Great article on Legal Aid cuts. Particularly useful for our first year LLB group discussion.
To stretch your understanding check out the full CoA judgment in Lindner v Rawlings  EWCA Civ 51.
Student Joel Cartwright tells us what is meant by commercial awareness and advises us on how we can gain it….
As your legal studies and legal career progresses it is vital that you develop a certain amount of business know-how. You may have heard the term commercial awareness mentioned if you have a background in business studies but it is amazing how overlooked it is by law students. There is an increasing importance placed on the mystifying term “commercial awareness” and it is a big part of why you might lose out on a coveted role. A study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters saw 67% of employers report that commercial awareness is a skill which graduates lacked.
It’s highly likely that you’re thinking “but what is commercial awareness and how do I gain it?” In short, it is the ability to look at businesses and see how they interact internally and externally. While it is not a skill that can be taught it can be acquired by developing an interest in politics, news, and the legal sector. Read reputable newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN, The Daily Telegraph, etc. for a good overview of commercial news on local, national, and global level. Many of these can be accessed online for small fees (or even, in some cases, for free).
Once you have gained an understanding of how businesses work you will want to hone it by focusing on aspects that interest you. For instance, a sports fan may be more interested in their favourite teams’ administration than the latest Debenhams merger. It’s of paramount importance that everything you do is of interest to you so that you get the most out of it.
Another way to develop your newly gained commercial awareness and possibly the most useful way is to network. This can be done online or offline. If you are on the fence regarding websites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I suggest it’s time to cave in and register. It is becoming increasingly common for firms to have accounts on these websites where they can interact and stay up to date with the world around them making it a vital tool for each undergraduate to have. Offline it is possible to gain work experience in businesses with excellent transferrable skills for the legal sector such as accountancy firms, local government, and banks. It is also useful to attend marketing and career fairs and to join clubs and societies.
Once you begin applying for legal roles it is necessary to put your commercial awareness into a context the company will appreciate. So get used to fine tuning your interests to suit your long term goals. For instance, if you are hoping to work for a regional legal office in Yorkshire then it’s unlikely that your impressive knowledge of business practices in Wiltshire will help you. Know your target and it will make it much easier for you to score those lucrative training contracts, pupillages, and legal sector jobs.
An abundance of material is available which is tailored to law students and can be found in the links below.
– Ultimate Law Guide
– Law Gazette
– Legal Week
– The Lawyer
– Legal 500
Our first year LLB students had a guest speaker in their criminal law lecture last week. Student Kirsty Pybus gives us the details!
NON-FATAL OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON
A retired Police Officer came to talk to our Law degree students about the law in reality. He had worked within the force for 30 years, starting as Police Constable and before retiring was an Inspector in the Counter Terrorism Squad. His talk was about non-fatal offences against the person. It was designed to give us an insight into today’s policing and how this public role differs from that of a legal advocate.
A non-fatal offence is Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, contrary to section 47 Offences against the Person Act 1861. The offence is committed when a person assaults another.
For present purposes the OAPA 1861 is split up into 3 provisions.
provisions which require a specific intent (sections 11 to 14, 18, 21, 22, 24, 29 to 33, 38 to 40);
provisions which use the words ‘unlawfully’ and ‘maliciously’ in connection with a positive act (sections 17, 20, 23, 28);
provisions which do not use the words ‘maliciously’ or ‘unlawfully’ at all (sections 34–37, 41, 47)
Our guest spoke in detail about s47, s20 and s18.
S47: Actual bodily harm; Common assault;
S20: Unlawful wounding; inflicting bodily injury, with or without a weapon;
S18: Wounding with attempt; shooting or attempting to shoot, or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He explained that s47 ABH is applied when there is bruising to a victim, a doctors statement would be used to confirm this along with photographic evidence. Common assault s39 covers reddening of the skin. It is the lowest level of assault and hard to enforce, therefore we did not discuss this section further. S20 is used when wounding of the skin has occurred causing a bleed. S18 GBH with intent is the most serious and could carry a sentence of life imprisonment. S18 also covers resisting arrest.
There are specific laws that cover assaults on Police Officers, Prison Officers and Immigration Officers. Our guest explained that should a member of the public run to the aid of a police officer during an assault and was assaulted themselves then this is also covered specifically. Unfortunately there are no laws at present that outlines that it is an offence to assault a paramedic although the offenders are dealt with more severely.
It was pointed out that under English law, sexual offences are generally considered separately, since they differ substantially from other offences against the person in theoretical basis and composition. Sexual offences may be committed “with intent”, meaning there is an additional mens rea component that makes the defendant more culpable for their actions. Whilst recklessness is sufficient for most offences against the person.
It was discussed in detail, scenarios and actual events that had taken place during his career within the police. How a person may be arrested for an s18 assault, but yet the Crown Prosecution Service or whilst in court, the offender may actually only be found guilty of an s20. Our guest explained that sometimes this can be frustrating for the officers involved but if the offender will plead guilty to s20 but not the s18 if they feel it is a justified punishment for the crime they will settle for this as it saves money and time of a lengthy trial. It is fair to say that many officers at some point of their career will be accused of assault. The Criminal Law Act 1967 s3 and s117 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act codes of practice outlines what level of force an officer can use in his line of duty.
The talk was very informative to all the students, and it gave a real insight to the work and role of the police. Personally I found this exceptionally useful as I would like a career in the police after my degree. I discussed with him how I have been going through the recruitment process for special constables and if he felt this would be useful to me? Our guest speaker advised me that he thought it would be great experience and the only way to work towards becoming a regular officer in the future. He also touched on the requirements needed to be a special constable and the recruitment process should any of the other students be interested. I think I can speak for the class when I say we all thoroughly enjoyed the lesson and learnt a lot. I feel guest speakers and day visits of a practical nature are really useful alongside academic studies. I feel it helps those students whom are unsure where they would like to go in their legal career, it gives students a more detailed knowledge of all aspects of the legal sector, helping them to make a more informative decision when contemplating their futures.