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Marc Mason, co-author of world’s first research into Sexuality at the Bar

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Spotlight on…Marc Mason, co-author of world’s first research into Sexuality at the Bar

On 25 September 2017 Marc Mason announced the prelim results of the first research which sought to understand the career experiences of LGBT+ barristers.

Where?

The prelim results were launched at an event entitled “Sexuality at the Bar: An Empirical Exploration into the Experiences of LGBT+ Barristers in England & Wales”, co-organised by Westminster Law School, the UCL Centre for Ethics and Law, and 29 Bedford Row Chambers.

Who?

The research was undertaken by Marc Mason, Senior Lecturer at the Westminster Law School, in collaboration with Dr Steven Vaughan, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at University College London who presented their findings and engaged in discussions with a group of of invited panellists including Barristers and Law experts.

What?

The research project, the first of its kind, used a survey of 126 practicing barristers, pupils and students, and 38 interviews, asking them about the extent to which their sexuality has impacted on their legal practice and their experience in the workplace and exploring the role and function of LGBT+ support networks for barristers.

Using an open call survey collecting qualitative and quantitative data, the results show a variety of complex practices which govern whether (and when and how) LGBT+ members of the Bar feel comfortable being open about their sexuality as well as highlighting a significant number of LGBT+ barristers who have experienced work-related bullying and/or discrimination. The research also suggests an increasing role for Bar-specific LGBT+ networks and the value of LGBT+ role models, both at the Bar and in the judiciary.

Why?

The research project, the first of its kind, sought to understand the career experiences of LGBT+ barristers, asking them about

the extent to which (if at all) their sexuality has impacted on their legal practice, and to explore the role and function of LGBT+ support networks for barristers.

Speaking about his work, Researcher and Senior Lecturer Marc Mason said:

“We were delighted with the level of response to our research, as it has enabled us to generate some really fascinating and useful data around the way the issues of sexuality, and to some degree gender identity, are dealt with at the Bar. Whilst the Bar is a relatively small profession in terms of numbers, it is widely considered an influential elite and therefore diversity issues such as access and representation become even more important. We hope that the research findings will be useful to the profession and to those concerned with equality and diversity more broadly.”

 

Marc Mason (Left) with Dr Steven Vaughan (right)

Jaro Bernart a graduate from the LLM Legal Pratice (LPC) talks about how the LPC course helped him to hit the ground running in his career.

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Jaro Bernart completed the LPC evening part-time course, graduating in 2016

“The University of Westminster’s convenient location close to my workplace‎ caught my eye first. I asked several qualified solicitor colleagues and friend

s who also studied at Westminster, or had secondhand knowledge of it, and all of them rated it very positively as an institution staffed by down to earth, determined professionals. The fees were also significantly lower than others.

“It was easy to settle in and get to know people in the Law School. Most students on the part-time course already had legal jobs, and were keen to make the most of their time at university. So there was minimum snobbery, and the environment was very healthy.

“The course was very well structured. The materials were logically put together, and sessions tied over nicely to create steady progress and resemble real scenarios. In addition to the University’s own materials, external publications (eg by Oxford University Press etc) were included – that’s not something my friends on other LPCs received.

“I had an excellent relationship with the lecturers and tutors, and I have fond memories of each of them. Those that were more involved in delivering the course stand out, but each person was approachable, and keen to talk. It was clear they had the requisite practical experience to teach on a practical course.

“I had a busy professional, family and academic life during my time at Westminster, so I can’t comment too much on student life outside class. However, the LPC leaders ‎organised many events for us and managed to attract decent numbers. A typical evening out with the tutors and students was a great bonding exercise. If I had had more time, I would have attended more of those events. In class, it was good to mix with students from various backgrounds. There’s no harm in expanding one’s horizon to understand modern society.

“I started to train as a solicitor in September 2016 as planned. A trainee must complete a seat in several legal areas, and Westminster has taught me enough to hit the ground running when I started training in a new seat. It’s a huge advantage to know the procedure when one works in a law firm.

