COVID Hero Award for Darren Weir!

The award was presented by Kent Law Society in recognition of Darren's work on the Law School's Lawyering Skills Programme

Kent Law School Director of Lawyering Skills Darren Weir has been honoured with a ‘COVID Hero Award’ by Kent Law Society.

The honour was one of a number awards made by Kent Law Society in recognition of legal professionals across the county “who have gone above and beyond over the last 12 months”. Award winners were announced by Stephanie Boyce, President of The Law Society, at an online ceremony held on Friday evening.

Darren was recognised for his work in directing our innovative Lawyering Skills Programme at Kent. He said: ‘This programme, which had to largely move virtually, would not have been possible without the help and assistance of the very many legal practitioners and judges (too many to mention). Thank you to them and thank you to the hundreds of students who have been coping with all their studies this year and taking part in the programme. What a great evening arranged by Alexandra Gordon TEP CTA and her team and sponsors. So many worthy winners.’

Under Darren’s direction, capacity across all our co-curricular modules in the Lawyering Skills Programme at Kent Law School was increased and a new module created. As a result, approximately 400 law students have been able to develop their practical legal skills through their participation in the Programme.

Darren Weir was called to the Bar in 1998. For 12 years he specialised in criminal and regulatory law and practised from Stour Chambers in Canterbury following his London pupillage. Darren prosecuted and defended an array of offences from motoring to murder and appeared in all level of court including the Court of Appeal. He was the ‘go to’ local counsel for the Crown Prosecution Service at the time in cases of fraud and sexual offences. He was formally a member of the Criminal Bar Association and is a member of Middle Temple. Having previously been a pupil supervisor, he is undertaking further training to train pupil barristers in advocacy.

Kent Law Society is one of the longest running Law Societies in the country (older than The Law Society) and exists to promote the interests of the legal profession in Kent. This year’s Kent Law Society President is Law School alumna Alexandra Gordon.

The Lawyering Skills Programme at Kent Law School in 2020/21

This year’s Lawyering Skills Programme comprised five key elements: Mooting; Mock Trial Advocacy; Legal Argument & Oral Communication Skills (Debating); Client Interviewing; and Mediation and Negotiation.

Mooting:

  • The Mooting Module comprised three one-hour mooting workshops with training in: oratory skills; use of CaseLines (a digital system for sharing evidence for case preparation and courtroom presentation); writing skeleton arguments; and speed mooting. (Due to the pandemic, the last session, a speed moot event, was also duplicated online so that students who were shielding could also practice their mooting style)
  • A series of 19 moots took place in the Spring term via Zoom before a panel of legal practitioners, judges and academics, with all students invited to attend and watch
  • Kent mooters also competed in external moot competitions. Highlights included: reaching the Semi-Finals in the 5 Paper Building Moot, The Landmark (JR) Moot, the 2019/20 ESU Moot and the 36 Group Advocacy Competition; entering the National Speed Moot Winter Cup, the Inner Temple Moot Intervarsity Competition, The Landmark (Property) Moot, the OUP Moot, ESU 2020/21 Moot, Children’s Rights Moot, and Southampton Intervarsity Moot
  • The annual Boys & Maughan Civil Advocacy Competition was held online this year. The competition, which included a training event plus two heats, was won in March by Elliot Simmonds

Mock Trial Advocacy:

  • The Mock Trial Advocacy module comprised seven two-hour workshops on campus and training in all aspects of Crown Court Advocacy
  • Training was conducted by the Director of Lawyering Skills with the assistance of visiting legal practitioners
  • A series of 13 Mock Trials (including two assessed) were held online via Zoom. Approximately 80 students took advantage of the invitation to become jury members. Legal practitioners and students played the parts of witnesses and Judges
  • Switching the trials online (in response to lockdown), enabled more legal practitioners, judges and magistrates to get involved

Legal Argument & Oral Communication Skills (Debating):

  • A new module created (as a one-off) to help more than 100 Stage 2/3 law students (not just aspiring lawyers) develop public speaking skills
  • The module comprised a series of four one-hour workshops covering teamwork, public speaking skills, breathing techniques, the art of oratory and the framing of debate skills, as well as a mini-debate
  • Workshops took place in person in the Autumn term and culminated in a series of ‘Critical Debates in Law’ in the Spring term
  • All students were invited to attend and watch the debates. Topics included: EU Law, Family Law, Company Law, Intellectual Property Law, Contract Law and Data Protection and Privacy.

Client Interviewing:

Mediation & Negotiation:

  • Professor Bernard Richmond QC (QC at Lamb Building) was invited to design a module combining both mediation and negotiation
  • Originally designed to be offered both online (for those who wanted it) and in person (for those who wanted it), the programme was moved online in response to the third lockdown
  • The module comprised two four-hour online workshops and students were required to submit a 1200-word reflection piece to pass the programme.

Looking ahead…

Looking ahead, there are plans to expand the Lawyering Skills Programme at Kent Law School even further once back on campus. Watch this space for news of more exciting opportunities for law students at Kent in 2022!


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