Tag - Barrister

My first trip to Lincoln’s Inn

Every Law student is familiar with the Inns of Court. There are four Inns of court, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. In order for one to progress their career at the bar, they have to join an Inn, it is what you call an association for Barristers.

You will find these Inns in the capital of London. Personally I had never been to an inns of court before but recently I visited Lincoln’s Inn for the first time, c’est magnifique!

Lincoln’s inn is in Holborn for those who are planning on visiting, most universities get invited, we were allocated 8 places like the other universities that attended this is due to high demands. The building was amazingly beautiful, the grass was the greenest of the greens even on the mistiest greyest day that we travelled. It sounds too good to be true, but just look at those pictures. We was all suited up, dressed fresh and smart, looking the part; as soon as we entered the premises, our eyes wandered around the beauty of inside the building, the carpet was spotlessly clean, god knows how many years they had it but still, cleaner than samples at carpet shops! (the good way)

The reception was wonderful, they offered us a choice of Coffee and tea, I’m not much a fan of coffee but the tea was splendid, in the room there was oil paintings of various people, the one I remembered the most was Margaret Thatcher, I couldn’t help but admire it, the artist painted her in a good light haha.

After everybody introduced their selves and drank tea, we were directed to the great hall where barristers were giving us talks, I’m pretty sure that the theme of the talks was to put potential barristers off, they played this game where everybody was given a random number more than 100 but less than 200 because I can’t remember the exact amount, at the end of the game the people whose number was left standing were apparently going to become practicing barristers, and again I’m pretty confident it was less than 20 people standing. Scary really, but that’s statistics for you. I think by trying to put us off is a good thing because those who are left standing are those who will be the ones who are fully committed to the bar.

After the talks there was another drinks reception but this time they were serving alcohol beverages and orange juice, so those who like wine, you’d love the drink receptions, they served white wine and red, that is as far as I know about alcohol seeing as though I do not drink it lol. Everybody was enjoying their selves really, barristers were conversing with us fellow students.

The next part is the most important part, this is because you need etiquette! The Dinner. There are certain rules which you must abide by, like firstly, NO MOBILE PHONES! I know what you’re thinking, but it is very rude to have mobile phones out during dinner especially in the presence of other barristers, you could probably affect your potential employment, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The dinner that was served was very sophisticated looking, similiar to a 5* restuarant, for my Starter I was given an Avocado Salad with Artichoke,  the main course was white Fish in a cream green leak sauce with parsley potatoes and chantenay carrots. There was two types of cutlery given, honestly I did not know what to do, I asked the barrister who was sitting in front of me, it was quite embarrassing, she told me exactly what that woman “new money”told Leonardo Di Caprio in a scene of the movie titanic, “start from the outside, work your way in”. Although I’d say the fish knife resembled a spatula. So finally dessert arrived and it was a Chocolate tart with mango and strawberry sauce, it was very rich and sickly to my liking but I still enjoyed it. During the whole dinner, the waiters and waitresses, was topping every bodies wine glasses up, no one ever had an empty glass, but back to the subject of etiquette if you don’t want to drink tip your wine glass down, I pretty much tipped all my glasses down and the barrister in front of me thought I was pretty extreme LOL.

Overall the trip was brilliant, I met lovely people! And I would definitely recommend it to those who are faced with the opportunity!

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See you soon!

 

 

Idealism…..Where has it gone?

Intro

This blog post shall primarily be an honest and open piece focusing on idealism but also on the sad realization of reality and the annoying moment when someone tells you NO!

As a premise to this blog – I am currently writing this blog at 4.03am (insomniac), I have just watched three films (two of which I can recommend) and I had this sudden urge to announce what I shall dedicate my life to. I would like to say that I am very lucky to know what I want to do with my life and if you see me in 10 years working in some small corporate firm earning money just for the sake of earning money – Please feel free to shoot me!

I’m about to turn 21 – How can I possibly know what I want to do with myself you ask? 

It’s because I’m honest enough to admit I’m idealistic, I often cite that I want to change the world which is often met with snorty derision and countless pairs of eyes taking a spin.

But when you think about it – would you really want to live in a world where people stopped wanting to change the world for the better?

If you go back do you really think that Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa honestly thought they’d be seen as International icons of equality and protectors of Civil Rights? OF COURSE NOT!

I would like to point out that in no way am I arrogant enough to consider myself anywhere near as brilliant and visionary as these legendary people but my point is….It Only Takes One Person! Why can’t it be you and we are in no way in a state of being where everyone is protected or equal.

Why me?
Why the Hell Not? There is no criteria for people who change the world, or is there? I’m gonna quickly Google – Just Google’d and nope, still no criteria which you must meet before you are allowed to change the world so I’m still okay to continue my plans.

So what do you want to do? 

The last time I read there still remains over 80 Countries (not sure if this is U.N or Commonwealth) and at least five countries where Homosexuality is Punishable by DEATH! I mean, in the 21st century you can still be killed if you’re a man who loves a man!

So I plan to dedicate to my life to Removing the Death Penalty in Countries where it is still punishable by Death!

I recently met a truly inspirational barrister at the 11th Annual Stonewall Lecture: From Silence To Safety: Protecting the gay refugee and the lecture was brilliant – it certainly helped me realize what I want to do – he does some amazing work protecting gay asylum seekers in this country which included the groundbreaking decision in HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department. (Read the case)

Apparently, it is the second time of the supreme court (and i think including H of L) where the judgement was met with applause! (Little fun fact for you)

This case was revolutionary in changing the law – so if this man can change the law in this country – why can’t I change the law in other countries?