“If someone is thinking of applying to the University and is planning on practising in a high street law firm (ie representing people or small businesses rather than corporations or banks), then Westminster is a no-brainer – it provides everything a high street lawyer needs.

“That’s the type of firm I work in. Bosses don’t care what the course provider is called, but they do want to know that their staff are well prepared. I know some professionals and students seem convinced that only BPP and University of Law hold a recipe for success, but that’s mere propaganda. The University of Westminster delivers everything it promises and more. It’s up to the individual to break into the profession.”

Nikkel Wiltshire graduated from the Legal Practice Course (LPC)

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Nikkel Wiltshire graduated from the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with Distinction in 2016.   Coming from Trinidad he manged to combine serious study with enjoyment of living in one of the world’s most exciting and beautiful cities.

“I made up my mind to study at the University of Westminster after Martin Skirrow and Miles Macleod (members of the LPC team) visited Trinidad with their course pitch. Studying in the heart of London, and the genuine family-like care that they have for their students (which was evident by the way they spoke about them) were two of the deciding factors.

“The Law school made settling in and getting to know each other very easy by facilitating many out of school activities throughout the year. It was no different in the classroom, as group interaction was almost always a part of the class session.

“All of the lecturers were very warm and welcoming, and this was the case even during the application stages online. They did everything they could to ensure that we were always comfortable and to make you feel like part of a Westminster Family.

“Both the University and the course surpassed my expectations. Out of all my tertiary schooling this course was by far the best, most well put together and perfectly executed of all. The best things about the course were the way it facilitated critical thinking and practical application of the law. Because the course is tested through open-book examinations and oral assessments, it drives students to ‘think’. Being successful in this course requires more than one’s ability to recite textbook material.

“Being a student in London, there are endless things to do and see. The city is simply beautiful. There is never a dull moment, and while it is expensive in some respects there is no shortage of free attractions, so living on a student’s budget does not inhibit the fun that you can have.

“After graduating from the LPC I came back home to Trinidad, where I am currently a trainee Attorney at Law serving my six-month attachment at M. Hamel-Smith & Co., one of the oldest and leading commercial law firms in the country. There is no doubt that the skills learnt on the LPC positively impacted on the  contributions that I am able to make in my job.

“To anyone thinking of applying for a Law course at the University of Westminster, I would give them the assurance that they are making the right decision. You are definitely in safe hands, and will come out of the course a year later having learnt a lot and having equally as much fun doing so.”

Romela Ramberran graduated from the Legal Practice Course (LPC)

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Romela Ramberran graduated from the Legal Practice Course LLM (LPC) with Commendation in 2016.  She loved studying close to Oxford street as well as the friendliness of the other students and staff.

“I decided to study at the University of Westminster following a presentation by Martin Skirrow and Miles McLeod, who did an amazing job of pitching the perks of attending the University, such as the location, the small group learning sessions, their willingness to assist with queries and their friendly and caring demeanours.

“My actual experience at Westminster surpassed all my expectations; while the courses were a bit challenging, the supportive staff and lecturers were always there as guides and mentors to assist in any difficulties encountered. It was by far my best tertiary-level education experience!

“As the course structure was divided between lectures and small group sessions, it allowed students to interact and work together on questions which helped to foster relationships with peers. The numerous events held both within and outside the Law School also aided in this process.

“The lecturers and staff were always very open and friendly, willing to assist in any way possible. Even before I was enrolled, they responded to emails and phone calls out of office hours; once I was actually enrolled they always treated my peers and I like part of their family.

“I really enjoyed the small group sessions which  allowed for active learning and participation in classes. The availability of online lectures were also very useful to my learning.

“The staff at Westminster ensured that students were well entertained – while serious about our learning, they still provided many avenues to facilitate mixers and student events, which I quite enjoyed.

“And one of the best things about being a student in London is the availability of all leisure activities at your fingertips! I loved being able to hop on a bus or the Tube and reach places of interest in a matter of minutes. I also enjoyed the fact that Westminster was a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street, which was always bustling with life and activity.

