Dealing with vulnerable clients

If you are embarking on a legal career you know that you will be dealing with clients. The area of law that you settle on may dictate the type of people you meet most often; for example most people seeking a divorce are rather stressed, whereas in commercial property or as an in-house corporate lawyer you are more likely to develop business relationships.

During a training contract, however, if you have the opportunity to spend time in different areas, you may well come face to face with types of vulnerability you’ve not experienced before. And even the most polished and formal of contexts can fall prey to stress and disagreement.

After all, every client is a human being. Human beings have good and bad days and the majority of clients are having a less-than-great day if they are seeing you, their lawyer. There are exceptions: signing the contract on a dream home or finalising documents for a new business venture are more positive activities and those clients may not even resent the fees they are paying to see you. But clients in most areas wish they were somewhere else.

Vulnerable clients are particularly common in certain areas, such as crime, mental health and public childcare law. If you train or practise in one of these areas you are likely to encounter:

  • Child clients (the UN defines anyone under 18 as a child);
  • Those with learning difficulties;
  • Anyone living with a disability or serious illness;
  • People with mental health issues including addictions;
  • Clients who have grown up in the care system.

Clients who need interpreters also require special consideration but that’s a subject that merits a blog post all of its own – watch this space!

Additionally, the environment or circumstances surrounding your consultation may add to the client’s stress – and possibly your own as well! Police stations and criminal courts are busy, pressurised and sometimes uncomfortable places and the circumstances are never pleasant. Your client may be hungover, may have slept in a cell and may be terrified or furious. Clients attending consultations in civil courts are also likely to be frightened or angry, or both.

Add the challenges of a stressed, vulnerable client and an alien environment to the demands of a client interview and a lot is being asked of you. Not only will you need to take full instructions, analyse the matter and advise your client on the relevant law and their position, but you will have to develop a rapport in a short time, gain their trust and quite possibly calm them down. You will also need to explain complex abstract concepts to someone who may have difficulty understanding them.

Over the years advising clients in my role as a criminal defence solicitor, I have encountered all of the vulnerabilities I have described and more. My particular area of interest is child suspects (aged 10-17) but every client has his or her story and deserves a lawyer who will make every effort to provide legal advice and representation that is comprehensible and appropriate.

So how do we go about advising clients when there are so many challenges?

These situations demand something more than legal knowledge and intellectual agility: character. Some of us come to the law from other working environments and with some years of adult life behind us and this can be helpful, but any lawyer of any age can bring to a consultation a measure of empathy and a willingness to understand.

Empathy, not sympathy. You may hear a story from your client that is so horrific you find it difficult not to become involved, but this is something you need to avoid. Empathy means putting yourself in your client’s position so you can understand from a human level as well as a legal standpoint, but staying calm and emotionally neutral at the same time. Your client needs to know that you acknowledge their pain and you may need to spend a few minutes assuring them of this, but they also need to know that you are continuing to do your job in a professional manner.

Sometimes we deal with a case or a client that triggers a memory or an emotion within us. There may be a detail or even an entire matter that reflects something painful from our past. Worse still, we may be dealing with something personal right now that is similar. We need to stay calm. Acknowledge the emotion to yourself but don’t discuss it with your client. Accept that this consultation will be a difficult one for you but remember that the next one will be something different and is likely to be easier on you emotionally.

If the client is very angry or upset you will need to listen to their concerns but at some point you will need to take charge of the consultation and make some practical headway. If the client wants to tell you their story straight away it is often – not always – a good idea to let them blow off steam and then diffuse things by making sure you have all the right personal details, times and other neutral information in your notes. Sometimes I make a point of redirecting my client’s focus by asking them these questions and then we can move on to taking instructions.

If your client has a vulnerability that you are not familiar with, ask questions. For example, with a learning difficulty, you might ask your client how it affects them. Addicts will often tell you anything you need to know about their substance use. Don’t pretend to know anything about drugs that you don’t already know; they will see through you. With a child, have a little chat about school or some other neutral subject to enable you to gauge their level of understanding. A parent can help you with this but in some situations the other adults involved will be as new to your client as you are.

Don’t use long words or legal jargon, except where you have to, and always explain these terms. If you deal with children or other vulnerable clients frequently, you will develop your own approaches to explaining legal concepts that are appropriate and as easy to understand as possible.

Learn from other lawyers. I was fortunate to be trained by experienced solicitors who showed me not only how to practise law but also how to do my job with empathy and understanding.

