Looking back at the Diary of a Diploma Student – Is Legal Learning like Childbirth ?

Diary of a Diploma Student – The Countdown
The ‘Eagles’ Den

Its Week 7 on the Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow and as this week began on 21st February 2011 change is in the air. Glasgow has become brighter again. Snowdrops are in bloom and tiny buds are flourishing, no I don’t mean flowers (I mean the newbie lawyers being moulded on the Diploma).
There is a definite rise in morale this week and confidence is blooming.

When I started on the course in September I looked around a room of 175 Law Graduates and saw young, shy and very worried law students yet now when I look around I see confident, focussed and sharp new lawyers.

Wow – the transformation has been amazing.

As I sat in my Advanced Criminal Litigation class watching my peers presenting I smiled and thought how proud I am at having travelled this path of learning with such a wonderful bunch of new lawyers. I also thought , Gosh these guys will be with me in court and some of them will be my legal adversaries – I better watch out.

For the legal profession I would just like to say that the Glasgow diploma students are ‘focussed’ ‘commercially aware’ and READY FOR ACTION.
The work load on the Diploma has been high so far and whilst we only have 4 weeks of teaching left there is no reduction in the amount of work require , in fact we have even more than before with course work and exams to complete before we finish. There is a final ‘push’ required by all.

The week kicked off in Civil litigation with a brilliant Lecture by Mark Ralston of Wright & Crawford on Conducting a proof. We discussed examination in chief in great detail looking at Structured questions, simple language, 1 question at a time and we looked at the structure of evidence and the cardinal rule ; If you don’t plead it you can lead evidence on it. Mark recommended we read ‘The Devil’s Advoate’ by Ian Morley (sweet & Maxwell)

In the tutorial group led by Michael Heaney I enjoyed practising examining my witness and taking him through my questions, I was first in the class to do this and I really enjoyed it. After I had led evidence my witness was cross-examined by a fellow student and we all had an opportunity to offer suggestions and tips for us all to learn. The practical exercises on the Diploma are great.

There are three ways people learn , audio by listening, visual by watching and kinesthetic by doing and these exercises help us to learn more effectively.

We have an assessed piece of work in Advanced Civil litigation due for next week and we are required to draft a note in the line of evidence and draft submissions. We will hand in written work and present our submissions orally.

In advanced Criminal litigation our focus has now moved to Appeals and Michael Meehan delivered a great lecture on the Appeals procedure on appeals on conviction and or sentence.

We looked very closely at the steps required and the time scales involved in Appeals and we focussed on the methods of Appealing and how to make sure we reply during the adjustments period. Michael led us through all of the steps from application , granting of leave to appeal and through to instructing Edinburgh agents and obtaining 4 copies of papers.

We looked at this subject even closer in tutorial groups as My tutor criminal defense lawyer Peter gilletley took us through an appeal and we considered a case and case papers relating to a drugs charge. It was an open discussion in class and Peter offered us fantastic tips and ideas for drafting our own stated case for next week.

I really enjoyed the Appeals procedure as I have attended at the High Court in justiciary with Andrew Brown QC and Claire Mitchell advocate for several Appeals whilst working at www.roadtrafficlaw.com. I and this part of our course helps me focus more on the procedure this weekend I am drafting a Stated case and formulating my arguments for my Appeal. I am really lucky to have seen these types of appeals argued out in the High court.

After a focus on litigation all week the BEFPA ( Business ethics and Finance) class switched our minds from court and advocacy skills to the detail of financial accounting and Solicitors Financial Activity.

Whilst I always work very hard to prepare for my classes I struggled to prepare for this one as the Diploma is in its first year and It appears part of the course is a bit undefined.

We were only given an outline of the class two days before and even then told to read over 130 pages of notes.

This was not only a problem for the Diplomates but for the tutors too.

Never the less my class with @Brianinkster was great as always as we cherry picked our way through the undefined territory and focussed on the tasks set looking at Income Tax , Tax planning , types of Finance.

presented with a scenarios My group offered a tax saving to our hypothetical client of over 2k more than the one offered as a model answer set on the course. (smarty pants are us)

My favourite elective and class this week was my Corporate class. The Corporate group is now looking at Private Equity and equity Finance and investment. Looking closely at Business Angels and Venture Capital investors in Private companies we considered in detail the steps involved in funding . We looked at confidentiality agreements, exclusivity agreements, warranties, good leavers and bad leavers Heads of terms, Exit provisions, Due diligence, business start-ups, Management Buy outs.

In class we set up a ‘Dragons’s Den type’ panel; and negotiated the terms of investment with our investors. Looking closely at the terms contained within the agreement we successfully negotiated amendments. It was great fun and I enjoyed playing the part of the investor and the company looking for investment. It was like a ‘Eagles Den’.

Every week after my corporate class I leave thinking ‘maybe I should become a Corporate lawyer’ .

It was a great week this week despite a bit of confusion around course work for BEFPA which I am sure will be sorted out for next year.

With only 4 weeks to go It feels a bit like ‘giving birth ‘ the long hard slog has past and now the intense pain begins hopefully it will be like child-birth a pain that is very quickly forgotten.Thankyou for following my Diary of a Diploma Student.
Please feel free to add a comment.

Michelle Hynes LL.B. (Hons)

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