An extremely competitive 4 rounds of mooting (with 96 students entering this year) was brought to an end on Monday 22nd April with our four finalists battling it out in front of Lord Mance, Justice of the Supreme Court.
Lord Mance judged The City Law School GDL Moot for the fourth year in a row and in announcing the winner, made it clear how astonished he was once again by the quality before him, from individuals who have only been studying law for 6-7 months.
The topic of the moot this year was judicial review; concerning the closure of a local care home as a result of the increased spending of a local council on a new sewer system.
Our four mooters performed extremely well and Lord Mance declared Daniel Isenberg the winner, with Daniel Black in second place. Many thanks to everyone who competed in the competition this year. Hope to see some of you back next year as judges!
Judge Cryan returned to City to host a Mooting 'conversation' with 5 of last years talented mooters on 23rd October 2012. MacKenzie Common, Eden Ifergen and Althea Brooks, finalists from the City Scholars Moot 2011-12 joined Laura Inglis and Harriet Tolkien, winners of the UKLSA Moot in front of crowd of eager would-be mooters.
All these students have mooted in the grand but daunting surroundings of the Supreme Court in front of SC judges Lady Hale (City Scholars) and Lord Sumption (UKLSA).
The City Scholars Competition is open to all LLB, GELLB and LLM students and the first round will kick off week commencing 12th November. Round One of the GDL Moot will take place later on in November.
Judge Cryan and the experienced mooters covered a lot of ground, offering tips and insight on delivery, pitfalls, structure, judge's questioning, bundles, skeleton arguments and gamesmanship. The networking that followed saw lots of brains being picked and a great deal of enthusiasm for the year ahead. Let's hope we shall see some of you on the panel next year!
Two days of mooting madness to finish off the season...
On Tuesday 24th April GDL students Laura Inglis and Harriet Tolkien competed in the final stages of the UKLSA (UK Law Students Association) moot. Previous rounds have seen them face BPP and Sussex. This final stage included the quarter (against Lincoln) and semi-finals (against Plymouth) as well as the final all in one day.
The final (against Oxford) was judged by Lord Sumption at the Supreme Court.
Here's what Harriet had to say about the day:
We made it through to the final of the UKLSA Mooting Competition in the Supreme Court, after beating Lincoln in the quarterfinal, judged by the charming but very interventionist Andrew Caldecott QC, and Plymouth in the semifinal in front of a two judge panel of Vaughan Jacob and Robert Howe QC.
Despite some rather testing questions from Lord Sumption, who was judging they managed to beat Oxford, winning the competition.
Big congratulations to both Laura and Harriet, who stepped in to cover this moot in December. They are now in possession of a very shiny trophy thanks to the UKLSA. If you'd like to see more photographs of the event check out the UKLSA Facebook page.
Wednesday 25th City students were back at the Supreme Court for the final of our GDL Internal Moot Competition. This intense competition began back in late November with over 130 competitors and after getting through the subsequent two rounds, the four finalists making their appearance were Madeline Dixon, Jack Murphy, Andrew Feld and John Schmitt.
Kindly judged by Lord Mance for the third year running, the final problem pivoted around the topical issue of school places and whether they can amount to property under the Theft Act 1968. All four mooted superbly with the eventual winner declared as John Schmitt, with runner up Madeline Dixon. John was picked out for the quality of his argument, particularly those around policy and for his skill in going beyond the law, Madeline for her clear, structured submissions and her capability in dealing with the judge's questions.
Lord Mance in his summing up said that of all the mooters he saw each year - City GDL students were always the most accomplished - a fantastic testament to the hard work our students put into this activity, on top of all their other commitments.
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.
Chambers evenings. Men and women in posh suits, a formal event over-flowing with intellect from Heads of Chambers, top-notch barristers, Queen’s Counsels and tenants all in the same room. One of the delightful highlights on many a GDL student’s to-do list, ranking up there with mooting and pro bono. Along with the hundred and one things we try to achieve in our short academic year.
“Just what exactly are Chambers evenings?”, pondered many of us en route to tutorials and in between mid-lecture breaks. “It’s sure to be really formal if we must put on our best suits!” exclaimed one excited peer. “And we must be on our best behaviour! And impress the barristers! And snag a pupillage! And network!” And do everything all at once it seems…..
“Relax…”, said the tutors with knowing smiles, but not giving any details away. Going with an open mind and a professional attitude seemed to be their suggestion. And that’s exactly how a mini army of us clad in a sea of somber dark greys, navy blues and black albeit perfectly coiffed and gelled up hair set off for our very first Chambers evenings at Wilberforce Chambers. Many armed with emergency lists of potential questions and witty repartee to hopefully impress the barristers.