Realise that although it may not be easy at first, like anything it will become second nature. Now, when I know that the client I am about to see is a child, for example, I am pleased because I know that I am well placed to advise and represent them. The challenge of combining knowledge and expertise with the qualities of calmness, confidence and empathy is particularly satisfying. Whether or not the client is grateful, when you have brought all of yourself to your job – not just your learning but your depth of character as well – you know you have made a real contribution.

Underpinning all of your effort and experience there must also be a culture of self-care. These consultations can be draining and you may feel stressed or resentful. You need to make sure you have the resources to off-load and the ability to summon real calmness, rather than a pretence of self- control. The more emotionally draining your working situation, the more important it is to look after yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone must find their own path, but please don’t neglect this important consideration. If your job is to ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of society are afforded their rights, you are doing something important and you need to make sure your well=being is supported.

© 2015 Harriet Stack

Harriet Stack is a writer and meditation coach and practises criminal law under her married name, Harriet Balcombe. She can be contacted at http://www.harrietstack.com, @harrietewstack or at https://www.facebook.com/harrietstackmindcalmcoach.

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How Disconnecting A Client’s Call Cost Me A Month’s Scolding

Student life is very different from practice life. While law school inculcates basic requirements for academic success, it can never guarantee professional success. The inherent difference between academic and professional life can rarely be imagined when one is a student. I too was blissfully unaware of the path ahead until reality hit me. The first brush with the ‘outside’ life was when I got a chance to intern. Even after a few internships, I was not that well prepared when I stepped into my first job with a leading law firm. With a host of dreams that every law school pass-out harbours, I joined practice. Here are my top instances which made practice so different from law school, and which on hindsight, I wish I had known earlier:

Research – On the very first day job, I was given research in relation to a client’s query on corporate law. Having aced the subject in law school, I was quite confident. I almost got to the answer, or that’s what I thought. However, my senior was quite unimpressed. He simply told me that this is what happens in theory, not in real life. He quipped further – one must understand the practical problem of the client before doing any research and think deeply by putting themselves in the client’s shoes. Only then will one be able to understand what to look for and where to research.

Client Meeting – Three months later, after attending a client meeting, I worked almost through the night and prepared the draft opinion on the query raised. When my senior reviewed it next morning, instead of a pat on my back I was greeted with a stern expression. He told me bluntly that the whole approach was incorrect and checked if I had made notes. I replied in the affirmative and even showed him the same. His eyebrows narrowed even further and he quipped that my notes did not capture the very essence of the discussion. On probing further, he realized that I had assumed quite a few things. He explained quite patiently that in client meetings we are entitled to raise as many questions as we can think of, to get a clear picture of the problem. It will not help if we assume a client’s actions and give a conditional opinion, which would be factually incorrect as well and consequently useless for the client.

Administrative Duties – Apart from doing core ‘legal’ work, very often in early years a lawyer could be required to undertake some ‘non-legal’ or administrative work. For instance, I had the added responsibility to arranging letters to be sent to the client intimating the action taken by the firm in a lawsuit instituted by the client. One day, seven months into the practice, while attending the daily morning team review meeting, I received a call from a new client, on whose behalf; we had instituted a suit the day before. I disconnected the call twice since I thought it would be inappropriate to leave the review meeting and I could call back in about 10 minutes. Just then my senior received a call and his face turned purple. He inquired if I had sent the intimation letter to the client. I confidently replied in the affirmative. Barely able to control his rage, he asked me to check with the dispatch desk. The staff had not yet come, but rummaging through their desk, I, paralysed with fear, found the letter tucked away at the bottom of a pile. What followed next was perhaps the worst tirade that I had been subject to all my life, witnessed by the entire firm. The client had called to admonish the partner on sloppy work. When I came back to my work station red-faced and almost trembling, all other seniors joked that I could not be scolded for a month since the entire month’s quota has been exhausted in those 15 minutes! I learnt it the hard way that you must ensure that the communication has reached the client and more importantly take his call, especially when he calls you a second time.

Court Call – Since I had joined a firm that mainly acted as solicitors (In India there is practically no distinction between solicitors and barristers – both can freely appear before a court of law), my work involved briefing practicing counsel and assisting them when the matter was heard in court. On one such occasion, I had briefed a leading lawyer of a lower court. However, when the matter was called he was not present in court. In customary practice, the judge passed over the matter twice, to be called a little later. An hour later, the senior lawyer’s clerk, after frantic calls from me, explained that his boss was in the middle of arguments in another courtroom and could not come. Soon it was third call and the judge thundered that if the matter were not argued, he would pass an ex-parte order against my client. I knew the matter from the back of my palm and though not mentally or physically prepared at all, commenced the argument for the client’s sake. I think I would have spoken for an hour (but actually fifteen minutes only) when the judge stopped me and asked the defence counsel if he had anything to rebut my allegations. A sudden sense of relief mixed with excitement engulfed me. It was a stark contrast to my moot court sessions in college, when I had days of training and practice before the real event.