“Upon my return to my home country, Trinidad, I began the six-month attachment with the law firm Johnson, Camacho and Singh Attorneys-at-Law. Since the LPC was a very practical course, it definitely made my transition into the world of work less difficult as the skills learned were actively used.

“To anyone thinking of applying for a Law course at the University of Westminster, I would advise them to prepare to work smart. The LPC is all about application and not a regurgitation of facts. All materials and resources for learning are provided, it is the student’s duty to take those resources and manipulate them through practical application, an approach definitely fostered by the tutors.”

Lana Rukavina’s experience on the International Commercial Law LLM 

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Lana Rukavina, graduated from the International Commercial Law LLM 

I chose Westminster as the place to study for my Masters because I liked the curriculum and the broad range of modules to choose from, which allowed me to completely tailor the course to my specific interests. Furthermore, it’s great that Westminster Law School is in central London, and the various student halls in the area provide the opportunity to live in one of the greatest cities in the world. There are also extensive funding opportunities, and the scholarship I received held an important place in my overall student experience.

The University and the course definitely lived up to my expectations. The way that lectures and seminars were delivered, the interactive classes, the wealth of social and educational activities, the support for international students, classmates from all over the world, teachers who were very enthusiastic about what they did and brought that enthusiasm into the classroom – all these experiences made my University days exciting, both in terms of the knowledge I gained and the people I met.

I could not praise the lecturers and tutors more. They were very supportive, not only with our coursework and exams, but they were also at hand to discuss any future law career predicaments. Their friendliness often made me feel like they were my peers, rather than superiors I ought to be afraid of. I still keep in touch and even meet up for coffee with some of them, as I still live in London.

One of the best things about the course was the executive weekend full of interesting lectures and networking opportunities in a beautiful English countryside hotel. Moreover, I loved the fact that in order to complete their tasks, students were often required to undertake a lot of research and engage their minds creatively, rather than being given large amounts of dry information to remember.

The social life at Westminster was great. The Welcome Week organised at the beginning of the course enabled international students to learn everything that they needed to know about their new country, while allowing them to socialise in a relaxed setting (spending a day in Brighton, experiencing a Thames boat cruise and, in my case, embarrassing myself singing karaoke). There were numerous events organised by the students for the students throughout the year; I attended both a pub crawl along the Thames and an interesting tax avoidance lecture by prominent speakers, so there was something for everyone.

The best thing about being a Masters student in London is the fact that you are living in a great cosmopolitan city full of endless possibilities. There is always something going on and so much to choose from – West End theatres, art cinemas, free museums, year-round festivals, career and sporting events… it is a cultural melting pot in which you will thrive, meet people from all over the world and, whatever quirky interests you might have, you can be sure to find a place for yourself.

Since I graduated I have been working in a City law firm in the white collar crime area. The course made me think more clearly about what I like and want to do in my future career. It has given me an insight into areas of law I knew nothing about previously, and made my CV much more attractive to prospective employers. The Careers Office at the University was also tremendously helpful in making decisions about my future career plans, writing CVs and cover letters, and even helping me out with mock interviews when I found myself lost preparing for the real ones. The support I received from them was simply amazing.

Nothing I can say would prepare other international students for the immense possibilities that will open up in front of them while doing an LLM at the University of Westminster. What I can say is this: do not think twice about the LLM offer you are made, go open minded, make a good use of all the University support that is on offer, and enjoy your time at Westminster. I wish I could relive it again.

Emina Zahirovic. LLM in International Law at the University of Westminster

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Emina Zahirovic completed her LLM in International Law at the University of Westminster, and  joined international legal firm BDK Advokati/Attorneys at Law at its Banja Luka office in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Emina got a scholarship to Westminster, graduating in November 2013.  She looks back to her time living and studying with other students which she remembers as one of the best experiences of her life. 

