Advice from the Courtroom: The City Law Review Launch with Lord Kerr & Dinah Rose QC
On Tuesday 12th March, the City Law Society celebrated the launch of this year’s edition of City Law Review. The Review contains twenty-three different pieces from City students, in subjects ranging from the relationship of the LGBTQ+ community and estate planning to the development of the International Criminal Court.
The achievements of the students were heightened by the presence of Lord Kerr and Dinah Rose QC, who were invited to commend the hard work of the authors and offer advice to the students. Both were tasked with answering the question: what does it mean to learn law?
Lord Kerr reflected on his long career and stated that “law is a lifelong project.” The process of learning the law is never complete and he said that he is frequently reminded of that when hearing novel cases. On top of the ever-changing subject matter, Lord Kerr addressed his concerns about the profession. He openly stated his weariness towards the elitist and exclusionist tendencies of the field. He stated that the profession was elitist when he entered and was shocked that it still is. He admitted that he did not know what the answer is for that ongoing problem, but hoped that our awareness and eagerness to improve the system will help. “I don’t know what the solution is but don’t be deterred, when you see a challenge, rise to it.” The profession still faces many of the same problems that he dealt with in his early career, but that does not make him cynical. At the end of his remarks, Lord Kerr looked out at the group of students and stated that “the strength of the human spirit is as alive today in your generation as it has ever been.”
Dinah Rose QC did address many of the problems she believes need to be addressed in the profession but started out by reminding the crowd that she was a City alumni, and when reflecting on her GDL she said that she “understood almost nothing until it came to revision so don’t worry.” She reflected fondly on her time at City, but had a more aggressive stance about the current status of the legal profession:
“…it’s a kind of guerrilla lawfare…”
She claims that the massive cuts to legal aid have left the profession “under siege and undervalued.” She emphasised that it is incredibly important for young professionals to get creative; individuals have to find different and inventive ways to get cases off the ground. Moreover, young lawyers must “think laterally” and expand their areas of practice to be able to make a profit. Ms Rose was not saying that it is impossible to enter the legal field, just that you must be ready to be flexible.
Learning law never really stops, whether it is because of an emerging practice area or finding new ways to address cuts to legal aid. Both guests encouraged students to be flexible and resilient, and Ms Rose ended by saying, “if you are a junior lawyer, you just have to be prepared to work hard.”
Many thanks to Emily Wolf, LLB1 student, for this review of the evening. Now go and read your copy of the City Law Review!