Alumni Wins Scholarship to Train as Barrister

Law alumni, Curtis Dunkley has been awarded a scholarship to train as a Barrister and has written an account about the application. 

Chris Dunkley in the mock courtroom at Staffordshire University

For the process of applying for the scholarship I had to submit a personal statement and fill out a general scholarship application form. The scholarship that I applied for and was awarded was one for academic excellence.

For me, the demonstration of academic excellence was my time at Staffordshire University. I didn’t do the best at college and as such I did the law degree with foundation year. Despite my lack of A2 levels at college, I demonstrated the academic excellence by attaining a first class law degree, with my highest result being 88% in the Legal Advice Clinic module.

I worked incredibly hard to attain this degree and it is something I’m very proud of, I believe I’ve demonstrated a turnaround of academic record and my overall attitude in regards to education. I kept on top of my work at Staffs and really put the effort in to get my desired degree.

My advice to any prospective students looking to sit the BTC or any postgraduate study where they may have to apply for scholarships would be to work hard at an undergraduate level. Put the extra effort in, go above and beyond, do as much pro bono as possible! I would definitely recommend the Legal Advice Clinic module for students, this gives you a great insight into life in practice and also gives them the opportunity to put in extra shifts and go above and beyond.

I appreciate that as a first year student at undergraduate level you don’t particularly want to be doing extra curricular activities or work experience but it is essential. These will broaden your horizons, make connections within the legal community and put you in better standing when they apply for scholarships, a pupillage or a place on a postgraduate course.

Law is extremely competitive and I would advise all students to do everything they can to make themselves stand out from the rest of people who are applying. You need to put the effort in from day one, make connections, go to the careers fair, speak to
lecturers and get themselves on LinkedIn!

I have no doubt that many more staffs students are capable of attaining scholarships and would definitely recommend pursuing a career at the bar if they enjoy the advocacy side of law.


Natter Me Duck

Policing Lecturer and Mental Health Coordinator, Deborah Sproston-Bewley, talks about the ‘Natter Me Duck’ initiative she created to help out students during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Within a few days in March the measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 became immediate and were drastic. You don’t have to be at the epicentre of the pandemic for your life to be turned upside down; due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it is a scary time for students.

Our campus became quiet and our classes moved on-line, all of which impact on the students.

We have students who are still living on campus and maybe feeling sad and isolated.

I am the Mental Health Coordinator for the school, and as such I thought about what I could do while we were all in lockdown and unable to communicate with each other on a regular basis. 

I came up with Natter Me duck, which is a platform through collaborate that students can log into on a specific day and just have a natter, not just with me but with other students.  For those of you that don’t know in Stoke-on-Trent duck is a common phase used.  E.g. you OK duck?

The idea behind ‘Natter Me duck’ was for students to natter about anything.  From how I cut my fringe? how do I bake a cake? or I’m suffering with anxiety due to void 19. It is a place where students can share their experiences and support and advise one another.  

The main aim is just to have a natter and for students not to feel isolated and on their own.  

An e-mail is sent out to all 750 students in our school which informs them of the date and time of a ‘natter me duck’ session and gives them the link to join.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Some thoughts on World Day for International Justice

On World Day for International Justice (17th July), Law Lecturer, Dr John McGarry shares some thoughts on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The other day, some friends mentioned that their daughter who, after years of saying she wanted to become an engineer, had decided that she now wants to study law. Part of the catalyst for her change of mind had been the death of George Floyd in the US, as well as other allegations of police brutality, heavy-handedness and injustices against black people, and other members of BAME communities, both in the US and in the UK.

I suggested that she might enjoy the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. The book had lately been on my mind because, being one of my favourites, I had recently persuaded my 12 year old son to read it. Also, as it happens, I am writing this in July 2020, the 60th anniversary of the book’s publication in July 1960.

The book’s narrator is Scout Finch who tells of events from her and her elder brother Jem’s childhood. It is set in the 1930s, Depression era America, in Maycomb, Alabama, a society rigidly and deeply divided by racial bigotry.

