University Advocacy Day at Gray’s Inn: Reflections

After a successful application to the University Advocacy Day at Gray’s Inn, I was offered a place on the one-day programme. A number of students, who were also successful in gaining a place, travelled from different parts of the country, and were looking forward to the afternoon ahead.

The University Advocacy Day is an excellent opportunity for university students of all subjects who are thinking about a career at the bar. You will be able to meet with barristers, listen to talks on advocacy and scholarships and discuss case analyses and ethics in small groups.  During the case analyses, you will also be able to perform advocacy under the supervision of an advocacy trainer and receive feedback.

The Programme for the Day

The event began in the Hall, where portraits of distinguished and respected judges, Lord Bingham, Lord Thomas and Baroness Hale were placed. The Honourable Sir David Foskett, the Treasurer, gave a warm introduction about Gray’s Inn, what the programme entailed and his education and career as a law student, barrister and a judge.  Foskett emphasised that he was the first in his family to attend university and to become a judge in order to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider a career at the Bar.

His talk was followed by Michael Fordham QC, Master of Students. Fordham gave an inspirational and informative talk on ‘The Art of Persuasion’.  He defined persuasion as “the act for someone to someone in a system”. The following are the three aspects of persuading one would need to consider:

  1. Audience and the impact
  2. The client hearing your case
  3. Performing your best in those circumstances

Finally, Nathalie Lieven QC, Chair of the Scholarships Committee, talked about the Inn scholarships, which are awarded on merit. The four criteria the Inn will take into account for a Scholarship application are intellectual ability at the Bar, motivation and prospects to succeed, potential as an advocate and characteristics such as self-reliance, integrity and the capacity to work effectively.  Your application will demonstrate your written advocacy and ability to communicate concisely and effectively.

After the talks, the cohort were allocated to small groups and an accredited trainer in advocacy.  Barrister Ijeoma Omambala provided my group with valuable advice on advocacy and information on the role of a barrister.  Our objectives for the group session was learning about ascertaining information in a polite and courteous manner, where one would need to strike a balance between assertiveness and confidence.

Following the Case Preparation and Advocacy, the group were faced with the core duties and scenarios containing ethical issues that barristers are confronted with when working with different parties.  The barrister has a duty to the court and must consider what actions are appropriate when an ethical dilemma arises.

The day concluded with a reception in the Hall, where students were given an opportunity to network with barristers and judges.

If you would like to apply for the next University Advocacy Day on Saturday 30 March 2019, ensure you check Gray’s Inn website, sign up to Gray’s Inn mailing list for the details or follow them on social media to stay up-to-date.

Many thanks to Cristina DeSouza for this detailed account of her day at Gray’s Inn! Cristina is an LLB2 student at the City Law School.

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