Counsel Briefing Session – In my second year, I was fortunate to be involved in a very high profile property inheritance court battle The briefing sessions with top notch lawyers would include a few junior lawyers as well client’s representatives. Since I was the junior most member of the team, I continued the law school habit of being backbencher! On one such occasion, my partner, other lawyers and the client were trying to persuade the senior counsel to move a new petition. I was not convinced myself and presented my justification earlier to my partner, but he had curtly dismissed my thoughts. While the debate was still going on in the session, I gathered courage, stood up and aired my views, to his utter disbelief. After a minute, the senior counsel broke the scary silence, ‘Point taken’. It was a sort of vindication for my budding legal research acumen! This was yet another difference from my law school days since appreciation from a senior counsel changed my outlook and gave me the confidence to build on the foundation.

The words of Evan Chesler, chairman of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, emphasizing the importance of good judgment to the practice of law, sums it up – “Part of being a good lawyer is knowing when to keep your mouth shut. But those aren’t the types of people who go to law school.

© Sourish Mohan Mitra 2015;

India-qualified lawyer from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and currently working with a Big 4 Firm in Delhi, India; views expressed are personal;

Twitter: @sourish247

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An Unconventional Legal Career

The new academic year always feels like a real new beginning to me. After so many new school years, new university years and new jobs following university, autumn is what starting afresh looks and feels like. Following a conversation with the new editor, Zara, therefore, I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce myself properly, having written several posts for UniLawStudents last year.

I didn’t set out to be a solicitor, or even a lawyer. I was fortunate enough to be given a place at Newnham College, Cambridge, and wanted to read English for two reasons: 1) my love for literature and the pleasure that writing gives me, and 2) because I thought there would be less to learn and remember! I did enjoy my studies and especially appreciated the time and space to develop my ability to think, analyse and grasp complex ideas.

I had no particular career ambitions and, after graduating, worked as a librarian, a journalist and later in management in a large manufacturing company. It was only in my late 30s, when the IT training company that I owned and ran was closed down, that I found myself at a crossroads and thought deeply about what I really wanted to do next.

As soon as I announced my plans to qualify as a solicitor, friends and family said things like, ‘finally!’ and ‘why did you leave it so long?’ I was lucky to live close enough to Anglia Ruskin University (ARU, then Anglia Polytechnic University) at Chelmsford where I found a place on the CPE (Common Professional Examination) course.

I loved that course. Six weeks into the first term, my marriage broke up and I found myself sleeping on the floor of my mother’s house, with my six year-old son sleeping in a camp bed next to me, somehow fitting lectures and essays around the school run, homework and football practice. Going into Chelmsford most days, having to focus on what I was learning and the camaraderie of academic life kept me going through those hard months when I didn’t know if I would lose my home or even if I would be able to afford to continue with the course.

The CPE is really intense, cramming the essentials of a law degree into one year. It takes commitment and sacrifice just to keep up. But the concentration and exhaustion were more than compensated for by the pleasure of learning how the law works, the intellectual fulfilment of getting my head around difficult concepts, and the satisfaction of being able to understand much better how our system works.

Following the CPE, back in my own house, I embarked on the LPC, also at ARU. Just as busy but less academic and more practical, I enjoyed all of this course except the Accounts. Maths has always been my weak point and I remember, despite being one of the oldest students and older than most of my lecturers, being nearly in tears trying to work through those wretched figures and being asked whether it would help if I went to sit in a quiet room by myself! Needless to say, I passed the necessary exams with much relief that I would probably never need to do those calculations again!

I had thought that it would be ideal to end up practising business law or something to do with IT. I ended up in crime, however, having been offered some work experience at a local firm during the vacation and finding that this work was perfectly aligned with the social conscience I had put on the back burner, career wise, for so long. Criminal practice is fast, interesting, and requires all sorts of qualities other than just knowledge of the law. Unfortunately, it is also extremely badly paid and in the 13 years since I began my training contract the remuneration levels have dropped to a point where, for many practitioners, it is no longer a viable way of running a business or supporting a family.

While the legal aid rates dropped and the bureaucratic demands increased, I learned how to take instructions, instruct Counsel and represent clients at the Police Station. And as soon as I qualified, the terrifying ordeal of getting on my feet in the Magistrates’ Court began. Every day was different, every client had a story and almost every day I learned something new, often about myself and my ability to work in challenging and sometimes threatening situations.