At the story’s heart is the false accusation of rape made against a black man, Tom Robinson, by a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Scout and Jem’s widowed father, Atticus Finch, who is the town lawyer and a representative in the State legislature, is appointed by the local Judge to represent the defendant. He explains to Scout that, despite there being some ‘high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn’t do much about defending this man’ he was morally compelled to do so because ‘if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.’ So, contrary to the sentiments of many of his neighbours, Atticus defends Tom fully and to the best of his ability. Despite this, and despite his obvious innocence, Tom is found guilty of the rape. He is later fatally shot while trying to escape from custody.

 

What shines compellingly throughout the book is the outright simple decency of Atticus Finch. Even in his questioning in court of Mayella and her father, he acts with courtesy and humanity. This is especially so with Mayella; he recognises the ignorance, poverty and brutality that blights her life. And it is clear that it causes Atticus significant anguish to reveal beyond any doubt that Mayella is lying, which humiliates Mayella and her father, but which Atticus must do to defend Tom and attempt to save his life.

Scout and Jem’s relationship with their father is also central to the book. Jem, in particular, as the older child, gradually begins to realise with dismay the inherent injustices of the society in which they live and to appreciate the remarkableness of his father. Atticus, in turn, tries to instil in his children his own values, including that they should try to understand those around them and see things from their perspective, saying to Scout ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’ (incidentally, Barack Obama adopted this quotation in his farewell address as President).

I have always been struck by one particular vignette in the book: Atticus teaching his son about courage by making him read every afternoon to their dislikeable neighbour Mrs Dubose as punishment for Jem attacking the camellias in her front garden. We later learn that Mrs Dubose was dying, that Atticus asked Jem to read to her in order to provide a distraction while she weaned herself off the morphine to which she was addicted, and that this was because she wanted to leave the world free of her addiction. Atticus later explains to Jem:

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.”

 This, of course, is also true of Atticus’s defending of Tom Robinson – that in a society like Maycomb in the 1930s, Atticus was beaten before he began in trying to defend accusations against a black man made by a white woman, but that he saw it through anyway, no matter what.

Many find To Kill a Mockingbird to be poignant and uplifting; and many lawyers were motivated to pursue their careers because of it and they continue to be inspired by the character of Atticus Finch. An illustration of this enduring influence is the erection, in 1997, of a monument to Atticus Finch by the Alabama Bar Association in Monroeville, Harper Lee’s hometown.

Yet, the book has also been subject to criticisms. It has been criticised for perpetuating a white saviour myth whereby the poor black man needs to be saved by the good, honest white man. I acknowledge the charge but think that, in depicting a particular time and place, the book probably accurately reflects the reality: that in 1930s Alabama a black person would need a white lawyer if charged with a crime as serious as rape. It has also been said that Atticus does not sufficiently challenge the bigotry of those around him, his friends and his neighbours. This criticism seems to me to have some strength; indeed, as I have already indicated, Atticus advises his children to try to rub along with those around them. But I also wonder whether it is completely valid. How many of us call out every injustice that we see or every illiberal opinion that we hear? Not many, I imagine; most of us pick our battles and try to do good where we can.

Besides, when it would have been easier to do otherwise, Atticus defends Tom Robinson to the full extent of his capabilities. And he does so even though this comes at significant emotional, and sometimes physical, cost to himself and his children – even camping outside Tom’s prison cell the night before the trial to protect him from a lynch mob.

So, despite the criticisms, I see Atticus Finch as a hero and, while a work of fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird, like all fiction, reveals truth – that injustices are perpetuated by human beings, not monsters; and that people are complex, they may be thoroughly abhorrent in some ways while being noble and virtuous in many others. The book also serves as a worthwhile reminder to would-be lawyers of the good they can do in a world where justice is sometimes in short supply and where lawyers often acquire a poor reputation; indeed, it is a reminder that lawyers may sometimes be the only ones that stand between people and the injustices they face, that it may take real courage to do this when the client or the case is unpopular but that they do it anyway because it is the right, the decent, the just, thing to do.

 

Student Wins Middle Temple’s Access to the Bar Award

Chelsea Leonard, a Law student, has obtained an Access to the Bar Award from Middle Temple.