When I was looking for a masters course I was looking for specific modules that I wanted to study – international human rights law, and humanitarian law – and when I was comparing universities in London, Westminster was the only one which offered both of these modules on the one course, so it was the best option for me.

I looked at the ratings, the teaching profiles, the facilities and all the other things that Westminster offered, and it all looked good, but it was the course content which was the most important for me; I didn’t want to settle for something else, I really wanted to study those modules.

It was my first time studying in the UK, and both the location and the University really lived up to my expectations. Because the University is based in central London it’s easy to get to know the city. And everyone is really helpful at Westminster – starting from the School registry to the professors and the staff, everyone is there to help you out. We were all international students, and we were struggling a little bit with our English at the beginning, but everyone helped us out.

The way we were taught, and the way we were able to study, was one of the highlights of the course for me. Here in Bosnia the focus is much more on memorising facts and the classical exam styles; at Westminster it was much more about research and original coursework. It definitely taught me how to think, rather than what to think. The people on the course also helped to make it an amazing experience.

I learned so much, and I loved being at Westminster; I had really wanted to study in London for years, so this was a dream come true for me.

The position I’ve taken up now with BDK has more of a focus on corporate and commercial law, which is not quite the area that I was studying for. I thought it might be a problem for me to find a job in a branch of law outside of human rights or humanitarian law, but in the end, studying at the University of Westminster really went in my favour when it came to applying for the post.

I would definitely advise anyone thinking of studying law at Westminster to go for it – the facilities, the libraries and the access to things are amazing. Perhaps the best advice for international students would be to do the short course before you start your LLM, just to get used to the way you need to write, the form, and the legal English you need to know. I think that’s the one thing that could have made a big difference – if I had done the introductory course, I think I would have got even more out of my LLM.

And if you want to make the most of the social life, then live in halls of residence – that was also one of the best experiences of my life. I lived in Wigram House; I made so many friends, it was so easy to get adjusted to London, to overcome that culture shock, and you never feel lonely… it makes me want to go back to London right now!

Ademilola Yerokun graduated (with a Distinction) from the International Law LLM course 

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Ademilola Yerokun graduated (with a Distinction) from the International Law LLM course 

I chose to study at Westminster because the website and brochure had a comprehensive explanation of the course details and structure; I knew what I was going into even before I had started the course. The fees were very reasonable and the location was very central and easily accessible for me.

The structure of the course was fantastic. We had seminars which were incorporated into the lectures, and I referred to them as ‘leminars’. This meant that participation was actively encouraged which created a very positive learning environment. The resources including books and teaching facilities that were available to me for the duration of the course were adequate, and my lecturers and tutors were very professional and friendly. I have since returned to Westminster for further studies and I have seen some of my tutors from the LLM and have been able to approach them for a friendly chat.

As a postgraduate course, I was required to do my independent study in order to be able to participate fully in the class. Completing the course with a Distinction affirmed my decision to have a career in Law. Since I graduated I have been working but I am now currently back at the University of Westminster studying the Legal Practice Course on a part-time basis.

The advice I would you give to anyone thinking of studying for their LLM at the University of Westminster is to go for it – you will get value for your money. But make sure you also prepare to work hard and participate in class. This will ultimately be to your advantage when you have to write your essays and exams.

Claudia Scheufler graduated from the International Law LLM

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Claudia Scheufler graduated from the International Law LLM, and now works for Amnesty International, focusing on issues in Syria and Lebanon

I was living in Sydney, Australia, , when I decided to apply for a Masters course and I hardly knew anything about the universities in London or the academic system here. From the various universities I contacted, I found Westminster to be the most helpful and well organised. I then looked up the profiles of the professors that would teach my course and made my decision based on this.

I was not sure what to expect when I applied but before I accepted the offer, I was a little apprehensive about the cost of the course as it was quite significantly cheaper than some of the other universities in London. But looking back, I’m so pleased I completed my course at Westminster; the teaching quality was excellent, the teaching staff were leading professionals in their field and dedicated to bringing out the best in the students, and the course content was well designed and encouraged students to ‘think outside the box’. The facilities of the Law campus are not amazing but completely sufficient.

