Kent law student Leah Arthur has been awarded a scholarship from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple which she hopes will help her realise her ambition to become a barrister and combat international power imbalances for developing states.
Leah, a final-year Law LLB student, has been awarded a Benefactors’ Scholarship together with a Blackstone Entrance Exhibition which will help fund the cost of the Bar Vocational Studies, with integrated LLM, that she’ll begin at City, University of London in September.
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. A number of Entrance Exhibitions are also awarded annually; each Exhibition covers the Admission and Call Fees (currently £230).
Leah was interviewed by three barristers (including one of the Masters of the Bench – or Benchers – who are responsible for the governance of the Inn). Leah said: ‘They were all friendly which made me feel comfortable and the interview process much easier. They generally asked clarification questions based on information provided in my application.’
Leah had included a visit to a Magistrate’s Court in Barbados on her application. She said: ‘With this in mind, they asked me what I learned from this experience. Additionally, given the current political climate, they asked me a question related to my views on the right to protest.’
Leah was able to make use of her public speaking skills during her interview, skills she had strengthened at Kent Law School by taking an extra-curricular module in Mooting and through participating in speed moots and a criminal law moot. These opportunities also enabled her to become familiar with the formalities of the court room.
She also credits the support of her teachers. She said: ‘Dr Rose Parfitt, Dr Luis Eslava, Professor Maria Drakopoulou and Dr Mohammad Afshary have been instrumental in providing assistance throughout my degree and application process. Special mention must also be made of Student Support Manager Hattie Peacocke who was always there to offer encouragement this academic year.’
Leah’s passion for justice influenced her decision to become a barrister. She said: ‘I have always been passionate about justice and ensuring that those in difficult situations have the representation and legal backing they deserve to bring about favourable outcomes. The fulfilment of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves is something I constantly strive for. Training as a barrister will allow me to turn this feeling into a career.’
Leah has a particular interest in international law, a field in which she hopes to specialise. During her studies, she took modules in Law and International Development, International Humanitarian Law, and International Economic Law. She said: ‘These modules were pivotal in solidifying my interests in international law through the critical, socio-legal approaches they employed. International law encompasses my interests in human rights, trade, and humanitarian law. Additionally, given my background as a Barbadian, I have always been passionate and aim to make strides towards the goal of Caribbean integration, especially as it relates to promoting economic development and the acknowledgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the court of last resort. This longing to elevate my region is also the foundation of my desire to understand the relationship between international law and developing states. On a broader scale, I hope to work towards combatting the power imbalances that arise for developing states within the international sphere to ensure that the voices of these generally overlooked countries are heard and justice is administered in their favour.’
Finally, we asked Leah to share her advice for fellow aspiring barristers. She said: ‘Make sure that you build a strong support system. This achievement, and every other achievement I have accomplished would not have been possible without the motivation and assistance I received from my family, friends and teachers. The journey to becoming a barrister is extremely strenuous and I have encountered numerous obstacles thus far. However, it is their consistent encouragement that has driven me to remain focused on and attain my goals.’