According to Middle Temple’s website, Middle Temple has established its Middle Temple Access to the Bar Award, which involves one week’s marshalling and one week’s mini-pupillage for undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing them with funding for those two weeks.  University departments are invited to nominate one candidate each, with about a dozen being shortlisted for interview by the Inn.  The scheme will provide for eight placements per year in future.

Each award consists of one week’s work experience in a set of barristers’ chambers and one week’s marshalling a judge, during university vacations in summer.  

“I was fortunate to be awarded the COMBAR Access to the Bar Award funded by the Commercial Bar Association, who will arrange placements specifically for those interested in seeing commercial work. I was initially very surprised, but it was encouraging to receive confirmation that you have worked hard, and these efforts [are] being rewarded. The practical experience of the award will be invaluable. To gain experience marshalling alone is very difficult, we also get this experience for a whole week which is unheard of. The experience within the chambers for this length of time will be an amazing opportunity to make contacts and receive feedback. This experience will give my interest in the bar a great deal of credibility being able to cite.” 

 

Congratulations Chelsea! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Imports Are a Threat to Our Environment

On World Environment Day, Sallyann Mellor, Lectuer in Law, addresses the issue regarding the Agricultural Bill, brought about from leaving the EU, and what this means for our environment. 

Our UK Government had the opportunity to amend the Agricultural Bill on 13th May 2020 to ensure imported foods followed the same strict food hygiene and animal standards that our UK farmers pride their selves on. Sadly, the move to change was defeated in the House of Commons by a majority of 51 votes.

The Agricultural Bill provides a framework that will replace agricultural support schemes such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to the UK leaving the EU. It is due to pass through parliament by the end of summer.

English farmers will be paid to produce goods which have a positive impact on the environment or animal welfare improvements.

The Bill offers wider measures to ensure fairness in the agricultural supply chain and there have been several additions to the Bill compared with the previous Bill which stalled due to the dissolution of parliament in October 2019. These wider measures include a requirement whereby ministers will report on food security at least once every five years, set out how farming will be funded by submission of plans and the consideration of food production in England, to encourage environmental sustainability.

Bottom of Form

You might be thinking so what, surely that will mean greater choice and cheaper prices? The truth is, we should all be concerned.

If we have learnt nothing else from the COVID19 pandemic it is how important it is to support our British Farmers and buy local because they came up trumps when some products were in short supply.

Have you noticed how blue and clear the sky has been since lockdown, have you heard more bird song and noticed how green our environment is…? The defeat will undoubtedly place our repairing environment under additional threat from imports that will increase emissions and undermine the hard work of our UK farmers in ensuring animal welfare and environmental standards are met.

What are our British farmers doing to support our environment? You may not know that our farmers are trying to tackle climate change to meet the UK Government commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. They do this daily by allowing cows and sheep to graze. You will have read no doubt the controversy regarding cows and sheep in relation to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.  However, what you may not realise is that grazing livestock can bring many environmental benefits.

65% of UK farmland is only suitable for growing grass and grazing. Grasslands store carbon which removes carbon dioxide from the environment as the plant grows and stores its carbon in the soil. Cows and sheep feed on the grass and by eating the grass and fertilising the soil, beef and sheep manage the grass and protect the valuable carbon stores.

Emissions from UK farming is estimated to be around 5% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, this will only increase from importing foods into the UK and seeks only to undermine the efforts of our British farmers.

The impact also on animal welfare must not be ignored, sadly importing products into the UK that do not follow our standards again undermines all that we do. The Red Tractor campaign was launched in September 2019 and remains today to demonstrate that the products proudly displaying the logo are safely produced, responsibly sources and crops and animals are carefully cared for. There are 4 main key standards that all farmers must adhere to if they are given the approval to display the iconic red tractor logo on their product.

  1. Animal welfare-animals must be housed with the right space, water and food and be healthy
  2. Environmental protection-fertilisers and pesticides are only ever used as a last resort to keep crops healthy. Farmers ensure that pollution and impact to wildlife is minimal.
  3. Food safety-no hormone growth, use of any animal medicine, no chlorine washed meat or poultry.
  4. Traceability- food products can be traced from the pack to the farm.