I found all the lecturers and tutors very helpful, accessible and genuinely interested in helping students to learn to the best of their abilities. My dissertation supervisor in particular was really helpful and assisted me with advice and encouragement through a variety of minor and major moments of panic.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the classes and the readings, which were super interesting and encouraged creative legal thinking. The other students in my class were also great, everyone was dedicated to learning but still fun and sociable, and whenever I had a problem there was always someone around to help out. On the induction day the Dean of the Law School said in his speech that we should look around the room as some of these people would be our friends for life, and I remember thinking ‘yeah, whatever’, but he was actually right.

It’s rather cool to be in London as a Masters student, having a reasonably flexible schedule with time off in the afternoons. There are excellent libraries, so sometimes I enjoyed spending a few hours at the British Library or the LSE library. For international law in particular there are also events taking place at organisations such as Chatham House or the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and it’s great to be able to attend those and keep up with international law developments. There are also a lot of interesting places around to do internships or volunteering. Most of the galleries and museums in London are free and there are often interesting exhibitions. And of course the university is close to Oxford Street, so there are ample opportunities for shopping. Basically, I have not found anything that I wanted to do and was not able to in London – including, for example, music festivals, joining a surf club and learning how to fence.

During the second half of my Masters I started working in an admin role at Amnesty International. A few months after graduation I moved into an assistant position in their Middle East research department, where I’m still working and which I thoroughly enjoy. Having a solid understanding of public international law really is essential for all aspects of my work, as, in my opinion, it is impossible to successfully campaign against and research human rights violations without understanding the basics of international law. In addition to that, the other units I’ve taken, including research methodology, international humanitarian law and international criminal law, have also proven very helpful in my current role, where I am dealing with conflict and non-conflict related international law violations on a daily basis.

The course has also been a good foundation for the additional academic study that I’ve undertaken after graduating. Last year, I completed a specialised Postgraduate Diploma in International Humanitarian Law, which was easy for me to follow while working full-time as I had already gained a good understanding of the issues around this during my Masters. I have also completed a number of short courses, and I’m currently studying Arabic and French. In short, virtually everything I learned during the course has come in handy at some point.

If I was to give advice to anyone thinking of studying their LLM at the University of Westminster, I think I would quite simply say: “Do it!” Of course I would tell them to also consider general career aspirations, research interests and potential dissertation supervisors, and what they overall hope to gain from their course. If they want to take a year off and party in London, I would not recommend Westminster, as the course did require a lot of work (at least for me). But if they want to learn, then it’s a great place.

Blazej Blasikiewicz graduated from the International Law LLM

Posted on: 3 October 2017
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Originally I applied to Westminster to study for my Masters in International Economics, because I am an economist and I had already completed my Masters in Economics in Poland; I thought that perhaps I would go on to work as an economist in the City, or in a field related to economics. Then I attended the introductory week before starting the course, and I realised that I had already covered a lot of the subject while studying in Poland, and I didn’t want to do the same thing again. I’m interested in politics so I did consider taking the Diplomatic Studies course, but then I also found the International Law LLM, and when I contacted the course leader he said he would be happy for me to join the course.

That’s one piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of studying for the LLM at Westminster; go along to the introductory week, and take advantage of the opportunity to find out more about the subjects, talk to the professors and the course leaders. Doing that enables you to make the right decisions about your course and the subjects you will study.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started the course, as I didn’t know much about international law, but I think Dr Marco Roscini [the International Law LLM Course Leader] is one of the best professors I have had, someone I really respect. The contact generally with lecturers and professors was good, so I was very happy with Westminster, and with the knowledge I gained while I was there. For me, having already done my Bachelors degree and Masters in Poland, I didn’t need to spend so much time studying methodology, and I don’t think that should be a compulsory part of the course for everyone. But other than that, I think the course was excellent.

