Inns & Outs of UK Law: LondonEx Wraps Up Its 42nd Summer Program
With the battle to choose a successor to Prime Minister Theresa May in its final stages, arguments about how the UK should leave the European Union still rumbling, and the possibility of a suspended Parliament and a subsequent constitutional crisis looming, summer 2019 is certainly an interesting time to study law in London.
The College of Law's 42nd LondonEx summer externship program wrapped up on July 5, with the all-female group of 15 externs returning Stateside after an intensive six-week immersion in the UK legal, justice, and political systems.
Supervised by LondonEx Director Professor Mary-Helen McNeal and Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew Horsfall, the students—including two from outside the College of Law—spent time in the classroom and in practice learning how the UK, European, and international legal systems work; reflecting on the differences in education and training of lawyers in the UK and in the US; and understanding the impact of culture on lawyering and professional environments.
"This year's LondonEx program saw a dynamic group of students pursue externship opportunities at MSCI Inc., State Street Global Advisors, US Bank, Withers LLP, the AIRE Center, REDRESS, the Borough of Islington, Woolwich Crown Court, barristers' chambers—or 'sets'—and solicitors' firms," explains Horsfall.
"I absolutely loved my placement," says 2L Frances Rivera Reyes, who externed at MSCI Inc. "All the passionate individuals in the team created a positive work environment and became connections that will last me a lifetime."
Students began their London experience with a weeklong orientation session centered around five core themes. "This session offered foundational exposure to British legal education, the British legal system, comparative ethics and professional responsibility, British politics, and access to justice in criminal and civil settings," says Horsfall.
Lectures and events included a night at the theatre to see courtroom drama "Witness for the Prosecution"; panel discussions on life on an in-house counsel team and on "Women in the Law"; a discussion of European General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR); a seminar on "crime and punishment" by the Old Bailey Insight & Legal London Group; and shared perspectives from practicing barristers and solicitors.
"LondonEx program alumna Ashley Brickles-Shapiro L’10, Managing Director at FTI Consulting, also talked to the students about her experiences learning and now living and working in London, along with her husband and fellow LondonEx alum Jeffrey Shapiro L'10, an eDiscovery Support Manager at Clifford Chance," adds McNeal.
An innovation for this year's program was a full day of lectures on international law and politics featuring alumnus Jim Bergeron L'90, Political Advisor to NATO’s Allied Maritime Command; Charlie Loudon, International Law Analyst at human rights advocates REDRESS; and Nuala Mole (founder) and Hannah Smith (International Legal Advisor), both of the legal charity the AIRE Centre.
Site visits included a Legal London Walking Tour through the Inns of Court and visits to the UK Supreme Court, Parliament, the Royal Courts of Justice, and the Hackney Law Centre.
In addition to their externships and legal studies, the students enjoyed a traditional reception on the terrace of the Middle Temple Inn, one of the four Inns of Court, the professional associations that regulate barristers in the UK. "On the weekends, the students also traveled to Dublin, Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Marbella, Edinburgh, Stockholm, among other European destinations," adds Horsfall.
"The LondonEx program was definitely one of my best decisions since coming to Syracuse," concludes 2L Morgan Mendenhall, who assisted Peter Susman QC at Henderson Chambers. "It provided an opportunity to not only experience London but also to apply the legal skills I learned in my first year. The networking opportunities are unparalleled as they reach across the world!"