I also learned that many people don’t like lawyers. On discovering the new turn that my career had taken, one acquaintance expressed his disdain for solicitors who charge exorbitant rates (call yourself a lawyer and others will call you a ‘fat cat,’ either to your face or silently, more often than you would like to imagine). When I explained to this man that I was not a high flying commercial lawyer but in criminal practice, he said, ‘how can you work with those people?’ I was shocked at this attitude, but have since become so used to it that I don’t notice. People often go out of their way to complain to me about their solicitors, the amounts they charge and the time it takes to get things done. I no longer try to explain that the lawyers themselves do not get all the fees they earn, that those fees have to pay the rent, the rates, the salaries of secretaries and administrators, buy computers and stationery and the million other things that make a business work.

The fact is that most people see a lawyer because of a problem and often on one of the worst days of their lives. And on top of the worry and upset that they might be experiencing, they often have to pay what seems like an awful lot of money as well. For my clients, this is also true although sometimes they are still funded by legal aid. A significant proportion of those accused of crimes, and even those being prosecuted, have done nothing wrong. Imagine how terrifying it must be to find yourself locked in a cell and possibly facing a trial when you know that you are innocent! And the majority of my clients are among the most disadvantaged sections of our society. People with learning difficulties, mental health issues, addictions, the homeless, those who have grown up in the care system. These people became part of my everyday life as a criminal solicitor.

I adored the combination of intellectual rigor and compassion that this work demanded, but soon after I qualified things changed in my domestic life. My son had always found school difficult and when he got to secondary school it became unbearable. Dealing with his own mental health problems, he began to suffer from debilitating migraines and it was clear that different arrangements would need to be made. I took the momentous decision to take him out of school and facilitate his education at home. By this time, due to the challenges faced by small criminal firms I had been made redundant and was freelancing, so I didn’t have to give up employment to stay at home with Oliver. The juggling began, and I am happy to say that, somehow, we managed to get him through to school leaving age in the most unconventional manner, with me attending police stations and magistrates’ courts as a locum when the work came up, and the rest of the time going on outings, fitting in maths, music and art lessons, making models and watching history documentaries. He is now a well-read, articulate young man with a rather dauntingly independent mind.

The pressure of this lifestyle, combined with looking after my mother who has Multiple Sclerosis and lives nearby, took its toll on my health, however. The challenges became more of a struggle as I developed exhaustion and a number of physical symptoms. I decided to seek some holistic support and one of the things I did was to try various methods of meditation. It did help with the stress, if I sat in stillness for a few minutes in the morning, but I believed that I wasn’t doing it right – or sometimes that it ‘wasn’t working’ – because I was still having thoughts and sometimes felt anxious.

It took a real crisis for me to take these practices more seriously. In 2012, a series of events resulted in a rather grave family situation which involved complicated, multi-jurisdictional legal issues. As the lawyer in the family, I felt it was my responsibility to help to get these problems sorted out. As my professional life and my personal life merged, I found that I was unable to switch off my thinking.

I began to research the subject of worry and to experiment with various practices. As part of this process I learned Mind Calm Meditation with Sandy Newbigging. At my first workshop, led by Sandy, I jumped up at the end and said, ‘I need to learn to teach this method because I want to teach it to lawyers and accountants!’ Knowing that professional people are notorious over-thinkers and no strangers to stress, I realised that this method, down to earth, practical and backed up with sensible theory, would be perfect for high achieving academics and professionals who are particularly vulnerable to burnout.

Since then, I have been dividing my available working time between my legal practice and teaching Mind Calm. It might seem an odd combination, but it makes sense to me. I help my police station clients to make sense of the predicaments they find themselves in, and to have as much freedom as appropriate, and I help my Mind Calm clients to let go of their over-thinking and experience more freedom in their everyday lives.

Where will this unconventional career go next? Due to ongoing legal aid cuts I certainly need to continue to work outside my legal practice and my days as a practising solicitor may be numbered. The adventure will continue, however, and if the time I spend in custody suites decreases, that will give me more time to support stressed academics and professionals and to spread the news that we could all benefit from thinking a little less!

If you have questions or comments or if you would like to read more of my posts please follow me on Twitter or connect on Facebook. Let’s stay in touch!

© 2015 Harriet Stack

Harriet Stack is a writer and meditation coach and practises criminal law under her married name, Harriet Balcombe. She can be contacted at www.harrietstack.com, @harrietewstack or at https://www.facebook.com/harrietstackmindcalmcoach.

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Going to a non-traditional university

I am going into my second year of my LLB law degree at the University of Law in Birmingham. As mainly law students or those thinking of a career in law will read this article, I probably do not need to explain what the University of Law is or where it is. But when asked what University I attend I reply with ‘University of law’ many people are confused or simply think I am mistaken because nobody seems to know of the university of law. But going to a non-traditional is likely to give rise to many questions and confusion when asked about which university I attend.