Whilst money will be tight given the economic climate we find ourselves in, please consider your purchases. The cheaper food products will have a significant impact on our environment. Continue to support your local farmer/butcher just as you have during the pandemic.  Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables that have been brought over by boat and not air where possible to reduce carbon footprint or better still buy locally produced seasonal fruit and vegetables.

It is the small things that can really make a difference but the lack of transparency to the consumer in relation the Agricultural Bill is really very important and I hope this blog has given you food for thought… 

Some useful links

https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/agriculture/documents.html

https://www.redtractor.org.uk/press/red-tractor-launches-new-britains-biggest-farmers-market-campaign/

https://www.sustainweb.org/foodandfarmingpolicy/agriculture_bill/

https://www.nfuonline.com/news/eu-exit/eu-exit-rh-panel/the-agriculture-bill-2020-information-hub/

 

SULAC – The Year So Far

Staffordshire University’s Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) has been running for almost two years now, after the launch in October 2018. Tracey Horton, Senior Lecturer in Law with a background working as a Solicitor, is the SULAC Manager and couldn’t be more pleased with how it has been going so far.

 SULAC is run as a 30-credit module in the final year of our LLB degrees. SULAC provides free legal advice to the general public and certain sectors of the community across Staffordshire and Shropshire.

The students are supervised by qualified solicitors and academics. The service provides a letter of advice on a range of issues including housing, family, consumer and employment law and it does not currently undertake case work or provide representation, although the service may be expanded to include this work in the future.

Research shows that around 870,800 people live in Staffordshire of 309,000 households (2017) and, based on the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation, 49 of Staffordshire’s 528 lower super output areas (LSOA’s) fall within the top 20% of the most deprived nationally. 

Around 54% of people over 65 in Staffordshire are thought to have a family long term illness. Around 11% of households are believed to be on a low income. These people are likely to have no assets and to be reliant on benefits.

There are a number of areas in Staffordshire where families and communities face multiple issues such as unemployment, poor housing and poor quality of life. With these needs comes the need for legal advice.

Tracey states that “the SULAC module allows the University to help our local community whilst providing the students with ‘real world’ experience. SULAC’s service is a direct response to the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable in our society and to the public sector. Increasingly people are struggling to get legal assistance because of legal aid cuts, court closures and expensive court fees. Many agencies have had budget cuts which makes the situation worse.”

SULAC offers clinics to the general public at various locations, which makes it unique.

“We also wanted to forge links with as many of our partners as possible so that we are able to give something back and assist with any research requirements they may have.

“We have a bespoke case management system which allows us to comply with professional conduct rules, remain paperless and GDPR complaint.”

Here are the areas this year’s clinic provide a service too

Stoke on Trent Combined Court

SULAC provided a drop-in service for the general public, every Monday (term time) at this location.

Signpost Stafford

Signpost Stafford is a grass roots community hub in the middle of a council estate in Stafford. It is a project that was set up in 2007 and is funded through the lottery. There are counsellors there, a food bank and a bank of computers for the local residents to use. In the circumstances, there is already a community presence. In addition to providing legal advice the students integrated into the local community which forged links. SULAC provided a drop in and appointment service on Tuesdays (term time) at this location.

House of Bread

House of Bread is an organisation that provides food and support for the vulnerable and homeless of Stafford. SULAC provided a drop in service once a month.

HMP Stafford

SULAC provided a clinic, once a month, to prison officers and staff at HMP Stafford. HMP Stafford holds around 750 category C prisoners convicted of sexual offences. In addition to providing the service to staff members, the prison officers also educated the students on issues such as probation, outreach and sometimes the students also sat in on prisoner adjudication hearings. The students also undertook a collaborative research project with HMP Stafford aimed at improving outcomes for the men incarcerated.

Royal Stoke and County Hospitals

SULAC provided a clinic, once a month, to staff members at these hospitals.

Military Base

SULAC provided a clinic, once a month, to a military base. We are hoping to expand and develop this clinic.

YMCA

SULAC offered a clinic once a month to residents of the YMCA. We hope to be able to develop this clinic.

