vision we are developing of a new style of family justice is not only right for children, it reflects the public’s expectations of us."
The full interview with Mr Justice Ryder can be downloaded from www.lawpod.org
Lucy Sherwood, Co-Founder of LawPod commented: "LawPod has been created to make CPD learning more stimulating, topical and relevant for legal professionals. This interview with Mr Justice Ryder is a perfect example of our vision for CPD in the future."
STUDENTS NOTE! Rob and Lucy are happy to offer you access to LawPod content free of charge (full-time students only). Send them an email from your law school account with proof of your course start/end dates and all this premium content will be yours.
On 29th June 2012, one of our 2010-2012 cohort, Aurore Hochard, from the Graduate Entry LLB programme got the opportunity to present her new startup TaskHub to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson in French! The Mayor had come to officially open the Wayra Academy in London.
Aurore and her partner Rahul Ahuja were one of 16 companies selected (from 1031 entrants) to join the Wayra UK Academy at the end of May. Wayra described as 'the technology accelerator of O2's parent company Telefonica' by TheNextWeb will give the 16 selected teams office space and a fantastic support network of coaches, mentors and of course, technology for at least six-month period.
Taskhub is described by Aurore as "a buyer initiated peer-to-peer marketplace for services that will help create micro economies in communities across London and the rest of the UK soon after".
So has studying law been any use to Aurore with regards to this new direction in her life?
Although my experience as the COO of a start up and becoming a solicitor seem like 2 very different fields, I believe I would not be where I am today if I had not studied law at City. Thanks to all for your help, I have learnt how to read fast, be critical, analytical, concise and thorough and how to make connections in a very closed industry when I did not have any friend/parent solicitor who could help me.
There's a great feature on Wayra and some of the successful companies, including TaskHub, via TheNextWeb. Watch this space!
Ever wondered what furry walls or fungus have to do with the GDL? Well, it can certainly be part of your future career. And if you think that’s a tall tale, wait till you meet Giles Peaker - successful housing lawyer, Chair of the Housing Law Practitioners' Association, founder and editor of the Nearly Legal: Housing Law News and Comment site and… former GDL student at City University. The Legal 500 2011 describes Giles as "one of the most impressive housing solicitors working today".
As a law student, it’s always gratifying and certainly reassuring to meet GDL alumni who survived the course, been there, done that and went on to reap the rewards of all that hard work. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel after all.
So how did Giles achieve all of this? And more importantly, any tips for us juniors on life as a solicitor and the practice areas of housing and public law in general?
Giles was previously a senior lecturer in History of Art and after a thirteen-year career; he turned to law in pursuit of new challenges and intellectual stimulus. By now, you must be thinking, “Wow, a teacher who went back to school” and wondering what made him take the plunge into law. Giles shared that it was the unique combination of intellectual challenge together with the practical context of real-life facts that attracted him. Likewise, he was drawn to City University’s academic model of the GDL programme as opposed to other GDL providers, which were more formulaic-driven.
After all, isn’t it the academically challenging environment of City that ups the game a notch by allowing us to hone our analytical skills even further? For there’s a heightened sense of satisfaction when you’re able to distinguish yourself from your peers. Hands up, everyone who loves a good intellectual spar.
1) As a Canadian, what city & province are you from and why did you make the choice to come to London & The City Law School?
My decision to leave Vancouver, B.C. to attend law school in London was, well let’s just say, an easy one. Two years in one of the most active legal centres in the world? What more could you want! The work experience, travel experience and life experience that I would gain from attending law school abroad, was definitely enough to make me apply. City had come highly recommended from a friend of mine who had completed the GELLB program two years earlier. The advantages of City being in the centre of London were endless as well- it was an easy pick for me.
2) What were some of the challenges you faced while living and studying in London (please discuss culturally & academically)?
Since opting not to stay in student accommodation, finding a flat to rent was by far my biggest challenge. From not being able to rent a flat without a guarantor, to not being able to open a bank account without an address, to not being able to get a mobile phone without a bank account, made the first few weeks of law school seem like a breeze! Academically, the biggest challenge was teaching myself how to recognise the important concepts while skimming over the less important ones.
3) What were some of the drawbacks of being so far away from home, if any?
I would have to say the biggest drawback for me was the limited ability to network in the city I ideally wanted to work and live- Vancouver.
4) Did you partake in any extra-curricular activities while at City Law? If so, what programs, was it fun & was it valuable to your education & professional endeavours?
Being a bit of a keener, I definitely wanted to participate in everything that came my way. However, despite the little ‘in-class’ time you have, you quickly realise the large independent study component of the course and can really only partake in a few extra-curricular’s- or at least, that’s what I found. I joined the Canadian American Law Society (CALS) as Peer Mentor Chair, which was a great opportunity to help out the community. We were able to organise law events, raise money for charity and volunteer at organizations like Habitat for Humanity. I also participated in the Free Representation Unit (FRU) training and went to the bulk of the legal education career events and open days.
After spending all day reading textbooks and cases, I am incredibly lazy when it comes to reading for pleasure. I don’t want to think too hard about what I am reading, I want something funny, quick and witty. “Ophelia in Pieces” is exactly that, the story of a female criminal barrister and everything that comes with life - interviewer Kate Nutter.
At the launch Edwin Glasgow QC suggested that every BPTC student, or indeed anyone thinking of entering the Criminal Bar should read this book, in order to see the highs and lows that come with the profession. The author, former City GDL student, Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob (who writes under the pen name Clare Jacob) discusses life at City, the profession and the book.
You completed your GDL at City Law School, can you tell us a bit about your time there?
I read English and Italian as an undergraduate and in my last year, I decided I needed to do something so I was more employable. I needed a professional qualification. I met some barristers who seemed intelligent and enjoyed their work. I was also a fan of John Donne and John Webster who qualified as barristers. I was taken with the idea of the law being a training for my mind, in the same way as it was for poets and playwrights in the 17th Century. I decided to become a barrister to understand the world a bit better and more clearly.
Why did you choose City?
I had heard very good things about City. There are not very many places where you can do the conversion course, but City was by far the best. It had very good lecturers, who came from top universities, and a good mixture of lectures and seminars. It was a very intensive course, but I needed it because it was a quick entry into a career. I enjoyed my year at City University. It was very focused and there were lots of very interesting people. It was where I met my husband, who was on the same course.
Is there one thing that you wish you had known before starting law school?
I suppose I feel about this about university generally:I wish I had worked harder at university, because the harder you work, the more you get out of it academically. On the other hand it is impossible to say that, because the reason you are not so engaged with university work is because you are engaged in lots of other things and growing up. I have never regretted working too hard at something, but I have regretted not making the extra effort sometimes.
Back in 2010 I persuaded a selection of our lovely students and alumni to do a series of video interviews.
Alas disaster struck when the cameraman went majorly AWOL during editing and the footage seemed lost to Lawbore forever:-( However they have been miraculously uncovered so we'll be featuring a new one each week for the coming few months.
Big apologies to the kind-hearted students/alumni who gave their time for this, only for it to vanish. Thankfully no-one has a terrible haircut they should be embarrassed about now.
Future subjects include a trainee at PriceWaterHouseCoopers Legal, a commissioning editor at a legal publishers, an IP agent, a government legal service lawyer and a solicitor at a global shipping firm.