Aspiring barrister Emily Jennett has just completed the final year of her Law LLB degree at Kent. She’s secured a Master’s Excellence Scholarship from Cardiff University and will begin a Bar Training Course (BTC) in September.
Can you tell us what attracted you to study your Law LLB degree at Kent?
Kent was actually my insurance choice, with Birmingham as my firm choice. However, once I realised I was going to Kent and I did some more research I really fell in love with the idea of being at a campus university, and the fact that Kent Law School actually ranks above Birmingham was a huge bonus!
You’re just about to graduate – what have been the highlights of your course?
I’ve had a fair few highlights to be honest! I’ve particularly enjoyed being a part of the Kent Student Law Society this year (I was a law dinner co-ordinator) as I felt more connected to the people on my course. As well as this, a particular highlight would have to be the Law dinner in my first year (2019) where, after a seating arrangement mishap from the previous committee, I ended up sitting next to Geoffrey Nice QC for the evening! Finally, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the advocacy opportunities I’ve been given throughout my three years, particularly the moots I’ve taken part in!
Did your course live up to your expectations?
It absolutely has! Of course the last 18 months have been strange given the current pandemic, but I’ve felt that I’ve received excellent support from the teaching staff, and though I’d love to be back in a lecture hall with all my friends again I’ve been amazed by how well the Law School has coped.
This was a hard decision so I’m going to have to list a few, but Criminal Law of course (I’ve applied to the Civil Service and am currently waiting to hear whether I’ve made it through to the final round of interviews!), as well as Gender, Sexuality and Law, and Family Law. I find that I understand law better when I have a deeper understanding of why people do things or what societal factors have influenced the creation of laws and so anything theoretical is right up my street!
What impressed you most about our academic staff?
What has impressed me the most about the staff has been their dedication to continuing teaching to the best of their abilities during the pandemic. I would particularly like to shout out Darren Weir for his debating workshops, Dr Flora Renz for her Gender, Sexuality and Law module, Professor Rosemary Hunter for being my dissertation supervisor and Professor Helen Carr as my academic advisor. This is not to say that other staff haven’t worked as hard of course, these are just four people who’ve really helped me within the last few months! Darren’s workshops helped me to vastly improve my oral communication and legal argument skills (which I hope will translate for my advocacy modules next year), Flora’s module has been extremely interesting to me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and helped me to remain engaged when the slog of various lockdowns has made me want to give up, and Helen and Rosemary to me have been the “good cop, bad cop” who’ve kept me to account throughout the past year, and my work would have been nowhere near as good without them!
What opportunities (in addition to your academic studies) have you taken advantage of during your time at Kent?
Outside of my studies I have made the most of my time at Kent by getting involved in Kent Pole Fitness society (I actually had a broken hand when I started my first year and I still went along!). By the end of my first year I had been elected President, become first aid trained and also become a coach for the club! Not only has this opportunity been a great way to make friends and keep fit, but the leadership and organisation skills I’ve developed from being president will benefit my future career as a barrister! As well as this I run a university Instagram page called Humans of UKC, which aims to share the stories of Kent one student at a time. Running this account has helped me personally to develop my emotional maturity and empathy, which I believe is an often overlooked but deeply important skill for barristers to have.
Congratulations on securing a Master’s Excellence Scholarship at Cardiff! Can you tell us what this scholarship means for you?
Thank you! As anyone who’s applied for the BTC knows, the course can be extremely expensive (I believe Cardiff is around £18,000!) and so this scholarship will be presented by way of a fee reduction. This means that I can stop worrying so much about how I’m going to afford the course and keep my head down for the next year. I’m very excited to be moving on in life and getting a step closer to being called to the bar, but I will miss Kent loads! I truly believe that had I gone to my first choice uni, I would not be in such a good position.
Can you tell us what aspect of your studies prompted your particular interest in gender justice and family law?
Personally I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community as well as a woman, and so gender justice is something I’ve always firmly believed in, but what really motivated me the most was the Freddie McConnell case (in which a trans man who had given birth to his son was forced to register as the child’s mother). I believe that we’re coming so far as a society to understand and accept sexual minorities, and yet the law is struggling to keep up!
As an aspiring barrister, can you tell us what difference you hope to be able to make in your career?
I hope to be able to make a difference because of my interests not only in gender justice, but in my deeper understanding of mental disabilities. Both of my brothers are autistic (but have hugely varying experiences – my twin is also at Kent whereas my big brother has been in special needs education his whole life). I have seen the way that mentally disabled people are discriminated against, and have been taken advantage of in court (re the Wimbledon common killing of Rachel Nickel, where the original person charged was trapped into admitting a crime he did not commit), and I hope to raise awareness and stop this taking advantage of the mentally disabled.
What advice do you have for students coming to Kent to study Law?
To Kent Law students: make the most of it. Law is hard but you’re at an excellent university, and you should try to get involved in at least one extra-curricular club or sports team in your time there. Talk to the people in your lectures, my best friend is someone I met on one of my first days in Woolf Lecture Theatre! Finally, have fun and don’t just be counting down the days until you graduate because you will regret it if you don’t live in the moment!
How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?
Never ever dull!