Practical legal skills
You can enhance your legal education at Kent Law School by developing practical legal skills. Opportunities exist through participation in a range of extra-curricular modules that include Mooting; Mediation; Negotiation; and Client Interviewing. If you choose to take any of these four extra-curricular modules, you will also have the opportunity to hone your skills in local, national and international competitions. There is also the option to take part in mock trials for police probationers, enabling you to learn more about the process of giving evidence. Further opportunities to apply your legal knowledge and gain legal skills exist within Kent Law Clinic where you can work on real cases, under the supervision of Clinic solicitors.
Law students Tomi Popoola and Sean Wells (pictured with Module Convenor Janie Clement-Walker) won the National Negotiation Competition in London in 2015.
Mooting involves arguing points of law in a simulated courtroom setting using hypothetical facts often based on a real case. It offers an excellent opportunity to apply legal knowledge and develop advocacy skills. Mooters work in teams of two to prepare their case either for the appellant or the respondent and to present their arguments to a bench of judges.
The intensive and wide-ranging mooting programme at Kent Law School offers opportunities to take part in national and international competitions. The Law School has entered teams in the OUP/BPP Moot, the English Speaking Union Moot, the Jessup International Law Moot, the Oxford French Law Moot, and the UK Student Law Association Moot. In November 2015, a team of Kent Law students secured a top ten finish in the 10th LAWASIA International Moot Competition held in Australia, coming sixth out of 19 teams. The Kent team was the only team from Europe represented in the competition.
An extra-curricular module in mooting is open to all second and third year students with a series of 'mini moots' run in conjunction with the Kent Law Temple Society for first year students. Mooting in the second and third year of the degree is judged by a panel comprised of members of the local judiciary, local practitioners, and academic staff. Students are given the opportunity to replace coursework assessments with their performance in a moot in certain subjects.
The current Director of Mooting is Per Laleng, a faculty member with extensive experience at the Bar. Additional and substantial input is provided by academic staff, practicing lawyers, members of the judiciary and Kent alumni.
Taking part in the National Student Law Society Moot was an absolutely invaluable experience. It demanded strong research skills as well as a willingness to engage in different areas of law which we had not previously encountered. Although it was a tough few months having to balance the competition along with university work, it was worth reaching the quarter finals! I would definitely compete in the NSLS Moot again if I had the chance.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that enables legal disputes to be resolved without the need to go to court.
You can choose to take an extra-curricular module in mediation at Kent Law School which includes opportunities to apply and develop mediation skills through participation in workshops and competitions.
Teams from Kent regularly compete at University level, through in-house competitions, and at a national level by taking part in the UK's National Mediation Competition. Successful teams have also gone on to compete in the annual International Mediation Competition. Teams from Kent have competed at an international level in Ireland (Dublin) and in the US (Chicago).
(You can watch Kent Law School student Farid Mammadov talk about his experiences of competing at the International Mediation Competition in Chicago in March 2014.)
I think the skills we learned are more than just necessary tactics or strategies to becoming a good lawyer, they are skills that will have an impact on any career and I think are vital to going far in life. Winning the competition is really exciting; I can't wait to compete against other universities to prove that Kent is a top tier law school that produces strategic and analytical students who do more than just quote cases and precedent. The fact that the module is not assessed already speaks volumes regarding the work we are willing to put in to be the best.
Negotiation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that enables legal disputes to be resolved without the need to go to court.
You can choose to take an extra-curricular 10-week Negotiation Module in the second and third year of your degree. You will develop the skills to take part in an internal negotiation competition and can choose to compete for the opportunity to participate in the South East Regional Heat of the National Negotiation Competition.
A team of two Kent students won the National Negotiation Competition in London in 2015. The team went on to represent England at the International Negotiation Competition held in Dublin in July 2015. As a consequence of their win in London, Kent has been given the honour of hosting the final of the National Negotiation Competition in July 2016.
The module teaches not only skills applicable to law and solutions outside of the court, but to life in general. Negotiation teaches that courts cost, and most disputes can be solved without the day in court. Once you learn this special way of developing solutions, it is a really interesting, useful concept which can be a model for all sorts of issues. I would recommend the module to anyone , it's fabulous and fun.
A six-week extra-curricular Client Interviewing Skills Module at Kent provides an introduction to the concept and process of interviewing clients. You develop interpersonal skills, which are essential for dealing with clients. Workshops prepare you for a simulated interview with a client and an internal competition. Teams from Kent also compete at a national level in the annual Client Interviewing Competition for England and Wales.
Competitions test law students on their interviewing and counselling skills and centres on a simulated law office interview. Law students work in teams of two to interview and advise a "client". Their management of the interview is judged according to the judging criteria eg establishing a good working relationship with the client, recognising and handling the legal problems, ethical and personal issues, including costs, and finally offering appropriate advice.
The Client Interviewing programme provides you with a unique opportunity to practice and develop many important skills that will be required of you later on in life as a lawyer (or in any job). I had the honour to represent the University at the Client Interviewing Competition for England and Wales in the national finals, which was an invaluable experience, the programme really teaches you the value of team work and perseverance whilst at the same time building your listening, communication and interpersonal skills. The module is a great opportunity to develop real practical skills and if I could do it all over again, I would!
Law students keen to test their advocacy skills in a courtroom setting are able to take part in Police Probationers' Mock Trials. An annual Advocacy Award is given by the Kent Branch Magistrates' Association to the best student advocate who participates in the trials.
Participating students perform the role of counsel for either prosecution or defence as an advocate and question probationary police officers before a bench of local magistrates. Some student advocates even succeed in getting cases against their defendants dismissed!
The mock trials offer an excellent insight into the practice of giving evidence in court and have been previously held at the Crown Court in Maidstone and at Dartford Magistrates Court.
Held throughout the year, mock trials are open to all second and third year students (stages 2 and 3).
Participating in the Police Mock trials in August 2014 has been truly enlightening and rewarding. I was able to develop skills in advocacy including examining and cross examining witnesses as well as making closing speeches. Exposure to the formal manner in which the bench goes about making its decision was invaluable. All in all a truly enriching experience second to none and I was pleased to be adjudged best advocate by the bench. All law students serious about practice should get involved!
Kent Law Clinic
Law students have the opportunity of working in the Kent Law Clinic. In the Law Clinic students have the full conduct of cases on behalf of clients - under the close supervision of qualified lawyers. They can deepen and broaden their knowledge of law through the experience of working on live cases and through a structured reflection on that legal practice.
Students can also develop specific legal skills. The casework requires them to undertake such tasks as interviewing, legal research, corresponding, drafting statements of case, negotiating and appearing as advocates before the Employment Tribunal, the County Court and other forums. Work carried out in the Law Clinic can count towards a student's final degree in law, and there are many ways that students can get involved.
Student participation takes place at a number of levels. There is in the Clinic a culture and atmosphere of enthusiastically engaged involvement with the practice of law, and with the legal issues that arises in the world beyond the university.
On my first day, I was asked to take a witness interview. A Clinic solicitor sat alongside me and asked supplementary questions, but I wrote the statement and the solicitor later sat down with me and discussed any necessary amendments. You can get to work on court cases or public inquiries. I was involved in an immigration tribunal and had to write a skeleton argument outlining our legal arguments so you are getting real experience.
Not only did I learn invaluable skills, but had the chance to demonstrate what I learnt whilst representing the university at the National Negotiation Competition Regional.