YOUNG LEGAL MINDS FOR 2016

The AGM of Young Legal Minds was held yesterday and it promises to be an eventful year.

The Board of YLM is now chaired by second year pupil, Edith Wong, and the positions of vice chairperson is held by Annarose Clarisse (student). The secretary is Kelly Kim Koon (first year pupil) and assisted by Rhea Rene (student) as vice-secretary. Emily (assistant state counsel) is retained as Treasurer for the second year in a row. There four other executive members are Zara Pardiwalla( attorney-at-law) , Angelique pouponneau (attorney-at-law), Alexandra Benoiton (attorney-at-law)  and Sharon Gerry (senior legal officer to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate change.

The plans are grand and ambitious but the Board assisted by the General Assembly of YLM to make these a reality. We expect to see “Know your rights” training, events on recent developments, legal tours, and talks on environment law and employment law to name but a few.

If you do not want to miss out on these events, become a member of the Young Legal Minds (besides we have snacks at meetings).

Task 1 – Designing a logo for YOUNG LEGAL MINDS

 

The climb to Attorney at Law

Q: How long does it take to become a doctor?

A: 3-7 years on average.

I’ll become a lawyer then.

Today’s article is about dispelling the myths the journey to Attorney-at-Law is a short journey with easy rewards.

Myth: You need to study English Literature, History and law to become a lawyer.

Many students who want to become lawyers have stirred their way to the humanities and during the years that Law was offered as a subject at A Level opted for that. However it is important to dispel the myth that you need to study humanities to become a lawyer. In fact, you can study any subject, although there is a preference for traditional subjects (not business studies, economics, accounting  but physics, history or chemistry) to become a lawyer. It is correct that some modules in a law degree is assessed through written examination where four questions have to answered in three hours and people who have studied history at A Level are accustomed to this format of assessment but that in itself is not an advantage to reading law at University.

Myth: It takes a shorter time to become an ATTORNEY AT LAW.

It starts with three years reading law at undergraduate level. Following the achievement of a law degree one must go on to do the Bar Course which imparts professional skills rather than the academic skills we are accustomed to at degree level. This is a one year course These are now the qualifications you have amassed during your time in a classroom. You then have to undertake a two year pupillage with an approved Chambers.

So you were 19 when you started reading law and now you are 25. It takes 6 year to complete the journey to Attorney at law. However you are always learning so the learning never stops. The trick is to never stop reading.

Myth : I will be rich as soon as I become a lawyer.

A lawyer is very dependent on his or her reputation therefore a person requires sometime to build their reputation and earn respect before clients start flooding through the doors. Do not read law for the money otherwise the struggles of being a baby barrister is real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Continue reading The climb to Attorney at Law

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

So you’re thinking of becoming a lawyer but the word lawyer is so often thrown around so you’re not too sure. In reality, ‘I’m going to call my lawyer,” is the adult equivalent of “I am going to tell mum.”

Some of you are the loud mouth, witty and argumentative type who believe you are born for the court room. The court room is your stage starring you as lead. It seems almost automatic you are drawn to criminal law. The pauses. The surprise witness. The cross cross-examination. The witness will probably never confess but you will bring them very near to it.

On the other hand are the lawyers who prefer to stay out of theatrics but win a case before the referee blows the whistle. You seem more attracted to civil law. It is often heard that I want to be a corporate lawyer. The on point written submissions. The assessment of risk and good judgment. Strategic negotiating skills. The other side will not even think about proceeding to court.

However in reality is it as clear-cut as that? The short answer is no.
Most lawyers in the Seychelles are specialists in general practice which means generally lawyers do not specialise in one area of law. This can be compared to England where you have chancery barristers, criminal barristers and personal injury barristers. So keep an open mind when reading law at university. Give each subject an equal chance. Do not take the stand that I want to be a criminal lawyer and focus on criminal law.

My first-hand experience is this. I chose to do law to fight human rights cases and be a feared and respected criminal lawyer. Whilst reading law I struggled with criminal law and excelled at trust and equity and company law. It is sometimes unfortunate when your interest and ability in an area of law do not coincide but it does not have to be. It is true I am a lawyer whose clients are usually corporations, companies or big hotels and I thoroughly prefer civil cases such as employment, personal injury, insurance and private international law because I feel it is an intellectual challenge. Nevertheless my favourite case so far is defending in a manslaughter.

Furthermore as a lawyer in Seychelles the skills aren’t so clear-cut either. Generally lawyers are both strategists and negotiators at the early stage as well as effective advocates when it is game time. You will have to learn all the necessary skills even the ones you do not like or do not think you excel in.

So lesson to learn is “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

Learning the values of the trade…

So you are starting pupillage hoping to use all the skills you have learned at University to be the best lawyer possible, but pupillage will teach you values that the books do not teach you.

You are sat in a court room for 8.30 mentions. You have arrived at 8.25 to make sure if you have any cases against senior lawyers they are not dismissed in your absence but today you do not so you sit as you await for your case to be called.

Values to learn:

Respect: cases are not called based on punctuality but seniority so you learn to respect the hierarchy that senior lawyers’ cases will be called before yours.

Patience: so a whole stream of lawyers have just entered the court room and all senior to you so you learn patience as you sit and wait with your eye on the time as you know you have a 9 am hearing at the Supreme Court. You also learn to be patient with life your time will come when your case will be called first. Be patient.

Respect for authority: you are at the bottom of the hierarchy and most of the time you unquestioningly accept the decision of the adjudicator, besides they must know better than me is a common thought. There will be occasions that you will disagree with the decision being taken by the adjudicator but you learn restraint. You do not argue with the him or her. If you disagree you can appeal.

Restraint: The Court is a place where you show the utmost respect to the adjudicator, the court orderly, interpreter and your peers at the Bar. Your learned friend acting for the other side will sometimes be condescending or arrogant to you or plain out bully you but remember in the court room always show respect and decorum for the Court. RESTRAIN YOURSELF FROM ACTING OUT.

Preparation: you are still junior you will not know all the answers and no one wants to be scolded by the Magistrate or the Judge for a lack of preparation, so the short answer is this: prepare, prepare, prepare.

It is never personal: as a lawyer you work in an adversarial environment, every day is an exam and you are always pit against another. There will be many disagreements but remember it should not be taken personally.

So it is 8.55 and your case has been called and you need to get to the Supreme Court for your 9 am hearing and as you drive there all you can think about is this:

” do not speed, speeding is dangerous, speeding kills and if I was caught speeding and entered the dock of the Magistrates’ Court what would I say in my plea in mitigation? Your worship I am a baby barrister I had 8.30 mentions in the Magistrates’ Court and a 9 am hearing. That is all.”

I am still thinking today whether this would be a plea in mitigation at all or more of a plea in aggravation. I can hear it now: Miss you are aware of the laws of this country? You are a baby barrister? So you know speeding is an offence?”

You: Yes. Yes. Yes.

The struggles of being a baby barrister.judge