Like many things in life, going to a non-traditional university has its pros and cons. On the one hand I enjoy studying my degree at the university of law because it combines academic study with practical legal skills, in a business-like environment. I feel like this teaching style and business-like environment prepares for the world of work while I am still learning academically. I also feel like the University of Law encourages me to pursue opportunities like networking and law events and they also push you to enhance your C.V at every opportunity we get. Being surrounded by other law students like GDL, LPC and BPTC students is another advantage of going to a university like the University of Law because they are older and have more experience than us LLB students, they can pass down invaluable tips and advice.

On the other hand I do feel deprived of the typical university experience, because my university is very different from a traditional university and it has more of a college feel. Being surrounded by all law students could also be seen as a negative because you might want to make friends and mix with students studying other subjects, but at the University of the Law there is not that option. The University of Law is one building so you will not have a campus to walk around.

So my advice for students applying to universities in the near future would be to think about what you really want from your university experience. If you want to go to get a typical university experience I would suggest applying to a traditional university but if you just want to focus on your career from my now I would look into a law school like the University of Law or BPP.

©Joel Blake 2015                                                                         Twitter – @joelbb96

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Making a name for yourself in law

What is ‘networking’? When you first go to uni, ‘networking’, just like ‘commercial awareness’, will be one of those alien terms that you avoid like the plague. Having just finished my second year of my LLB, I have decided that there is no real definition for commercial awareness, and that as long as you keep your eyes and ears open for business news that might affect, even remotely, legal practice, then you’ve got it covered. Everyone you speak to in law will tell you a different meaning for CA, so it is important that when you’re asked about it in an interview, you have your own understanding of the term ready to explain, and be prepared for criticism!

Networking, in my opinion, is the best thing I have done outside of my degree itself. All networking is, essentially, is taking to people, staying in touch and developing professional relationships. Through doing this, you will be surprised at how many opportunities and experiences come your way, and how beneficial these can be when you come to apply for your training contracts, or any job for that matter. There are a million and one different ways that you can develop your own professional network in law, here are a few of my examples to give you some ideas.

  1. Going to university! This is without a doubt the best way to build you a circle of friends who share common interests. Not only does going to uni give you the required academics to secure a TC, but even talking to lecturers and showing an interest in their past jobs or other roles outside of teaching helps you to establish yourself. For example, through talking to one of my tutors, I found out that she used to work for Irwin Mitchell, so who was the best person to ask to proof read my IM application? Exactly.
  1. The extra bits! Make sure you take full advantage of every extra-curricular activity/ event/ course/ seminar/ lecture that your university offers. At no other point in your life will you be handed so many opportunities, and never again will they be free. Also, look out for schemes such as City Law Live and Lawyer in London. Most of these national events are funded and are an excellent way of getting a foot in the door at some of the top Magic Circle firms including Freshfields and Allen & Overy.
  1. On that note, look out for your local JUNIOR LAWYER’S DIVISION. This is an excellent way of meeting people who are just a few rungs above you on the career ladder. Yes it’s great to speak to associates and partners but sometimes, trainee solicitors are the best people to talk to about what you’re doing NOW. Applying for law now is a completely different ball game to what it was 30 years ago, so if you’re looking for the best answer to ‘which two people from history would you invite to a dinner party and why?’ or ‘which fictional character best describes our firm?’ ask them! Don’t forget that they’ve been in your position and come out the other side, it is possible!
  1. Law/ Careers fairs! Again, although this might sound obvious, there is a knack to tackling the dreaded law fair. BE PREPARED. Research the firms before you, prepare questions that are going to make the listener think about them and make sure to NEVER ask anything that is answered on the firm’s website. If the firm has numerous representatives at their stand, try your best to speak to a partner or head of HR, as they’re the ones who are most likely to read your application, and try to talk about something that will make you memorable, for example, my love for skydiving tends to be a great conversation topic.
  1. Additional courses are a great way of meeting people too. The University of Law for example offer a three-part Practice for Practise event. The first session takes place at most universities, then the second and third parts take place at their Manchester site and consist of a mock assessment centre day, interview tips and networking drinks with Mancunian firms including big names such as JMW, Pannone and DLA Piper. These events may sound scary, but they’re a great opportunity to get your face known, find out more about the firms and get free food and wine! BPP also run similar courses and tackle the dreaded ‘Commercial Awareness’ question. Keep your eye out for adverts around your uni.
  1. Get Linked In! This is the 21st Century, and the world is pretty much run online, Linked In is a great way of telling other professionals what you’re up to, and allows firms and other companies to search for the criteria they want from potential employees, and you might just pop up in their search results!
  1. Be responsible! Try and secure a role that demonstrates your responsibility. Most universities will have positions available for second and final year students to apply for Student Representative roles, West Law and Lexis Nexis reps, Aspiring Solicitors reps, BPP Liaison Officers (like me!), JLD student reps. These are a great way of meeting new people, particularly other students. But also, if you are successful in representing BPP or Uni of Law, you may be entitled to a scholarship or guaranteed place on your LPC! Plus, all of these look great on your applications and will set you aside from other candidates. Why not apply?!
  1. Tell as many people as possible about your course as you never know who might be listening. For example, my first proper law placement was set up because my Mum walked my dog behind a lady’s house who was poorly. My Mum, being a nurse, got talking to her and they became friends. Shortly after, it became apparent that her daughter had done her training contract at Clifford Chance and was now a corporate partner at a top Northern firm in Manchester (Firm X) and voila – my first placement was secured!
  1. Stand out on your placement. In reference to the above, I got speaking to the woman who sat on the next desk in the corporate department about my interest in Healthcare law. Out of pure coincidence, one of her friends had just landed a job at another top Manchester firm in the Clinical Negligence department and she passed me her email address. After sending a couple of emails back and to, I managed to get in touch with HR who offered me a week-long placement in their Healthcare team. And after hearing about this offer, Firm X offered me a placement in their Healthcare team at their head office. You see where I’m going with this? TALK TO EVERYONE. Even now, at my current job in a niche practice in Cheshire, my managing partner collared me in the kitchen last week to say that she had been speaking to someone at Firm X who said that she knew me, and knew I’d got a job as a legal secretary!? Get your name out there.

