Matthew Davies (née Dawkins) graduated from Kent in 2014 with an LLB in Law. He’s currently undertaking a training contract with law firm Ogier in Jersey.
What does your current role involve?
I started working for Ogier in 2016 as a paralegal in the Dispute Resolution team, and then started my training contract in September 2017. I will qualify as an English solicitor in March 2019. I spent the first six months of my training contract in the Investment Funds team, and I recently moved to the Corporate and Commercial team.
Offshore lawyers are a bit more generalist, and the work we do in my current team is extremely varied. For example, we work on the borrower side of financing transactions, debt listings on the International Stock Exchange, schemes of arrangement, winding up of companies, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.
How did your legal education at Kent Law School help prepare you for the role?
The legal system in Jersey is very different to the UK, which can make my job challenging, particularly where research tasks are involved. The skill of critical thinking, which a degree from KLS equips you with, is extremely useful in my job. Sometimes a situation can arise which has not been addressed in Jersey before, so you need to be able to think outside the box and find a way to justify a particular course of action.
Why did you choose to study Law at Kent?
At the time I made my choice, Kent Law School was a well-respected law school, and it is even more so now, and that was an important factor for me. I liked the campus environment, and thought that Canterbury was a beautiful city.
You’re a former President of Kent Law Temple Society. How did this help prepare you for the Bar Professional Training Course?
It helped me learn how to manage my time. Balancing the demands of my degree with the pressure of delivering great events for society members could be stressful, and it was really important not to get one thing done at the expense of the other.
The BPTC is all about time management – it’s a very intense course which moves quickly. By the time I started the course I was used to juggling several things at once, and this proved invaluable. Additionally, while I was President, KLTS ran a lot of workshops and events and this gave me lots of public speaking practice.
KLTS and the other law societies give students many great opportunities. You don’t need to be a member of a society committee to benefit – going to networking events and workshops helps a lot when you move on to your first job or a postgraduate course.
How important were your mooting experiences at Kent for developing practical legal skills?
I mooted several times, both in the internal mooting scheme and in a couple of external competitions. It’s always quite a nervous experience at first, but very good fun! Mooting is a very useful experience, even for those not interested in a legal career which involves oral advocacy. Mooting is about more than just standing up and making a legal argument. It is all about analysing a legal fact pattern, identifying issues, and understanding how the law applies.
A moot problem is almost always going to throw up an issue where the law is against you. You can’t just give up, or hope that the Moot Judge doesn’t notice. Instead you have to tackle the issue head on, critique the law and try and find a basis on which you can distinguish your case. If you can’t do that, or if the judge isn’t with you, then it also teaches you when to concede. All of this is very useful for working as a lawyer.
What were the highlights of your time at Kent?
One of the best things for me was meeting people from all over the world. You get to learn so much about different cultures when you are a student, which is fantastic. During my final year, each of my housemates was from a different country. I made friends with people from different places, such as Abu Dhabi and Canada. I also learned about myself while I was a student. I moved a relatively long way from home to go to Kent, which forced me to a new level of independence.
Would you recommend Kent Law School to prospective students?
Absolutely! There are lots of reasons to consider Kent. The Law Clinic, for example, offers students a unique opportunity to get involved in real-life cases and see how the law really works.
The academics at KLS are also extremely friendly and supportive. As a student at Kent, you get to know your lecturers and seminar leaders really well, and you get a strong sense that they are fully invested in helping you do the best you possibly can.
Finally, since I left Kent, KLS has moved to a new home, the Wigoder Law Building, which offers students superb teaching facilities.
What advice would you give to aspiring barristers/lawyers?
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your weaknesses or limits. None of us are perfect, and it would be a mistake to suggest that we are!