The Academic Corner: meet Dr David Seymour
Teodora Cordarov speaks to Dr David Seymour, LLB Programme Director, about what makes him tick, both in academia and in the rest of life!
What got you interested in Law initially?
I remember being very young saying that I like law, maybe it was TV shows that influenced me. All I really know is that I fell in love with law the moment I started studying it.
What is your research area, and you did you develop your academic interests?
My main research area was law, antisemitism and the Holocaust. More specifically, I wondered whether such horrors went against our understanding of law or whether it was the complete annulment of law.
Now, I am still working on that but I am also very interested in ways that law shaped London both in terms of its buildings, geography and historiography. London and law are completely connected.
Did you always want to be an academic lawyer, rather than being a lawyer in practice?
I was 25 when I started my legal education and I was going to be the great crusading barrister. I was going to right every wrong that had been made but then, after about 18 months I decided I want to be an academic. I realised how much I enjoyed studying and the joy of learning something new almost every day. I did work for an organisation called Justice for a while but it was always academia that was my priority.
Did you ever think about taking your career in a completely different direction?
Yes, when I was very little I was going to play football for Chelsea and win the World Cup with England. Also, I always wanted to be an actor. I went for couple of auditions and failed but at least I tried.
You are the LLB Programme Director – what is the one bit of advice you wish all your undergraduate students would take on board?
What do you think is most crucial for those students wishing to pursue a career in legal practice?
Patience, reading cases and realising that it takes time to develop fully as a legal practitioner.
You’ve written about law and film – what are your top 3 recommendations for students to watch (and why)?
I always find the best law films are those that are not directly about law. For example, I have written on The Sixth Sense as a film about law. But, for traditional law films – Twelve Angry Men; Adam’s Rib and I am looking forward to seeing Denial.
What do you enjoy most about being a legal academic, and what would you say to students considering this as a career?
Students are the best part of my job. I also enjoy academic research and teaching. Finding something that you are really interested in and enjoying working on that and interacting with students on such topics. There is nothing better than seeing students having a difficulty with the topic and then see them finally get it and being able to apply it. It is fantastic.
Do you think the study of law should be limited to those who want to go into legal practice? If not, what do you see as the benefits of legal education for anyone?
No, absolutely not. I always thought of law as a social science and way for understanding society. Social dimensions of law are very important. Anybody can learn the law but the reasons why that law has been interpreted in a particular way and understanding those reasons is crucial. Also knowing the effects of that law on the society is of an great importance for everyone.
Everything is about legal relations somewhere along the line.
What are the big things you’re working on at the moment (either research or programme-based)?
I am researching on legal London and also writing a paper on lawyers and the state.
An unusual fact about you? I don’t like aubergines. I never liked them.
Last film seen? A documentary about finance in the city of London and the film before that was The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino which I loved.
Proudest moment? When my baby was born.
What do you do to escape from law? Cinema and football.
Thanks to Teodora for this interesting interview with Dr David Seymour. Teodora has just graduated from City University London and is currently doing an internship at an international organisation in the field of law enforcement.