The “art of being critical” has helped Kent law student, and aspiring barrister, Queenet Awesu secure a £13k scholarship from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
Middle Temple is one of four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to Call their members to the Bar of England and Wales. The Inn’s Diana, Princess of Wales Scholarship, is given to candidates deemed specially deserving of financial assistance with interview criteria including an assessment of character and ability to overcome adversity.
The award will help fund the costs of the Bar Practice Course LLM that Queenet will study at the University of Law, on her path to becoming a barrister. She was also awarded the Blackstone Entrance Exhibition worth £230 which covers Middle Temple’s Admission and Call Fees.
Queenet’s scholarship interview was conducted virtually, via StarLeaf, with a panel comprising a barrister and two high court judges. The first question she answered was on human trafficking, a topic she had selected herself, inspired by her studies of modules in Critical and Legal Reasoning, and The Skills of Argument – How to argue and win. Queenet said: ‘These modules taught me the art of being critical which has helped me structure my arguments to be effective and efficient. The panel were quite impressed in how I put my arguments across and engaged well with the topic.’
She was also asked: whether she felt the government had been proportionate in lockdown; to describe a time where she had seen good or bad advocacy; and to identify the greatest obstacle she had faced in her path to becoming a barrister.
Queenet said her experience of being President of a Christian society called Salem Campus Fellowship during her studies at Kent helped give her the confidence and skills she needed for the interview: ‘I would deliver weekly sermons to the congregation. The experience of leading a Christian fellowship really came through in my interview as I was super confident and bold in my answers.’
Having always enjoyed speaking up on behalf of those less confident than herself, it was the experience of participating in mooting and mock trial workshops that confirmed Queenet’s ambition to become a barrister. She urges other students to take advantages of the opportunities to develop practical legal skills at Kent Law School: ‘If you’re sure you want to do it, put yourself out there. You’re the only person that can show off your skills, no one will know your potential until you put yourself out there.’
She also encourages fellow aspiring lawyers to speak to Jayne Instone, the Law School’s Employability and Career Development Officer: ‘She knows what she’s doing and wants to help. Get involved in things that showcase your skills and use it in your application to show how you’re putting your skills to work. What they are looking for is someone that is dedicated to the bar and your experience will testify your dedication.’
Law LLB student Queenet was one of a number of students Jayne had identified for a two-year Law Employability and Achievement Project (LEAP).
Jayne said: ‘LEAP was created, in collaboration with colleagues from the University’s Careers and Employability Service, for aspiring lawyers with good grades but little or no extra-curricular activity consistent with legal career development on their CVs. Opportunities available in preparing for a legal career are many but can be overwhelming to those lacking an informed support network. My aim with LEAP was to empower students so that they could take up the opportunities available to them.’
LEAP guaranteed access to a mentor in the legal profession. It also gave priority to participants for work experience placements, subject to acceptable applications (Queenet was able to take up a mini-pupillage, and marshalling experience). Other LEAP benefits included a careers action plan, workshops, unlimited one-to-one support with CVs and applications, and etiquette training.
Queenet, who hopes eventually to specialise in family law, says she’s still in awe of the news about winning the scholarship: ‘I just keep saying thank you God, thank you God. I wasn’t expecting to be awarded a major award. I feel privileged and grateful as the scholarship shows that they see my potential in becoming a barrister by investing in my education. I can proudly say I’m a Middle Temple scholar.’