Before attending this lecture I read the No Going Back report also published by Stonewall which detailed the appalling treatment of gay refugees by the UK Border Agency so we are far from equal or free in this country? What’s worse, the treatment of LGBT people in these countries is often unseen, accepted by communities merely because of social attitudes and unjust laws.

 

What Next?

Well I’m currently a second year LL.B student, so still have somewhere to go before being in a position to do this but I have a plan –

If all goes to plan, my dissertation will exactly be on this topic – gives me a great chance to further research the area and it actually counts towards my degree…Couldn’t think of a better thing to research tbh. I’ve found an  internship with Asociación Entre Amigos working in their Anti-Homophobia Legal Clinic in which they promote better social attitudes, change policy and advance equality.  I then hope to pursue the American Civil Liberties Union as an LGBT paralegal and subsequently apply to Columbia University for their Human Rights Masters Program, but I’ll need the LL.M fellowship to do this as I couldn’t really afford $75,000.

It’s then flying back to Home Soil where hopefully I can begin a career with the Human Rights Dignitary Trust and completing the BPTC part time, being called to the Bar and securing Pupillage.

And during my practice at the Bar, I hope to gain international jurisdiction to understand foreign legal systems and to hopefully protect people on a larger scale – It then becomes a matter of lobbying, changing social attitudes and changing the law.

And hopefully the day will come where Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will renounce their death penalties.

Oh Don’t forget, I also wanna get married during all of this and raise children – Busy Busy Life indeed!

Wish me Luck!

 

 

 

Undergraduate Advocacy – Bored of Mooting??

About time for another entry….

Hello everyone, firstly I would like to apologise (you have no idea how many times I do that in my blogs) for the lateness of another blog entry. Second year LL.B certainly takes the wind out of you compared to first year. I have certainly found that this year is far more intensive and plus I’m doing some serious bitchy modules – Land, Equity, Criminal and Commercial….I’m not gonna love this year!

So whilst juggling a degree, part time job, columnist, bar society president and repping for national student pride, trying to upload a blog entry can be difficult, so I thought I would treat myself on a Friday night, and hopefully my readers to another blog entry.

Changing the face of undergraduate advocacy….

This blog post will give me a chance to really document why and what I’m doing with Mock Trials, in the execution of this project I’ve not really had a moment to stop and really think.

So, everyone heard of mooting? Yes? Good. Talking and tweeting last year, it is of the opinion of many students and many professionals that they find mooting completely boring, actually one consenting opinion came from the lecturer who judged my moot first year, which I thought was charming.

Everyone I spoke to thought that mock trials gave a more realistic application of the law, they found it more enjoyable and far more engaging, and they thought it strengthened a student’s advocacy skills far greater than that of mooting…so.

I went looking for a mock trial competition at undergraduate level, I assumed there had to be something as there are hundreds of mooting competitions. Do you know what I found?

NOTHING!!!
There was not one single intra-university mock trial competition in the United Kingdom and this is what I seek to rectify this year and the next.

I plan to execute the first intra-university mock trial competition that this country has seen and potentially change the face of undergraduate advocacy and hopefully improve the prospects of undergraduate students seeking a career at the bar.

How?

Well in my capacity as Bar Society President, I created a training program specifically targeted at mock trials and involve such training sessions as introduction to court language and introduction to examination in chief and cross examination. Both actually running this Monday and Tuesday.

The trial papers, training materials and assessment grids have all been commissioned by me and now ready to use this year. So I thought why can’t I get other universities involved.

So I got tweeting, emailing and eventually this lead to me being appointed as President of the Bar Society, a UK Law Students Association Liaison officer which brought me into direct access with every Law Society President in the country. I confirmed my 10th University this morning.

So effectively, I have planned 10 intra-university mock trials this year, I had to see if the program could run effectively before initiating it as a mock trial competition, which I hope will run in proper competition format next year. I have already begun to plan dates and venues. I’m hoping the Royal Courts of Justice or the Supreme Court can host the finals next year in the second semester.

What Next?

Well, my current plans relate to finding professional accreditation and support from Inns of Court, Chambers and Solicitors Firms, a program such as this is not going to be cheap to execute and I’m hoping that I can get some substantial sponsorship sorted so awards can be granted.

I’m hoping to establish regional heats so not everyone has to travel to Swansea to participate and I doubt my law school or Barrister’s involved in the program could accommodate the workload, so I’m hoping to establish regional liaison universities whereby they can host a mock trial, get a participating Barrister or Judge to judge it and then record the scores of the winning team – each region then will enter 1 team into the semi finals – to be held in London.

The two winning teams will  then progress to the finals and the winning team will then walk away with a cash prize.

Of course, saying it and doing it are two completely different things, this program needs to be advertised and I’m hoping that many legal publications such as the solicitors’ journal and young lawyer magazine could advertise it to build interest.

What I didn’t anticipate…

I didn’t anticipate the amount of involvement from different universities this year and I now have to start seriously considering the plan for next semester. I need to see if it works before approaching firms and although this year has barely begun, I feel like I’m running out of time to organise such an endeavour.

I would like to thank everyone for reading, the above post was a chance for me to really get things of my chest and to formulate a plan in my head. I know its a bit scrambled but I hope it was readable.

If any university would like to enter, please feel free to email me at [email protected] or I believe my twitter is linked to this blog.

Kindest Regards,

Gregory W Smith