Formal university education is finished for the foreseeable. Three years of study have culminated in two mediation Saturdays, a debate on interim interdict, an employment tribunal cross-examination, sorting out a casino licence, a personal injury claim negotiation and a mock trial in the Sheriff Court. It only remains for me to redeliver the jury speech I gave for formal assessment and I’ll be officially done with my diploma in professional legal practice.
The diploma has not been without challenges. It was something of an adjustment to go from luxurious theorising and expansive essays on legal minutiae to the unrelenting churn of practical deadlines, form-filling, tax calculation and quantification that apparently make up the day-to-day business of law. In the early days, I struggled with the relative intellectual deprivation of the course compared with the LLB, but I came to reconcile myself to the necessity of it and persevered bolstered by the commonality of hardship suffered by my peers.
Something I have valued highly is the continuity of studying at Strathclyde from the graduate entrant CLLB to the diploma. It meant that I already had a lot of friends and contacts from the accelerated undergrad. I was also able to continue with my Law Clinic work, so my encounters weren’t strictly limited to the perhaps otherwise cliquey diploma cohort.
Carrying over from my LLB experience is my continuing command of the Initial Advice Clinics. This is due to come to an end soon, however, as I will no longer be a student when the diploma is over. It will be weird not to be bound to every second Wednesday any longer. I might be able to go to some midweek gigs now I’d hitherto missed out on due to a sense of obligation. The duty has been gladly fulfilled, however, and it has brought me immense satisfaction to bring back the human connections of face-to-face meetings alongside Zoom calls in a hybrid format driven by client preference. I can also say I’ve increased the number of regular volunteer solicitors through my article in the Scottish Legal News and nurtured new student advisors such that I feel confident I’ll be able to leave it in capable hands.
Being so busy with the diploma recently, my opportunity for diversion has been relatively limited. In terms of gigs I’ve only been to the one this year so far – Dry Cleaning at Barrowlands – which was good, but I was quite tired after an hour and a half set that possibly could have been 50 minutes, considering they only have one album and a couple of EPs.
The Doublet and the Arlington have been the pubs I’ve ping-ponged between over the past few months. Those and the Press Bar after criminal advocacy on a Thursday. All three are what I’d describe as typically Scottish pubs. Not about food particularly; music is there but not front and centre. What’s key are chat and drink. In England, pubs are inns primarily and equal emphasis is given to ale and victuals. Press Bar is where I’ve got to know grad entrants from Glasgow uni. It was nice to have this post-class ritual end-of-week thing. Never overlong but usually longer than intended and inevitably curtailed by the hunger pangs inherent in a 6pm finish.
I’ve spent a long time in higher education. Seven years in all. I don’t think I’ll ever fully let go of the university spirit. Scholarliness. Pursuing knowledge for its own sake.
Alongside law, I’ve persisted in my nonfiction absorption by taking in ancient and modern history volumes. I’ve tried with middling success to give myself a grounding in French to supplement my German proficiency. Recently I’ve attempted to reignite my literary leanings by joining a classic book group which meets in the Mitchell Library on the first Monday of every month. We’re discussing one of my all-time favourites in April – Frankenstein.
Now we diplomats will be scattered to the wind. It won’t be quite the divergence of the MA, as Scotland limits our range by jurisdiction for most. Despite the scrappiness of the closely competitive scramble for traineeships at the diploma’s close, the fact remains that the profession here is relatively small. We will see each other again, whether as friends or adversaries or, as is the case in Scottish courtspeak, both.