Gerard Maye Legal Client Interviewing Competition
Now more than ever legal professionals need inter-personal skills as well as knowledge of the law in order to be successful.
The University of Brighton’s annual Legal Client Interviewing Competition seeks to promote the skills necessary for effective interviewing.
The theme for this year’s competition was criminal law, eg interviewing and advising clients in the police station for more serious crimes where much of the advice will focus on the forthcoming police interview. The competition was sponsored by Gerard Maye Legal.
Working in pairs, competitors took the role of solicitors advising clients in a police station. The competing teams were assessed on a range of criteria including client care skills, teamwork, the ability to extract relevant information as well as on the way in which they presented their advice to their client.
The final of the competition was judged by Defence Solicitor Gerry Maye from Gerard Maye Legal and Barrister Ross Talbott from Lamb Building.
The winning pair, Leila Mezoughi and David Ejim-McCubbin, have the opportunity to gain work experience at Gerard Maye Legal.
From the left: Leila Mezoughi, Law with Business LLB; David Ejim-McCubbin, Law with Business LLB; Gerry Maye, Gerard Maye Legal; Ross Talbott, Barrister, Lamb Building
Prior to the competition, students took part in a series of client interviewing workshops. The workshops covered communication styles, interview skills, active and passive listening, advising the client on the relevant area of law, and exploring both legal and non-legal options.
David Ejim-McCubbin said: “As a law student I quickly understood that obtaining legal experience in any capacity is almost as equally important as possessing legal qualifications. Therefore by winning the competition and securing work experience at Gerard Maye Legal I will become more attractive to employers. Completing such practical legal experience will allow me a smoother route into the legal profession.”
“The competition has taught me a range of skills including communication techniques such as passive and active listening, how to appropriately use open and closed questions, as well as knowing how to correctly apply the relevant law to a criminal issue. The support received from Jeanette Ashton, Gerry Maye and everybody else who generously shared their knowledge with us was invaluable, and greatly received.”
Co-winner Leila Mezoughi added “Any extra curricular legal activities, such as mooting and the client interview competition, sets your CV apart from others. Advocacy, legal and non-legal advice techniques, has added an extra dimension to my legal learning, enabling me to think outside the box and add a practical side to my academic learning. We had great support our lecturers who provided excellent incentives such as work experience for the winners and relevant legal speakers throughout.”
The competition was organised by law lecturer Jeanette Ashton, who says “We know that law firms today want so much more from their lawyers than technical legal expertise and this competition was designed to enhance skills necessary for client interviewing, a fundamental aspect of legal work. Students have worked on engaging with clients, question techniques and providing legal and non-legal advice in a client-friendly way, putting these skills into practice in the workshops and the competition itself.”
“I was impressed with how much the students developed through the workshops and how well they performed in the competition. The final was very close, with both judges commenting on the exceptionally high standard of interviewing.”
Gerry Maye, one of the judges, was impressed with the competitors saying “The finalists played out of their skins. Both teams should be very pleased with their performance, there was very little between them on the final scores, though sadly there had to be a winner.”