By first-year Kent Law LLB student Hope Turner
First and foremost, I would like to say congratulations to everyone that has finished their exams. If someone had told me that my first year of university would have ended at home, doing my exams in my bedroom, due to a pandemic I would have laughed! Nevertheless, here we are and despite it all I trust that everyone has done the very best that they can.
As I finished my exams I was faced with the question ‘Now what?’ We spend all year chasing deadlines and yet are now faced with essentially four months of free time. As a result, I and many others took it upon ourselves to see what could be done to improve and develop our understanding of law. With the help of my new-found interest in LinkedIn, I came across Inside Sherpa and their virtual schemes. While not exclusively law there are plenty of virtual legal experience programs. These range from white-collar defence, global investigations, and human rights law. All of which are endorsed by various firms such as Latham & Watkins, White & Case, Pinsent Masons, Linklaters and more.
The first experience I took part in was the White & Case global virtual experience. This involved global relations and finance law and consisted of four tasks ranging from project finance to litigation and arbitration. The first task consisted of preparing a transaction structure chart for the supporting team on the case. Without spoiling it for anyone who wishes to attempt the task, the background regarded a government project set up in Ethiopia with international lenders as your client. This was an eye-opening experience as I have not experienced law in a business sense and it gave me a chance to develop my commercial awareness.
The second task required research on counterparty credit risk, which I then needed to relay in a filmed presentation. The resources were provided so it really came down to developing the ability to extract information from a source. Being real-world data, this was a great opportunity to develop commercial awareness and understand how different factors impact corporate deals. The second part of this task was relaying the information in a presentation. Despite being slightly awkward at first, having to record yourself presenting, it made me hyper-aware of how I deliver information. This came down to my body language as well as the comprehension of my speech. In doing so, the virtual scheme allowed me to reflect and improve upon my presentation skills, something I would never have thought possible given the confined nature of the current situation.
The penultimate task was far more complex and was split into two sub-tasks. These included preparing the board resolution, and secondly, drafting a summary prospectus. Both of these tasks were somewhat daunting, as I had never come across tasks like this before. Being online, it was harder to find guidance. However there is a message function where you can ask questions. Regardless of how hard I found the task, I persisted and completed it. But it doesn’t end like this. After each task, the firm provided a model answer which you can compare to your own. Therefore, any mistakes I had made I was able to write a commentary on and resubmit a new file. This was incredibly helpful as it gave me the opportunity to reflect on misunderstandings and improve upon them.
The last task revolved very much around the ability to present information in a comprehensive way. My time in the University’s Law Clinic has taught me that, while it’s good to know the legalities inside out, there’s no use reciting the textbook to someone who doesn’t understand it. Therefore, as lawyers, we are required to learn how to present and relay information in a way that’s insightful and comprehensive. In addition, it was the first time I was able to go into detail about the pros and cons of arbitration in comparison to litigation, something which I know will benefit me later in my studies at Kent. This task was by far my favourite. No resources were given so it involved independent research and a standard commercial awareness of how different disputes affect a business.
Ultimately, the experience meant that I was able to use my knowledge in a practical sense, something which is simply not available in the lecture hall. As a result, I cannot recommend enough trying out at least one of these experiences.
I won’t suggest that I know exactly what my future plans are yet – in fact I’m not even sure what sector I want to go into, whether it be corporate, human rights or even family law. All I do know is that I have been extremely lucky with the opportunities now available to us all. These experiences allow you to try out different sectors and test which ones you enjoy. Law is not just what we are taught in lectures or read in our textbooks, law is in every corporate bid and every global decision. As the lawyers of tomorrow it would be a missed opportunity to not get involved in these virtual experiences, especially with the given climate.