Letters from London
We asked UK Law students studying abroad in London this semester to write us letters about their experiences. Check back regularly for more letters!
Ariana Nami '13
Dear Alumni, Staff and Colleagues,
I write to you from London with joy, enlightenment and an appreciation for law like I have never had before. When I first talked about participating in the London Law Consortium as a 3L, several people said to me, “Why? Don’t you want to spend your last year with your classmates?” or “I’ve never known a person do the Consortium as a 3L”. I firmly say, this has been one of the best experiences of my life and I could not have had a better finish to such a challenging journey over the last three years!
No letter can give my experience justice, but suffice it to say, I have met amazing friends, made great legal contacts and explored so many remarkable places. I could tell you all the Chief Justices I have met, the legal tours I have been on and what trips I took over my two week spring break, but the most rewarding thing that I take away from this experience, is being able to study law in a foreign country and applying this experience to my future success.
Studying Law of the European Union has been difficult, not just because the material is a bit dense, but because I am an American and I have had a hard enough time studying U.S. law for the last two years! British Legal Methods has been interesting we have a mini-pupilage, working with barristers, the advocates of the court, and we visit solicitor firms, and the Royal Courts of Justice. English Legal Systems has been bizarre because the professor loves to talk about his music band and all the famous people he has met, basically everything besides the course itself. Complex Litigation is just as it sounds, complex…good thing I had Professor Bauries because I am adequately prepared!
In all seriousness, the Consortium offers diversity of practice, people and cultures, something you cannot receive while studying law school in the U.S. and this is such a beneficial tool to acquire. It is important not just for those interested in international law, but for everyone studying law because you learn how to interact with people of different faiths and cultures. You build on your resources of strategy and efficiency since you are learning from a different lens. I would be remiss if I did not say the Consortium has been invaluable for me as a nontraditional law student. The Consortium has offered me greater opportunity, more than I would have ever imagined for myself, because it has pushed me beyond the limits that law school provides for someone not wanting to practice law. I have always had to create my own path and this experience has opened up so many forks that I’m not sure which path to take!
For all the 3Ls who didn’t participate in the Consortium, I’m sorry you missed this opportunity. For everyone else, you still have the chance and take it from me, do it as a 3L, because you will have the time of your life and you won’t have to go back to law school the following year wishing you were back in London again!
March 2, 2013
Greetings from London!
Studying abroad in London comes with its obvious perks – the ability to take my morning jog in Kensington Park and spend my lunch break exploring one of London’s 240+ museums and celebrate my Saturday with a day-trip to Paris. But as a student in the London Law Consortium, I also get the added benefit of spending my Mondays shadowing a barrister in court as part of the British Legal Methods externship course. While we may share with the British a common language and the concept of the common law, I was mistaken in assuming that meant we speak the same language and have the same legal system as the British. No one here uses the term “attorney.” Roughly speaking, litigators are called barristers, and transactional lawyers are called solicitors. A “pupilage” is the correct term for an externship. Last week when a security guard asked me what I was doing at the court, I told him I was there to meet my “pupil-master.” To my surprise, he knew exactly what I was talking about and sent me off in the right direction. Ten minutes later I asked where the bathroom was (what I thought was a simple request), and my barrister informed me there are no places to bathe in the court house. The thing to ask for is the “loo” she reminded me.
All the verbiage aside, the courtroom itself is truly a foreign place when your only frame of reference is American court houses. My first day in court, I was surprised to find the judge and all the lawyers (men and women included) wearing robes and white wigs. My fellow American class-mates and I couldn’t decide whether the glassed in seating in the back of the room was the public gallery or the jury box. Turns out, it was actually the hold for defendants. Luckily, we found out before attempting to waltz right in.
How will this experience matter when it comes to practicing law in the States? What does understanding a different legal system matter when I’m not likely to ever see the inside of a British courtroom again? One of the great benefits of understanding another culture is the ability to appreciate the strengths and the weaknesses of your own context. The same is true of experiencing a different rule of law. I’ve developed a new appreciation for America’s concept of a written constitution, ensuring that people’s positive rights are protected. The right to a jury trial has now been abolished for all civil matters and for most criminal offenses, and the right to remain silent has recently been replaced by a presumption against defendants who refuses to fully disclose to the police. But I also greatly respect the value placed by British advocates on compromise and respect for the court and their clients. Unlike in the States, both prosecution and defense share the same table seated before the judge. They also always treat one another and the judge with great formality and respect during the proceedings. They’re astonished to hear just how adversarial the U.S.’s version of the adversarial system is.
I am delighted that the University of Kentucky’s participation in this program allows me to have this unique experience while taking a full law school course load. My fellow classmates and I have also found it possible to fulfill our other extra-curricular obligations at home while we’re out of the country. Several students have been able to fully participate as members of a law journals and as research assistants for professors at their home schools. Consortium faculty have even helped me job hunt from here and sort out interviewing via Skype with potential summer employers.
As they say here,
Ally Logsdon '14
February 1, 2013
Hello from London!
My name is Ally Logsdon and I am currently a 2L. I am originally from Bowling Green, KY and am studying abroad through the London Law Consortium program. I’ve been in London since early January and the process of getting settled in has not been too tiresome or overwhelming. London is a beautiful, busy city that has sparked my adventurous side. The program has opened up a world of opportunity to become immersed in British culture and the English legal system. We’ve gone on group trips to the local law library, the US Embassy, and the various Inns of Court. A small group of my new friends I’ve made here went to Edinburgh, Scotland last weekend and had a great time taking in everything that beautiful city by the sea had to offer. This weekend, the program is taking us to Oxford to hear a lecture and explore the town. Next week we have a scheduled tour of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and Westminster. Later in the semester, we are going on a Legal London Tour and will be lucky enough to experience a formal dinner at the Inner Temple with our barristers.
Along with all of the trips we’ve taken and will be taking, I have been set up with a mini-pupilage with an English barrister. I get to travel around Great Britain with my barrister and shadow her in her practice of law. My barrister has been nice enough to let me sit in on client interviews and even see the robing rooms where the barristers prepare for court by putting on the traditional garb (their wig and robe). Although we are not able to do actual work for our barristers, the experience has still been quite valuable and has already afforded me a better understanding of the English legal system. I’ve been able to compare the system and procedures here with those of the United States, which has been incredibly interesting. I would highly recommend this program to other students, and almost feel a little guilty that I’ve been blessed with this wonderful experience while my friends are stuck back home in the states. Though I’ve only been in London for less than a month, I can already say this is an invaluable experience, not only for my future law career, but also for my life in general.