Macmillan Cancer Support

SULAC offered a virtual priority link to cancer patients, within Staffordshire, via Macmillan Cancer Support. Most of the problems related to employment law, particularly returning to work after treatment. It is hoped that this service can be expanded to include street law projects.

MPs

SULAC offered a virtual priority link to Gareth Snell, MP and a physical clinic to constituents of Jeremy Lefroy MP.’s constituents. We also offered to assist with any generic research matters. Unfortunately, the dissolution of parliament hindered our progress, but we hope to be able to develop our links with MPs in the future.

Street Law

SULAC provided a street law project to lung cancer survivors on consumer law. We hope to be able to expand these projects to more members of the community in the future.

The Process

No client is seen without a supervisor and no letter of advice is sent out unless it has been approved by a supervisor.

Clients are interviewed by two students and their supervisor. The students will then research the area of law and a letter of advice will be sent to the client within 14 days. No advice is given at the first interview. Where SULAC cannot assist the students will signpost or refer to another organisation, where possible.

“In 2019/2020 SULAC assisted 178 clients (and continuing). 75 of these enquiries related to family law. With just 22 students and one clinic manager/supervisor the level of commitment and dedication of the students was exceptional.”

 

What the clients say

C:  “Thank you very much for the help you and your students do for the people in need”

P: “Excellent service from all involved. I am now clear on what I have to do. Many thanks”

M:  “I just wanted to drop you a quick email to say thank you for your help. While you weren’t able to help directly, the forms and the “idiots guide” you provided were invaluable. With that help I was able to successfully apply myself. You were a great help and I wish you all the best in the future”

T:  “Was very satisfied. Have been and seen a mediator and she thought you were brilliant and has taken your details”

J: “We used SULAC because it was a free service. We liked the idea of giving students experience in real cases. We needed to know where we stand legally before spending any more money”.

Awards

“We were delighted to be shortlisted for “Best New Probono Activity” and “Best Contribution by an Individual Law Student” in the 2019 Attorney General/Lawworks Student Probono Awards; Best Probono Activity and Best Contribution by a Law Clinic in the Lawworks Probono Awards 2019 and the Probono Award in the Lexis Nexis Legal Awards 2020.”

SULAC is a fantastic opportunity for our students and really enhances their employability. They gain real experience working in legal advice, gain complex problem solving skills, emotional intelligence, service orientation, negotiation, people management, critical thinking and much more.

Tracey said “In addition to this it helps with communication, customer awareness, time management and overall confidence. It provides the students with self-discipline and work ethic and several of our students have obtained training contracts because local employers are so impressed with the initiative.

“In addition to assisting with employability our students have also found that the module helped them with their studies, increasing their confidence in group work and helping them to overcome anxiety issues in their personal life.”

SULAC will continue to assist with helping meet the legal needs of the local community and our partners.

SULAC usually only runs in term time and was due to end in March 2020. In light of Covid19, however, we decided to continue the service remotely to assist our local community during this stressful time.

If you would like legal advice or would like to discuss other matters, please contact us:

SULAC

Staffordshire University

LW106, Ashley 2

Leek Road

Stoke on Trent

ST4 2DF

Tel: 01782 294800

Email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

A Motivational Message from Law Alumni

Law Alumni, Mark Hemming is a Barrister at Goldsmiths Chambers and has been in to talk to our students previously and support in our annual Law Fair. He has written a post to help motivate Law students, which has also been circulated on our Blackboard Community page.

Hi to all students, under- and post graduate at Staffordshire University Law School!

In these difficult times of Coronavirus and Lockdown, I am noticing an increase in requests for assistance and support from law students across social media, largely from people professing to be from a position of disadvantage whether that be socially, economically, financially, geographically or academically.

Whilst I cannot answer to all of these disadvantages, I hope that this outline of my journey, together with my experience of the ever changing, and challenging legal profession thus far, will provide some solace and assistance.

From the outset I invite any or all of you to find me and connect on LinkedIn, which, for those who do not know, is probably the most effective way of getting to know, and being known, in the  legal and business community.