My ultimate networking TOP TIP is – whenever you meet a new person, ask for their business card and write something on the back that will make you remember them. You wouldn’t believe how many business cards I have picked up over the past 2 years, and this is a great way of remembering each person because names go in one ear and out the other. If you ask me for the names of the people I met at Practice for Practise last year, I wouldn’t have a clue, but I could quite easily tell you about the girl with the fishtail plait from JMW, the blonde girl who did volunteering from Irwin Mitchell and the girl who did a chemistry degree then the GDL from University of Law.

And my second top tip, BE POLITE. If someone spends time talking to you and giving you advice, why not drop them an email just to say thank you? That way, when you send in your application, your previous email will either pop up, or will ring alarm bells that they have already met you.

Finally, your careers department is there to build the link between being a student and being employed, USE IT! Even if it is just to check your CV, read through a vacation scheme or training contract application or to help you write a covering letter, they’re the best people to ask, and if you have a specific Law Careers service, even better!

I hope this is helpful, just remember to grab every opportunity, no matter how tedious or boring it sounds, you might learn something.

Rebecca Ranson

Sheffield Hallam University

Twitter: @RebeccaRanson_

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Mayson, French and Ryan on Company Law 2014 .

For anyone who is studying company law at university , this book is a good addition to lectures , seminars and exam revision.   It covers every topic from business assets , liquidation, directors duties and share capital and is easy to reference if you decide to pick out key cases and statutes.

Advantages.

  1. Relevant material – all material is up to date, and this book even includes cases which have recently been heard in the courts. They use a wide range of old and new cases , which makes it easier to compare and contrast when writing essays.
  2. Approachable – While some law books can seem to put you off with a lengthy introduction, this book does the complete opposite and gets straight into the topic at hand, with easy to understand concepts before going into the legal facts.
  3. Cases – As all law students will inevitably find out , to research a case can take a long time, and to find judgments from certain law lords can take even longer. This book takes out the unnecessary searching and with each case given is a judgement and a paragraph number so you can even go and do the extra research without the hassle .

Disadvantages.

  1. Too many chapters – While this book covers extensive material, it can also cover too much material, and it can be hard to find what you want, when everything is sub divided. While you may be wanting to find a chapters on shares, you may end up with a chapter on a topic completely different .
  2. Bulky – As law students we like to be able to carry around our books at ease, unfortunately this is not the case with this book and it is inevitable that you will end up loaning out your library’s copy instead to save bag space!

Over-all this book is worth the price tag , however bear in mind when you buy it , it is probably not suitable for university use, more home study and revision.

© Jodie Mcmaster 2015 @Totallylegallaw www.strictlylegallaw.wordpress.com comp Teesside University

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Your new Editor-in-Chief

Hi,

It is still Rebecca here (I am here until Thursday) but I just wanted to introduce you to the new Editor-in-Chief..

