Second-year Law LLB student Lucy Owens reflects on her experience of attending court with Kent Law Clinic Solicitor Vivien Gambling
I had the brilliant opportunity to accompany Vivien Gambling, one of the solicitors at the Kent Law Clinic, to a case management hearing at the Canterbury County Court in August.
I have to admit, initially I did not know what to expect, since I have never assisted a solicitor before nor gone with them to court. However, it was immediately apparent that the experience was going to be far more enriching than I could have ever hoped for. I was briefed on the case and given the solicitor’s note to read, which gave me a much better understanding regarding the case and what needs to be included in such a note (for the court) when and if I ever need to write one in my own career.
Watching Vivien interact with the clients was nothing short of invaluable. Witnessing a professional and learning how to interact with clients in a way that makes them feel relaxed and reassured is experience everyone entering the legal profession should have. We waited with the clients for quite a while before actually entering court so there was a lot of time to answer their questions and resolve any outstanding issues they had. I made sure to pay close attention to the primary issues Vivien would be addressing in court and what she thought the outcome was likely to be on these various issues and the reasons for this. I was given a notebook to take notes of the day and I probably actually ended up writing far too much. There were so many interesting details in an area of law I have not previously come across or studied so I was learning something every minute I was there.
In the small courtroom I sat at the back as an observer, there to listen to what was being said and who said it and make notes that could be looked back on later. I learned the importance of paying attention to who is saying what in addition to just what is being said, since this can be of great importance later on. The approach of the judge was an interesting one and it made me think about the reasons they had for making these decisions, which is very different from simply reading judgments off a piece of paper. It felt less clinical than judgments sometimes read, and the judge seemed to appreciate that the claimants were young people and the situation involved a family, recognising that it needed a delicate approach. Furthermore, she definitely sought to understand the wider situation at hand rather than just the legal issues at hand.
I was then given the opportunity to read further material on the case as well as write up my notes from the day, another unexpected experience that has provided me with so much insight into the day to day life of working in the legal sector. I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and am excited to get further involved with the Law Clinic this upcoming academic year. This day has only confirmed to me the enjoyment I get from being involved in the legal profession and has made me excited for my working future after university in a way that no other experience prior to this has done. I would thoroughly recommend all students who can undertake similar experiences whenever the opportunity arises.