Law Clinic proves a big draw for Norwegian student at Kent

Norwegian undergraduate Rikke Sletten is studying on the University’s International Legal Studies with a Year Abroad LLB (Hons) degree.

Hailing from the city of Bergen, she was attracted to Kent Law School because of its reputation for academic excellence, coupled with a practical approach to law that places the subject firmly in a wider societal context.

One feature of this ‘hands-on’ approach is the opportunity for students to observe real legal cases being handled by the University’s Kent Law Clinic, which provides Pro Bono legal advice and support to members of the public.

Rikke, aged 19 and just starting the second year of her course, is a regular volunteer at the law clinic, housed in the impressive new Wigoder Law Building at the Canterbury campus.

Q: How did the opportunity to work with the Kent Law Clinic influence your decision to come to the University of Kent?
A: Studying law is something that I have been wanting to do for a while before I came here to the University of Kent and my decision to come here was influenced by the ratings, location and the general appraisal of the Kent Law School. There was, however, another factor in which influenced my decision to study at the University of Kent and that was the Kent Law Clinic. I read about the many achievements of the clinic and the influence it has on the community and understood then that it was something which I wanted to be a part of. I was aware that being part of the Clinic would give me insight into the legal profession and allow me to further develop my understanding of law as a subject beyond the confines of a seminar room or lecture theatre, which I can now say that it has.

Q: How much time do you spend working at the Clinic and what do you do there?
A: The number of hours I spend in the Clinic depends on the week, if there is a project or event coming up I will naturally be spending more time in the Clinic. I would say that on average I spend two to three hours working in the Clinic. What I really enjoy about the Clinic is that there is always, something to do and there are several different options readily available for all the law students. Last year, I was part of the Clinic’s Student Committee, which means that I collaborated with students, solicitors and staff to host events. Furthermore, I have worked on cases with solicitors and gone to advice sessions which include participating in client meetings. I have also been a receptionist for the Clinic, which means that I was a first point of contact for clients. There are several things to do in the Clinic and I highly recommend that law students take this opportunity.

Q: Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you are looking forward to?
A: Personally, I have not gone to a court hearing yet, which is something that I am determined to do this year. I have been part of the pre-court stages of different cases, however, last year it never matched my schedule to go to court with one of the solicitors. I would really like to go to court as I have never been before, and I am sure that it will give me insight into the works of the different parties and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the law.

Q: How does contact with Clinic clients and involvement in cases add to your skill-set?
A: Being part of the Clinic has without a doubt added to my skill-set. For example, being a receptionist and working on several cases has allowed me to further my effective communicating skills and listening skills. These skills are highly important to a lawyer as one needs to be able to effectively communicate their stance whether that be in court or you are explaining certain details to your client. Furthermore, lawyers are there to represent their clients therefore, it is important that they truly understand their concerns and carefully listen to the several claims and evidence being brought forth in court. While being part of the Clinic you not only learn from observing the solicitors’ behaviour but also further develop your skill set through your interactions with clients and others. Moreover, students get crucial insight into research skills, report writing, note taking and so much more. The Clinic provides students with transferable skills, which are helpful whether you decide to pursue a career in law or not.

Q: How important do you think it is generally for a Kent Law School student to see the law in operation at first hand?
A: I think it is highly important and influential for their future career that students take part in the Clinic and get a better understanding of how law operates first hand. There is only so much learning and understanding that you can get from your textbooks and sometimes ‘learning by doing’ proves to be not only highly rewarding but also provides further insight. This is especially true if students are planning to continue their career within law, they then have the possibility here of learning from the opportunities that are readily available to them.

Q: How would you sum up your experience so far of being a student at the University of Kent?
A: My experience as a student of the University of Kent has been truly remarkable and I am grateful for the experiences that I have had here, and I look forward to more to come. Not only is the campus itself beautiful, I am also taught by highly knowledgeable and experienced academics. The university has allowed me to further develop several skills of mine through the Kent Law Clinic and through the different opportunities hosted by university departments and student societies. Something in which I am appreciative of regarding the university is the plethora of opportunities and events that ensure that my time here never gets boring. The different departments and societies hold talks and events hosted by different individuals, which gives one insight into different professions, experience and expertise. My experience here at the University has been highly influential, not only because of the high academic level at the Kent Law School, but also because it allows me to develop outside of the classroom.