It has been a busy week. IP Draughts’ client work on Monday and Friday seemed like light relief compared with the three middle days, which were spent running a new training course. Three days in a row “on stage”, using untested material, is rather demanding!
The course was for LLM (Master of Laws) students at University College London. The subject was transactional skills. The course tutors (mainly Jelena Madir and IP Draughts, but with support from a new Anderson Law associate, Francis Davey, on day 3) introduced students to some of the issues that they would face when they started work in a law firm.
45 students signed up for the course. They were mostly from outside the UK. Colombia, Cyprus, Germany, India, Russia and Ukraine were some of the countries that were mentioned by students.
The topics that were covered on days 1 and 2 included the role of the lawyer in commercial transactions, the typical sequence of events in a large commercial deal, the structure of a contract, contract drafting techniques and techniques for clear legal writing generally. On day 3, students elected to work on an international financing deal with Jelena, or on an international technology collaboration with IP Draughts, and this day included sessions when the students were divided up into teams to negotiate the deal.
For IP Draughts, the most interesting aspect of the course was meeting the students and hearing their views on various topics. In the previous week he had participated in a discussion of the English Law Society’s strategy, in which it had been suggested that the UK was losing out in a race with the USA to attract overseas law students and to get overseas lawyers to become dual-qualified. It was good to hear the students explain this subject. It seems that US universities are even more expensive than those in the UK (it apparently costs £19,000 for an overseas student to take an LLM course at UCL) but it is easier to obtain the New York Bar qualification while doing a postgraduate US law degree than it is to qualify as a UK solicitor. The immigration rules are currently stricter in the UK than they are in the USA.
IP Draughts’ previous experience of teaching on an LLM course had been that many of the overseas students sat passively in the audience. In the absence of a well-established ‘Socratic method’ in UK law schools (we tend not to pick on students and demand answers to questions, in the way that is apparently done in the USA – think Professor Kingsfield in the Paper Chase) it is too easy for students to keep their heads down and say nothing. In the announcements for this course we had emphasised that students would be expected to contribute to the discussions, and thankfully most of them did.
IP Draughts was impressed by the quality of the students in last week’s course, and their willingness to engage with the topics that were being taught. We should encourage people like them to contribute to life in the UK, and not make it difficult for them to do so through the blunt instrument of immigration policy.