I recently conducted a workshop on mooting at the London College of Legal Studies (South). The intention behind hosting the workshop was to encourage undergraduate students to become involved in mooting – an activity that still does not have a broad appeal in Bangladesh – by providing them with an overview of its history, what it involves, how it will benefit them and the opportunities LCLS will provide to partake in it. I also provided a little taster of the work that they will have to do to prepare for a moot by distributing a sample moot problem from a competition that I had participated in before, as well as the skeleton that my teammate and I had prepared for it.
As LCLS (S) is hoping to participate in a few international moots, I also showed the students a copy of the memorial my teammates and I prepared for the VIIth KK Luthra International Criminal Law Moot in 2011. For those who would like to take a look at the presentation (incl. presentation notes) and the ancillary documents, please find them below:
Law is often portrayed as a dull discipline pursued by the ethically dubious. Actually it governs everything from embryo to exhumation
In an episode of The Simpsons, the juvenile delinquent Jimbo Jones helps a group which is trying to reduce crime in the community. The scheme, however, goes badly wrong. Disenchanted, Jimbo turns to another member and says “Hey man, you’ve really let me down. Now I don’t believe in anything anymore. I’m joining Law School”.
Although law is sometimes portrayed as a dull discipline pursued by ethically dubious practitioners, it is a spellbindingly vivid and varied subject which affects every part of human life.
Physics, history, Spanish, business, architecture, and other subjects are all vital disciplines but law permeates into every cell of social life. Law governs everything from the embryo to exhumation. Law regulates the air we breathe, the food and drink that we consume, our travel, sexuality, family relationships, our property, sport, science, employment, education, and health, everything in fact from neighbour disputes to war.
A university law degree is the most adaptable of academic qualifications. Only people who want to become doctors study medicine whereas people with diverse career plans study law.
Many law graduates, of course, do go on to become solicitors or barristers but, equally, many others use the qualification to become successful in companies, academic research, the media, the civil service, local government, teaching, campaign organisations, and politics – over 80 MPs, for example, have law degrees.
Being educated in logical thinking, the articulate expression of complex ideas, the composition and art of argument, and how to use evidence and rules, law graduates have an excellent record of employability. A law degree can prepare someone for work at the highest levels – many world leaders are lawyers including Barack Obama. Other law graduates such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Derren Brown, Gaby Logan, and Gerard Butler, chose different careers.
My Thoughts: I agree with the author that the law can be very useful and very interesting – but it is rarely both. While the law governs all aspects of our lives, it is generally the case that knowledge regarding contract, tort, criminal, property and administrative law is the most ‘useful’. Even amongst these, it is primarily contract law that we confront in our day-to-day lives.
While the case law on these areas of law can be engaging, it is statutes that are ‘most useful’ when you’re involved in a dispute and those can be incredibly boring to go through.
The areas of law that I found most interesting, Constitutional Law, International Law, EU Law, Legal History, Jurisprudence etc. are intellectually stimulating but have less of an application in everyday life.
However, it is the opportunity to be able to study both ‘useful’ and ‘interesting’ (if I’m allowed to make this artificial distinction for a moment) subjects during your law degree, that makes the course so enriching.
I liked the final paragraph where the Guardian quoted Seinfeld where he said that a lawyer is “the person who knows the rules of the country. We are all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.”
As a treat, here’s the video of Seinfeld making the above joke:
There’s no denying it. Even if we shroud ourselves in the UK common law and stand by the principles that make the system unique, we can’t deny the influence that US Supreme Court decisions have started to have in courts around the world.
If we look beyond legal proceedings, knowledge about how the Court works, the Justices and important legal judgments is crucial to our understanding of US political affairs. Therefore, I’ve added a link to the US Supreme Court blog on the right hand side of this blog.
I would encourage readers to go through it. They may find the section written in plain, non-legal English to be particularly enlightening. I would recommend starting with the analysis written by legal journalist, Lyle Denniston, on the Affordable Care Act (legislation pertaining to ‘Obamacare’, as it is called) that has caused so much controversy over the past year or so:
Analysis: Why a health care law, anyway?
This is one of a continuing series of articles the blog will publish over the next six weeks, explaining more fully the new federal health care law, and the Supreme Court’s review of the constitutionality of key parts of that law. This article deals with Congress’s reasons for enacting the sweeping national law, and explains why key provisions were immediately challenged in court, leading now to Supreme Court review.
It may come as a surprise to the critics of the new federal health care law, who derisively label it “Obamacare” to put the blame for it on the current President, but the fact is that Congress actually started thinking about requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance as early as 1994. But it will come as no surprise, to those Democrats in Congress who finally voted to adopt such a mandate in 2010 (the new bill got no Republican votes in either the House or Senate), that the very idea has been surrounded by constitutional doubt for a generation. Thus it was that, within seven minutes after President Obama in March 2010 signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the insurance mandate’s constitutionality had been put to a test in a federal court in Pensacola, Fla.
It is that very case that the Supreme Court has now agreed to review.