I remember from age 13 wanting to be a lawyer, but for one reason or another, mainly lack of true motivation and commitment, I ended up in work, without having gone to university (other than the School of Life!). Save for an attempt to gain employment as a trainee Legal Executive, which was unsuccessful, for lack of Maths ‘O’ Level (GCSE), I thought I had missed the boat for a career in Law.

Twenty five years ago, this summer, I attended at Staffordshire University Law School for what I thought was a “chat” with the Head, about studying as a mature student. I did not know there was such a thing! I shall not bore you with the details, but by the end of the meeting, I was offered a place to study Law, starting that year, 1995!

After a lot of soul searching and rejigging of finances, I, as a husband, and  father of a three year old, and a 9 week old child, at the age of 32, left my job in Finance, and enrolled onto the LLB (Hons) degree course, a full time student.

It had been 15 years since I had sat an exam, or written an essay, and by the time I had had my first semester results, I wondered whether I had made a mistake in going down this path. It was only when my tutor told me that exam and essay answers were as much about knack as they were about revision and knowledge, that I was able to move on.

Each semester became easier, as I became more savvy in the art of exam preparation and sitting. I had decided to do my studies each day between 9 and 5, in part because they were some of the hours which I had been used to, whilst working. I had also chosen subjects, where possible, which I could do without tortuous hours in an examination room! LLB (Hons) is that, no matter how it’s completed.

By the end of my degree studies I had achieved a 2:1 degree. This in an era when only two of my contemporaries achieved first class honours, one of whom is high flying attorney in Chicago, and the other equally high flying in the City.

I was fortunate, as I really wanted to complete the Bar Vocational Course (BVC), that as I was about to apply to study the Legal Practice Course, it was announced that the BVC was to be franchised from the Inns of Court School of Law to some regional universities.

Nottingham Law School being one of them, I completed my application, and was granted a place.

Another steep learning curve!

I travelled 2 hours daily, by train, 6am, returning on the 6pm, which allowed me to prepare for classes on both trips, something which I still do now, and which meant that the required work to be done in the evening, was minimal. The course was designed to mirror as closely as possible, life at the Bar, where your instructions will be received late, if at all, before your hearing. We were given our pink ribbon-tied brief each evening. Now we are just “invited onto CCDCS” (Crown Court Digital Case System)!

At the time, this course was the one which focussed on advocacy, which I wanted to do, and litigation, both civil and criminal, mostly assessed, rather than examined. The hardest part was having to learn, part way through the academic year, the then new, Civil Procedure Rules!

Much different now, is the Legal Practice Course (as was) in that it covers advocacy, quite rightly. Then, my former undergraduate colleagues informed me that it consisted of how to fill in forms! Not sure how true.

Whilst I am fully aware that I have said nothing about Legal Executives, that is simply because I know nothing about their qualification, and will leave that to someone with more knowledge! Suffice to say that I am fully supportive of the steps taken for them to do the same work as the rest of the profession.

With a few hiccoughs along the way, I passed the BVC as “very competent”!

Having been called to the Bar in October 1999, accompanied to Temple Church, London, by my wife and two children, who had been a big influence and help, along the way, not least because they meant that failure was not an option, I was then entitled to use the title Non-Practising Barrister. I was a lawyer!

Next step, pupillage.

Pupillages were not paid then (and some are still not), indeed pupils had only just moved on from paying for the privilege!

One piece of advice: a pupillage is just that. It matters not where you complete it, and does not prevent you from moving to another perhaps, more lucrative chambers as a tenant, when you will have been able to prove your worth at the Bar, rather than as one of many “unknown quantities” seeking pupillage.

I decided to apply for positions as a clerk/paralegal while waiting for responses to pupillage applications (plenty interviews, all of which were in London! No offers).

I was offered a job in Family law, of which I knew nothing, which I did for 9 months, before moving to study for the Police Station Qualification, completion of which put me in the position of working most evenings and weekends, as well as the day job as a criminal paralegal! Whoopee!

Whilst I am not sure that it can still be done, having passed the BVC, being called to the Bar, and worked for two years in practice “akin to training contract”, I was able to complete another course and transfer my allegiance to the Law Society. In 2002, I was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors, upon which I remain, during which time I have worked in, supervised and directed legal practices and staff.