Zara Finlayson – you can follow her on @FinlaysonZara

She will be taking over the reigns and I am so excited for her and know that she will do brilliantly

So make sure you all engage with the @UniLawStudents tweets and make sure you all still write the odd blog post for UniLawStudents!

Speak soon

Rebecca x

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End of my time as Editor-In-Chief

Hey everyone,

I thought I would just upload a quick post to let you all know that I am leaving the voluntary role as Editor-in-Chief after a brilliant year.

The plan was to stay for the year, and possibly longer if I wanted to, but I made the decision to hand the role over to someone else!

I made the decision based on the fact that I think it is the right time for me to leave, I have lots planned for my own blog which I have been working on throughout as well, and it is also nice to let someone else have a go at this.

This hasn’t been overly time consuming but it has been a great year! I have loved building up the followers and also the number of people writing blog posts – and I will definitely miss it!

When I took over last April it was all very quiet and though Uni Law Students had been going for a while not much had happened in the previous year so I have loved building it up – but I also can’t wait to see where it goes this coming year.

You have all been amazing, and I hope that some of you make the most of the deal with CLT and the paralegal courses!

I had the option to either choose someone myself or advertise the new role, as soon as I made the decision to leave I instantly had someone in mind and I thought I would ask them first and if they didn’t want to then I would advertise the role.

They did want to take this up, and I will be uploading a blog post very shortly introducing your new Editor-in-Chief!

Please continue to support Uni Law Students – it is a great platform for you guys to share legal news/study tips etc and I hope that the amount of people writing blog posts increases!

In the meantime if you want to keep in touch with me I am on twitter: @lawyer_inmaking and my blog is http://lawyerinthemaking.co.uk

Speak soon and a massive thank you once again!

Rebecca x

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Exam Tips: Before, During and After

Now I’m sure that almost every law lecturer will provide exam tips regarding their subjects and by the final year of your degree, most students roll their eyes at the thought of being told how to revise, however there are several key tips that I would never ignore! This list is by no mean exhaustive and I am certain it will not be ground-breaking news to any current law students.

Pre-Exam

  • It’s never too early to start. Revision can seem daunting and what can seem even scarier is beginning to comprise revision material. As the date of the exam looms you may even consider skipping a revision topic or two to allow for specific focus to be given to other areas, however this does not need to happen! With careful planning revision can be just that little bit easier. It is never too soon to begin making revision notes, posters, cheat-sheets or whatever is your preferred method of revising. One of my key tips would be when you have a couple of days where you have no immediate work or deadlines to be focusing on, to spend even just a little time creating some kind of revision material, irrespective of what semester it is; your exam may be months away and while it may seem like a pointless exercise, you’ll be grateful when the time finally comes and most of your preparation for the exam has already been done.
  • Attend revision sessions. If your lecturer is taking the time to prepare revision sessions then I would strongly recommend that you attend. Revision sessions generally include a recap over the key elements which must be present in a successful answer, so attending such sessions will enable you to check that your revision material has all of these elements present. It also gives you the opportunity to ask your lecturer any last minute questions; any queries regarding an exam are far more likely to be addressed in a full room as opposed to in a one-on-one meeting so take advantage of this.
  • Practice makes perfect. Getting your hands on previous exam papers can be an invaluable aid to revision! Get familiar with past papers, particularly if they have been written by the same lecturer who is issuing your present paper; judge their writing style, what sort of questions they ask, are there any recurring topics? It is also beneficial to time yourself answering exam questions (whether they be from previous papers or suggested questions in textbooks) in order to learn how you cope with the time constraints. There is nothing worse than attempting your first timed answer during the real paper and realising that you do not have enough time to cover everything which is vital to the topic.
  • Rest your mind. The temptation to stay up late and cram the night before the exam is often all too strong however in reality it is no good for you; you tire yourself out and end up feeling frustrated at not being able to remember even the most simplest of things. You can always do some last-minute reading on the morning of the exam however you cannot catch up on hours’ worth of lost sleep!

