Careers in Law - BFUWI Legal Workshop Sat 27 June 2015
On Saturday 27 Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, to which every barrister must belong, kindly sponsored a workshop entitled ‘Careers in law: options and opportunities’ for students from the diaspora as well as those from other minority and/or disadvantaged backgrounds. Organised by trustee, Susan Belgrave, who is herself a practising barrister and member of Inner Temple, the event was designed to showcase the wealth of talent which exists in the legal community. With 18 speakers, 15 of Caribbean heritage the event provided an opportunity for students to look at those who were forging legal careers in different or unusual areas which young people might not have previously considered.
BFUWI welcomed over 180 students between ages of 14 and 18, parents and teachers to the event which was oversubscribed. In her opening remarks Susan pointed out that coming from a modest or minority ethnic background was not a barrier to success and cited Sir Hugh Wooding who rose from humble beginnings to become the first Chief Justice of independent Trinidad and Tobago whose name now graces the school of law at St Augustine Campus. She also pointed out that the four sessions of the day were all being chaired by female UWI graduates who worked in London: Penny Carballo-Smith, Director of Future Think, Rosemarie Cadogan who worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Desiree Artesi, a barrister in private practice and Master at Inner Temple as well as herself. The UWI can be a viable option for those wishing to study law at undergraduate or postgraduate level.
The first session covered skills and qualifications which were needed to become a lawyer as well as routes to entry to become a solicitor, barrister or legal executive and included practising lawyers as well as academics Colin Bobb-Semple and Snigdha Nag from City University. The second session focused on life in private practice where barristers and a solicitor spoke about the commercial realities of private practice. The third session saw speakers address other options of working in house: whether in the public sector or in a large organisation. The final session discussed the future of the profession and the skills and areas of growth in law. Students were encouraged to look to other Commonwealth jurisdictions as possible sources of work and to prepare themselves for the digital age and new technologies.
There were a number of highlights to the day’s events but many students were encouraged and inspired to hear, among many others, Richard Wilson Q.C (a commercial silk) and Dr Leslie Thomas Q.C (who recently represented the Shepherd family whose children died on holiday in a villa due to carbon monoxide poisoning) speak of how their career developed. Attendees were surprised and delighted to see Courtenay Griffiths Q.C. (criminal silk involved in Damilola Taylor case) join the last session of the day.
Students spoke of being very inspired by the day’s activities. BFUWI and Craig Robinson. Director of the Ultimate Law Guide, donated two prizes for the quiz. Students were asked to reply in no more than two sentences to the following question: what do you think is the most important legal issue today. 17 year old, Rebekah Evans won the quiz with the response: ‘undoubtedly human rights because by unlocking fundamental entitlements which underpin every element of life we will ultimately strive and achieve justice for all.’ She remarked that it was a day she would always remember.
BFUWI hope to hold other similar events covering different areas of academic study in the future. Inner Temple have invited them to hold another similar event next year.
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