For completeness, in 2004, I became a Solicitor Advocate, thereby doing the same work, had I completed pupillage, in all higher courts in England and Wales.

All changed again in 2018, when I was defending a trial against a Barrister whom I had known at Bar School. We got into conversation, during which I emailed him a copy of my cv, resulting in my being invited to become a tenant in a London set, and becoming Barrister at Law, almost twenty years after Call.

Work hard, play hard and keep as many options open as possible. It can be done, and there is more than one way to get there. It does not have to be done over a set period of time.

Good luck!

Mark Hemming

Barrister at Law

Goldsmith Chambers

Why Choose Staffordshire University Law Department?

Law Lecturer, Kath Harvey tells us why she is #ProudToBeStaffs teaching our Law students at Staffordshire University. 

I joined Staffs Law Department in 2017  as a part time hourly paid lecturer, delivering skills sessions in interviewing and negotiation. It was an opportunity for me to “dip my toes” before taking the plunge into the world of academia. A world which was unfamiliar to me, a practitioner of almost 30 years specialising in Civil Litigation, Housing, ASB amongst other less exciting areas.  Did I enjoy it? Absolutely! I soon realised that I could contribute something of value to the student experience, a chance to bring the text book to life. With so many life experiences I couldn’t resist basing the exercises on actual cases I had dealt with over my career .The feedback from the students was heartening and encouraged me to take “the leap”.

Joining Staffs full time in 2018 I was tasked with delivering Property Law at undergraduate, Work Experience and Criminal and Civil Litigation on the LPC. Again, I seized the opportunity to bring law to life, sharing my many real life examples (some very embarrassing, but nevertheless it helped the students to remember the legal principle or the case!) to enhance the text book theory.  Not a single property student leaves the module without understanding what title means! (unlike myself who naively informed the Judge that it was “Miss” rather than “Freehold”!! – back in my paralegal days I hasten to add).

Often the students ask “do you prefer teaching or being in practice”? A difficult one to answer. After years in practice I am enjoying the job satisfaction that teaching brings. Winning your case after months of hard work, beating your opponent, getting a just result is rewarding that’s true, but seeing your students grow in confidence, watching them succeed, encouraging them to reach for the stars is a whole new job satisfaction.

So why choose Staffs Law School? Because we care that’s why.

Level 4 LLB students engage with some critical aspects of mooting.

Some of our LLB (Hons) Law students, at Level 4, took part in a practical exercise in March where they engaged with some of the critical aspects of mooting.

This took place in their module ‘English Legal System and Legal Skills’.

The module teaches student about what the English legal system is, how Laws are made and how the system works. The module then develops students’ negotiation skills, how to present information, debate, conduct research and other skills to purse a successful career in Law.

Preparation for Parental Leave

Lauren Evans (student)

Employees are entitled to shared parental leave (“SPL”) and statutory shared parental pay (“SHPP”) if they have a baby or adopt a child. Employees can start SPL if they are eligible. Parents are able to decide between them how much time they choose, and who will take it, however in a recent Yougov survey 78% of HR professionals felt that there were problems offering it in their organisation so it appears that there remains a stigma attached to taking this leave.

As societal norms are changing more fathers should feel able to ask for time off or assert their right to participate in childcare. Law Firm Winckworth Sherwood suggests ‘organisations should be preparing for more staff taking shared parental leave, as attitudes towards caring responsibilities begin to shift and more employers decide to enhance pay for parents taking the entitlement’.

More parents are opting to take this, although there are barriers. It is a complex statutory scheme and it is ‘relatively low paid’. Fathers are calling for the pay to match the extended maternity pay. If this happens, or employers agree to this voluntarily, it is expected there will be a major change in shared parental leave.

HR decision- makers told researchers for its’ “Shifting attitudes to flexible working and childcare for working parents’ report that they had seen an increase in requests for SPL and working hours being adapted to assist two working parents.

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic ( SULAC) we offer free legal advice on employment matters for members of the public. SULAC is currently open and offers appointments in Stoke on Trent and Stafford. For more information or to book an appointment please contact SULAC@staffs.ac.uk or call 01782 294 800.