Alex Courtnage (recent grad) – Legal Man!

From the 23rd to the 27th of June 2014 I was on a mini-pupillage with barristers from Francis Taylor Buildings, a Chambers based in the Inner Temple in London. The Chamber’s expertise lies mainly in Licensing, Environmental Law, Village Green Law and Land Law. Prior to this week, the mini-pupillages which I had undertaken over the last two years had been largely based in Criminal Litigation sets, so I knew that this work experience would provide something refreshing and different.

Over the course of the week, I was principally based in the High Court (in the Royal Courts of Justice) with a variety of Barristers. On the Wednesday however, I travelled to The Thames Magistrates Court in Bow, to shadow a Barrister whom I had met previously when advocating on a case for the Kent Law Clinic. On the first two days, I witnessed a case on the closure of a landfill site in the South of England; on the third day I witnessed a case on public nuisance and licensing for festivals in the London area; on the fourth day I saw several permissions to appeal on a series of land ownership cases, and on the final day I shadowed a barrister who was appearing on a case concerning a new wind farm project in Somerset.

Each of the cases which I observed over the course of the week was focused on a different area of law entirely, allowing me to engage with several new legal topics and examine the range advocacy of the various lawyers with whom I was placed.

Whilst in court, I would be taking notes for the Barrister and for myself, making an additional note of anything which I did not understand. Outside of the court room, we would discuss extensively the issues in the case, and how these could be approached, whether through certain questions to put to witnesses or through technical legal arguments to be raised in court. This required me to think on my feet and to pay close attention to everything that was said in court by Counsel, the Judge and the Witnesses. Given that I was experiencing and learning about new areas of Law, the Barristers were more patient and understanding with any questions that I had. I would also be present during client interviews, during which I also was taking notes.

Regarding skills gained for the future, it is always useful to witness different styles of advocacy, in order to improve my own. There was also much to be gained from sitting in on client interviews, as it demonstrated the patience necessary when dealing with clients, who often can get aggravated when the case is not running in their favour.

Learning how to deal with people in these situations is an invaluable skill. Overall, the bursary allowed me to engage more extensive with the law and its administration, providing me with the opportunity to expand my legal knowledge and to network with those in the legal profession.

Without the assistance from the university, I would not have been able to undertake this valuable work experience, for which I am incredibly grateful.

– Alex Courtnage, recent Kent Graduate, and recipient of the B-KEW bursary

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