Experiences gained through mooting, mock trial advocacy and working at Kent Law Clinic were key to Erin McKee’s success in securing a Major Award from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
Erin, a final year Law LLB student, has been awarded the Jules Thorn Scholarship from Middle Temple, worth £12,750. This award will help Erin fund her Bar Practice Course studies at the University of Law* in London, from September 2021.
Middle Temple is one of four Inns of Court; the historic societies that educate and train barristers in England and Wales. At Middle Temple, scholarships are awarded on merit after taking into account the candidate’s intellectual ability, motivation to succeed at the Bar, advocacy potential and personal qualities. The amount of the award depends on the scholar’s financial circumstances.
Erin was interviewed by a panel of three at Middle Temple, including a QC, a Professor in Law and a leading criminal barrister. Erin said thhe questions she was asked were focused entirely on her application: ‘The first set of questions were about my interest in women’s rights in criminal law. In 2019, I had attended the appeal of Sally Challen at the Royal Courts of Justice with the then defence solicitor of the Kent Law Clinic. The panel asked me a series of questions regarding the appeal. These included: what the grounds of appeal were; who was the presiding judge; what was the name of counsel; what was the outcome of the case; and did this motivate my wish to pursue a career at the Bar?
‘I was then asked about my involvement in a case successfully challenging the judgment of CICA in the First Tier Tribunal with the Kent Law Clinic. The panel was particularly interested in this example, as it was for my help that I was awarded the Criminal Justice Project Prize 2018/2019, for the Best Contribution to the Kent Law Clinic.
‘The final set of questions were based on the area of law I had chosen: The Domestic Abuse Bill. After speaking about my agreement with the Bill codifying R v Brown  UKHL 19 to stop the so-called ‘Rough Sex Defence’, I was asked a challenging question: whether the codification of R v Brown would impact women’s agency and therefore, undermine women’s rights? This question surprised me. However, drawing on my mooting experience I was able to confidently stand by my position and persuade the panel that this was a necessity, impacting the minority to protect the majority.’
Erin was actively involved with Kent Law Clinic, mooting and mock trial advocacy during her studies at Kent. She said: ‘Throughout my interview, I found myself drawing on experiences from all of these opportunities. I credit these extra-curricular activities not only in helping me to secure scholarship but in helping me get through to the second round of pupillage interview as well.
Erin says she’s owes thanks to the Law School’s Director of Lawyering Skills, Darren Weir and Employability Manager, Jayne Instone, for their help through the application process: ‘Without the help of the staff at the university, I would not have been half as prepared for the questions I received.’
Erin’s interest in law – and particularly crime – was sparked by visits to Lewes Crown Court during breaks from college. It wasn’t until her first year of university that Erin decided she wanted to be a barrister. Erin said: ‘This was influenced through my work experience with West Midlands CPS and the appeal of Sally Challen. As a result of my work experience and the Law of Evidence module, I am interested in pursuing crime.’
In her future career as a barrister, Erin hopes to be able to pursue her interest in women’s rights, especially in criminal law.
Finally, we asked Erin to share her advice for fellow aspiring barristers: ‘Advice I would give to aspiring barristers is to get involved and never give up! The Law School offers amazing extra-curricular activities that not only give experience, but fundamental skills to have in preparation for the Bar. Immerse yourself with these opportunities as they will give you the confidence to shine in interview.’
*Erin has also been awarded an Advocacy Scholarship from the University of Law for £2,000