The First Week of Teaching on the Diploma in Legal Practice
What a fantastic start to the week.175 excited ‘new lawyers’ made their way to the Sir Alexander Stone building in Glasgow University to embark on the final step of the journey at University and what will soon become the bridge between academic study and the profession.
I was eager as usual and delighted to meet a range of students from young Glasgow University Graduates to Mature students from other Universities.
The first week has been quite intense but enjoyable with a plethora of wonderful and respected speakers and events.
My blog outlines some of the highs and lows of the first week.
It is a brand new course and somewhat different from the traditional Diploma in legal practice taught at other Law schools.
We were told early on in the week that we would be forever known as ‘class of 2011’ and I am delighted to be so. With every new venture there always comes teething problems and our course is no exception. I am delighted to report however that the only difficulties so far have been matters of housekeeping and not teaching which by all accounts has been outstanding and if it is a measure of the year ahead I reckon will set us in good stead for practice.
Our first week has been visited by eminent figures of the legal profession such as George Moore QC who lectured us on Negotiation .
Later in the week his son Steven Moore known to many as @casecheck on twitter later spoke to us about the involvement of Diploma students in his company.
A host of Legal professionals discussed the aims and objectives of the course and we all struggled to carry around the amount of course materials (300,000) pages or so were printed for the Diploma this year.
The first day ended with a lecture and tutorial in Civil Litigation with the evening being brought to an end at 7.00 pm. I tweeted on my way home only to to be quickly reminded (by an un-named fellow tweeter and practising solicitor) that ‘that’s what it IS like in private practice’
On day two I was surprised to be voted as Class representative and found myself in front of the whole class of 175 with 15 of my fellow class reps being asked to give a speech about why I should be voted as Law School Representative.
Now, I was not prepared for this but I delivered a good enough speech to be voted as Law school representative and then asked to talk about my experiences of ‘Mooting’. I am an experienced and winning ‘Mooter’ and found this to be a very easy task conveying my enthusiasm for such a pleasurable pastime.
I am glad I did as I have since had 6 people approach me to ask to be my ‘mooting partner’ this year for the Dean’s Cup.
My former mooting partner Kelly Duling LLB a Glasgow Graduate who has just completed her traineeship with the Procurator Fiscal and I will also be competing in an International moot this year and a couple of competitions on Client Counselling and Negotiations organised through @MacRovberts.
Finalists of the Client Counselling competition and Negotiations competitions will travel to Maastricht and Copenhagen to compete from the title later in the year.
Bruce Ritchie from the Law Society of Scotland joined us to convey the ethical nature of our study in relation to practice.
One of the highlights for me was our first lecture in Criminal Litigation from Sheriff Principle Alfred Vannet who delivered an outstanding lecture which captured my attention throughout and re-enforced my passion for criminal law.
In fact after considering this week I can honestly say that all of the speakers have done exactly this.
Deborah Clapham made Conveyancing feel like a wonderfully exciting subject and I thoroughly enjoyed the tutorial too and I loved every minute of the criminal tutorial although it seem a bit unfair to ask me (having worked at a road traffic law specialist firm of solicitors for a year to answer questions relating to which court a case for dangerous driving would be likely to be heard in). Graham Walker will of course be delighted to hear that I got all of the answers correct.
Thursday marked the official launch of the new Diploma in Legal Practice and a day in the Bute Hall was very professional and enjoyed by all. We heard from the Principle of Glasgow University Anton Mustcatelli and Sheriff Principle James Taylor, we had a fantastic talk by Lesley Thomson Procurator Fiscal for Glasgow , from Jim Wallace The Advocate General for Scotland and Lord Tyre.
By Friday we were all emerged in producing our first piece of course work which had to be handed in by 4 pm and enjoyed advice from Heather McPhee of the Law Society of Scotland a course in Private Client including the joys of Inheritance Tax and another lecture in drafting of a writ in civil litigation.
The day concluded with some inspring talks by two trainees at McGrigors and a timetable of events organised by the School of law to assist Graduates in obtaining transferable skills necessary for the ‘real world’ of law.
All in all the week was fantastic and as usual I networked as much as I could. Not being a shy and retiring creature I found it a delight to be able to ask questions of legal professionals not normally available to me.
The biggest down side of the week however was the heating in the lecture theatre which was not working properly and left many sitting with coats and scarf for warmth.
First piece of course work done, blog up dtaed , reading materials sorted for the week end I now head off home.There is no September Weekend off for us and Classes resume on Monday again till 7pm.
My opinion: Well done Glasgow and roll on the next 21 weeks.
Every day I get closer to joining the Faculty of Advocates – follow my journey.
Michelle Hynes-McIlroy LLB (Hons)