During the Exam

  • Read the question. Sounds like a basic tip, right? But writing all of the correct information however not answering the question is not going to impress the marker or get you a higher result. Understand what is being asked of you before diving in.
  • Once again the temptation to jump straight in and scribble everything down can lead to simple and avoidable mistakes; mistakes which are then time-consuming to change when and if discovered. Take a few minutes to plan, even if it is just to jot down the key cases or statutes that you know you must include. You’ll be thankful if your mind goes blank half way through the paper. Planning also helps with structure; knowing exactly what you want to write and exactly what order to lay in out in will not only make for a smoother answer, but it will also enable the marker of your paper to easily understand your work and therefore award you marks.
  • Highlight key points. If you are permitted to take highlighters into the exam then please do so! Clearly demonstrate that you know exactly what you are talking about and draw the marker towards the evidence of this, whether it is cases or statutes. Also if you have colour-coded revision notes then using the same colour highlighters in an exam may provide a visual stimulus and enable you to remember certain pieces of information.
  • Keep an eye on the time. Clock-watching throughout an exam can cause panic and distress however you need to also ensure that you will not run out of time before completing your paper. Be practical; if it is time to move onto the next question however your first answer is incomplete, simply leave a space and move on to the next question. If you have time at the end go back to the prior question and carry on. You are far more likely to achieve a higher mark if you have attempted to answer all of the questions as opposed to having one question fully complete and then only a paragraph for the next question.
  • Read over your answer. Reading over your paper at the end can truly be the difference in a good mark and a not so good mark. Once more, ensure that you have answered the question being asked and also that you have included the key elements. If you realise something vital is missing, include an asterisk and ensure that the information does not go unnoticed. Also if you notice any spelling errors or grammatical inconsistencies, now is the time to change them.

Post-Exam

  • Never discuss your answer with friends. “Oh I didn’t include that…” is never a comfort to hear right after an exam. Just because your friends did or did not include the exact same content as you, this does not mean that you have failed the paper.
  • Do not look at revision material. There is always that temptation whilst your exam answer is fresh in your mind to look at your revision notes to ensure that you have included everything. My advice would be to never do this; irrespective of whether you have included every single point from your revision notes or whether you have not included a single thing, by this time it makes no difference whatsoever. You have completed the paper and rereading revision notes can cause panic and stress over a situation in which you now have no control over.
  • Whilst it may not always be possible to receive feedback on an exam paper once you have received your results, where it is possible to do so I would highly recommend it. If you pass the exam, feedback may aid you in sitting other exams. On the other hand, if you unfortunately have to re-sit the exam feedback can help to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.
  • CELEBRATE! Once the exam is over it’s time to celebrate in any way you want, whether you socialise with family/friends or catch up on some sleep, you’ve earned it so enjoy it!!

© Amy Laws 2015 (@Amy_Laws)

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Amazing offer from CLT!

Please check out this amazing offer from CLT for all you followers of Uni Law Students, don’t forget to stop by and follow them on twitter @CLTParalegal

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The links in this section will take you to our online prospectus. Central Law Training (CLT) is the leading provider of paralegal training in UK law  – working with educational partners at Edexcel, the University of the West of England (and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland) and we have recently been appointed as the preferred training provider of the Institute of Paralegals, the foremost professional body for paralegals in the UK. Graduates are entitled to become Qualified Paralegals (and use the designation Q. Inst. Pa.) on successful completion of the course – providing international recognition of your paralegal expertise. 

 There are two levels of standard qualification available across 12 practice areas (click on the links for an explanation of how each course is delivered):

§  BTEC Online Diploma suitable for those new to an area, with little or no knowledge of the practice area. Equivalent to A-Level (QCF Level 3)

o    Introductory course with average completion of 3-4 months;£695 + VAT – reduced to £495 + VAT for your readers;delivered entirely online with tutor feedback and support

§  CLT Specialist Paralegal Qualification suitable for law students or for career legal secretaries/paralegals/support staff looking to progress careers or fee earn. Equivalent to a unit from the final year of a law degree (QCF Level 6)

o    Specialist qualification with average completion of 6-9 months;£1,695 + VAT – reduced to £1,045 + VAT for your readers;delivered entirely online but supported by dedicated textbooks and interactive tutor support

 Individuals with legal academic experience should be aiming to study the CLT Specialist Paralegal Qualification.

 There are no academic requirements or prerequisites which need to be satisfied before a student can undertake a programme – the courses are open and accessible to all and we recommend the CLT Specialist Paralegal Qualifications as these are designed to take you through the basics to develop a specialist understanding of the day to day working practices in a particular discipline. This is an excellent way for aspirant legal professionals to understand how the law is practised in an area, so that they can hit the ground running when they enter the profession.

 All of our training is subject specific and designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills required to successfully practice in a legal discipline. We offer training in the following areas:

·         Child Care Law

·         Civil Litigation

·         Commercial Property

·         Company Law

·         Criminal Litigation

·         Debt Recovery

·         Employment Law

·         Family Law

·         Personal Injury Law

·         Residential Conveyancing

·         Software Contracts

·         Wills, Probate & Administration

I would highly recommend these courses and the support from CLT is amazing, it also sets you aside from other students! When signing up for these courses please mention that you have come from Uni Law Students so that you get your discount and also don’t forget to let us know what you have signed up for!

Rebecca x

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