The location of the University is fantastic, but if I had to pick one highlight from my time at Westminster, I think it would be the way Marco conducted the classes; he was always perfectly prepared, and that really impressed me.

In general the course has prepared me well for my career; with my two degrees, I started an internship in the Hague to set up a dispute resolution facility for international financial markets, called PRIME Finance, and my background in finance and in international law helped me a lot. Now I work part-time at PRIME Finance, and part-time in the international arbitration team at NautaDutilh, one of the biggest Benelux law firms. So my Masters at Westminster helped me immensely, it prepared me and gave me a good background in the subject. I hope in the future to also work more in politics and lobbying, and be able to influence the decision makers, and again I think my degrees will give me a good advantage.

Originally I applied to Westminster to study for my Masters in International Economics, because I am an economist and I had already completed my Masters in Economics in Poland; I thought that perhaps I would go on to work as an economist in the City, or in a field related to economics. Then I attended the introductory week before starting the course, and I realised that I had already covered a lot of the subject while studying in Poland, and I didn’t want to do the same thing again. I’m interested in politics so I did consider taking the Diplomatic Studies course, but then I also found the International Law LLM, and when I contacted the course leader he said he would be happy for me to join the course.

That’s one piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of studying for the LLM at Westminster; go along to the introductory week, and take advantage of the opportunity to find out more about the subjects, talk to the professors and the course leaders. Doing that enables you to make the right decisions about your course and the subjects you will study.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started the course, as I didn’t know much about international law, but I think Dr Marco Roscini [the International Law LLM Course Leader] is one of the best professors I have had, someone I really respect. The contact generally with lecturers and professors was good, so I was very happy with Westminster, and with the knowledge I gained while I was there. For me, having already done my Bachelors degree and Masters in Poland, I didn’t need to spend so much time studying methodology, and I don’t think that should be a compulsory part of the course for everyone. But other than that, I think the course was excellent.

The location of the University is fantastic, but if I had to pick one highlight from my time at Westminster, I think it would be the way Marco conducted the classes; he was always perfectly prepared, and that really impressed me.

In general the course has prepared me well for my career; with my two degrees, I started an internship in the Hague to set up a dispute resolution facility for international financial markets, called PRIME Finance, and my background in finance and in international law helped me a lot. Now I work part-time at PRIME Finance, and part-time in the international arbitration team at NautaDutilh, one of the biggest Benelux law firms. So my Masters at Westminster helped me immensely, it prepared me and gave me a good background in the subject. I hope in the future to also work more in politics and lobbying, and be able to influence the decision makers, and again I think my degrees will give me a good advantage.

Could French Contract Law Become the Preferred Governing Law for International Business Contracts?

Posted on: 27 April 2017
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BRYAN  CAVE  LLP  FRANCO-BRITISH INITIATIVE

Could French Contract Law Become the Preferred Governing Law for International Business Contracts?

On January 26 2017, Bryan Cave’s London office hosted a debate on the recently implemented reform of French contract law – the French Civil Code – which is designed to make it the law of choice for international companies. Two teams of lawyers discussed whether French law was now a challenge to the dominance of English law in cross-border contracts.

The English law argument was presented by:

•         Rémy Blain, Bryan Cave M&A Partner and Managing Partner of the Paris office

•         Jeremy Aron, Group Legal Director, Packaging at DS Smith

And the French law argument by:

•         Mathew Rea, Co-head of the Global International Arbitration Team and a Partner in Bryan Cave’s London office

•         Catherine Pédamon, Deputy Head of the LLM Course in International Commercial Law in the Department of Advanced Legal Studies at Westminster Law School and a Senior lecturer in Law

The event was moderated by Peter Rees QC of 39 Essex Chambers. Peter is a leading expert in international arbitration and commercial litigation and the former Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Catherine Pédamon, (centre) with fellow debaters.

Catherine Pédamon (centre) with fellow debaters.

Read the full pdf. here: franco-british-initiative-bryan-cave-flyer_c01v03