It's not news to note that becoming a barrister now involves a significant financial risk, and usually a significant amount of debt – a situation likely to be exacerbated by the pending hike in undergraduate fees. Even at present, the GDL will cost up to £9,000 and chances are you'll be paying for that up front out of your own pocket. Banks are understandably reluctant to loan money to those whose career plan involves spending £25,000 on course fees with a 1-in-8 shot at securing pupillage. So without a lottery win or having been born to wealth, what is the GDL student to do to pay for their diploma?
I wasn't alone in working through the (full-time) GDL at City University, but I think I was the only person working full-time, getting a job in an editorial support role at a national newspaper.
It wasn't the easiest of years – I had worked full-time through degrees before (I ran a wine shop as an undergraduate, and worked in supply chain through my MA), but the GDL year is somewhat different. City University prides itself on a fairly academic approach to the conversion course – there are about 20 hours of fixed class time per week, and at least 20 hours of reading and research required to participate in any meaningful way. It's more intense than many students expect. Add 40 hours of work and that's 80 hours a week. What really tipped the balance was the 20-plus hours a week required for mooting, debating, pro bono, FRU training, prize essays, chambers evenings, mini-pupillages, qualifying sessions, pupillage applications and interviews.
These three elements – the GDL itself, paid work, and the pupillage hunt – totted up 100 hours most weeks. Juggling these three elements may not have been advisable (I secured pupillage at my first choice commercial set, but only managed a middling Commendation in my GDL exams) but if you're thinking of working (part-time or full-time) through your GDL/pupillage hunt, then these are my pieces of advice that might come in useful.
Firstly, don’t panic, but you must get comfortable and buckle up - this roller coaster ride is about to begin. What follows is an attempt to give you some idea of the corkscrews, cobra rolls and hammerhead turns that lie ahead. Several other veterans have kindly passed on their top tips for the journey, but every experience is different, so what you read below will on some level be coloured by one perspective. Take or leave the advice as you want – here I just want to give you a taste of the ride!
THE COURSE ITSELF. It is fast moving. It will be June before you realise. One thing that many of us in my cohort realised too late, is that looking at past exam papers early on is invaluable. In a spare moment in these early weeks, get on Cityspace and look at exam answers from previous years. This will give you a rough idea of the kind of thing that you will i) be able to and ii) need to write in nine months time.
GETTING YOUR MOUTH AROUND THE LAW. Tip – Talk law. You will be competent in legalese (both English/Welsh and European) by Christmas, and fluent by March. Like all languages however, it’s about confidence and practice. Mooting is a great way of doing this, regardless of whether you’re an intending solicitor or barrister. Be confident to make mistakes. Your colleagues around you now are in exactly the same position and are the best people to bounce ideas off. Tutors are also, obviously brilliant, but even the most patient adults eventually get bored of conversations with toddlers. While we’re here, you will quickly come to realise that some of the people on the course around you now, will be close friends and colleagues for a lot longer yet – remember, these relationships will be a very important source of support.
Philip Jenks spent his articles at a major City law firm alternately bored and scared. "I'm sure things have improved since the late 80s, but the training then was shockingly unstructured. I was desperate to do something else and left within days of qualification."
Philip, who completed the GDL (then the CPE) at City in 1986, now owns the Carbolic Smoke Ball Co, whose tagline is: unusual gifts for professionals.
Lt Kaffee: ‘Did you order the Code Red?’
Col. Jessop: ‘You’re Goddamned right I did!’
One year before commencing the GDL at City, I was working in Baghdad as a Royal Marine Captain. I was based at an Iraqi Military Training base, 15 minutes by helicopter outside the so-called ‘heavily fortified Green Zone’. Here I was part of a small group of Brits that lived with and trained Iraqi Young Officers in the new Iraqi Army. Cadets at the academy routinely disappeared; rocket attacks and mortar bombs landed in our compound with daily regularity; members of the staff were killed by them; perhaps most alarmingly the Iraqi general in charge of the base was lynched whilst travelling to work.
Our trips to the ranges were fraught with anxiety at the ever present menace of the road side bomb. Helicopter trips into the Green Zone resembled a fair ground ride as the pilots did their best to avoid being hit – or being locked on by a missile – as the night sky around us was lit up by flares fired as decoys from the helicopter.
All of this, however pales into insignificance when compared to the feelings of discomfort and unease that I experienced as Dr Herling icily exposed the limitations of our knowledge of contract law in the early tutorials of the course!