Student Society Year in Review 2022-23
With an enviable reputation for excellence, our student societies are supported by and work closely with the School and our alumni network to keep relationships with the sector alive and strong. We asked this year's presidents to outline three of their society’s greatest achievements to celebrate the great work they’ve accomplished this academic year.
Commercial Awarenss Society – Outgoing President: Max Davies
1. We increased engagement with our events
Following increased posts on our Instagram and transparent emails outlining future events, the society experienced increased engagement with our members. As reinforced at the start of the academic year, having no financial barriers to entry greatly attributed to the increased popularity of some of our events. Our increased social media presence contributed to our events gaining more traction. Although we could not host in-person events, we appreciated the engagement with the online events hosted by law firms throughout the year.
2. We expanded our network of careers events
Despite narrowing the focus, particularly on commercial law events and opportunities, this year, we expanded the breadth of events provided by working alongside US and UK firms. Hosting events with Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Jones Day, and Shearman and Sterling, we expanded the range of firm opportunities beyond the household UK law firms to cater to various career opportunities.
3. We established a bi-weekly newsletter with career opportunities
In response to feedback regarding communication of society events, we created a bi-weekly newsletter with career opportunities and upcoming events for our members. This was established in conjunction with our social media posts regarding events that set out various upcoming deadlines for internships/open days/general events that students could engage with.
Criminal Justice Society – Outgoing President: Laura Garlick
1. We hosted a CJS X ICCA Trial Advocacy Workshop
In collaboration with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy, we held an interactive workshop with Vice-Dean Christopher Kessling. Welcoming aspiring advocates, whether experienced or beginners, we ensured the event was accessible as possible by all abilities. As our first formal event of the year, it was very popular amongst both law and non-law students, and enjoyed by many!
2. We put lived experiences of the criminal justice system at the forefront of our conversations
Throughout our year, we built in the stories of those with lived experiences into our conversations of criminal justice. Through our Calling Generation Justice collaboration, we led a conversation which included Alison from the Nelson Trust about her experiences and what a broken system meant to her. Bringing to light the stories and voices of people with lived experiences of the realities of the criminal justice system is fundamental in creating conversation.
3. We held a conversation with Emily Bolton and Jamie Green from the Freshwater Five
We held a well-attended lecture with our Patron Emily Bolton from APPEAL in conversation with Jamie Green, a survivor of a grave miscarriage of justice, from the Freshwater Five. The event took shape as an interview with Jamie Green where he shared his story and the true realities of the criminal justice system. Hearing Jamie’s story was incredibly powerful and felt by all the attendees. These were incredibly impactful in in fuelling our drive to bring about change.
Lawyers Without Borders - Outgoing President: Kinga Nastal
1. We were shortlisted for the Rule of Law Innovation Competition 2023, hosted by Lawyers Without Borders at KCL
Each year, Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) holds the Rule of Law Innovation Competition in partnership with the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London, in which each student division competes to develop an educational module and materials that help support the rule of law that will subsequently be used by the LWOB in the field.
After submitting two entries from our Student Division, one of our entries was chosen to present the project in person in front of a panel of experts. The educational material in question consisted of a campaign to raise awareness of the growing number of child and forced labour in Thailand. The team consisted of Maddy McMillan, Chien Wen Siow, Alex Vincent, and Kinga Nastal.
2. Our members contributed to a research project for Lawyers Without Borders on the Rule of Law in Afghanistan
Since our inception, we have collaborated with Lawyers Without Borders to provide our members with an opportunity to get hands-on experience in human rights research, and this year was no exception. After a competitive application process, we assembled a group of students who got to work on a project that directly fed into the work of LWOB.
3. We organized various well-received human rights-related events, both online and in-person
Throughout the academic year of 2022/2023, we hosted a plethora of events pertaining to human rights and international law. Some of our events included ‘A Career in Human Rights’ with Clive Stafford-Smith OBE from the 3DCentre, ‘The Work of Nadia’s Initiative’ with Abid Shamdeen, and ‘Welcome to Lawyers Without Borders’ with Robin Taylor.
Additionally, to encourage building a community of students interested in these areas of law, we hosted additional social events, such as a special movie screening for the 35th anniversary of ‘Fourteen Days in May’ and a meet-up at the Cloakroom with coffee and cake.
Pro Bono Society – Outgoing President: Cher Roque
1. We held a Pro Bono Open Day at DLA Piper
Twenty members of our society went on an exclusive visit to the DLA Piper London office where we were hosted by Olivia Clarke (Pro Bono Senior Associate) and Tayla Boote (Trainee Solicitor). The day comprised of a talk on DLA Piper’s pro bono initiatives, a workshop based on the Ukraine Advice Project, and a Q&A featuring a panel of external lawyers from Ashurst, Freshfields, Linklaters and Shearman & Sterling. Plus, we got some delicious lunch catered by the firm!
2. We secured Freshfields' Global Head of Pro Bono as a Patron
As one of our patrons, Paul Yates visited Bristol to conduct a talk for our members. The aim was to demystify the practice of pro bono within a commercial setting, covering: (i) why and how commercial law firms maintain pro bono practices; (ii) the relationship between pro bono and access to justice; and (iii) practical examples - all delivered in an engaging discussion-based format. After the event, we were honoured to be featured on his LinkedIn where he captioned “I may be biased (as a patron of the UOB PBS), but I think you would search in vain for a more energised and effective pro bono committee”. We're still over the moon!
3. We introduced the less-explored field of Charity Law
We hosted Michele Price, Charity & Philanthropy Partner at gunnercooke LLP, and Andrew Price, legal counsel for Dogs Trust, to provide insights into the role of solicitors working in private practice and in-house for charities. Moreover, Samuel Kuo, a recent law graduate working in the marketing department of gunnercooke, shared his academic journey and delved into what the current landscape is for aspiring solicitors. We were also granted a generous sponsorship from our guest, allowing the event to be exclusively catered by Nata & Co.
Research for Change – Outgoing President: Sanskriti Bahuguna
1. We successfully affiliated with the Bristol Student Union for the first time since our inception
Our biggest goal at the outset of the year was getting affiliated with the Student union since we had been unsuccessful in this endeavour in previous years. We were successful in achieving this goal and received a silver accreditation in our very first year as a recognition for the events we put forth for our members.
2. We hosted our flagship ‘Gateway to Academia’ event
This event bought together the Faculty, PGR community, and students from all across the university. It was an opportunity for our members to learn more about the LLM opportunities at Bristol, further studies in law and learn about a career in academia. We wanted to demystify further legal education and promote accessibility by encouraging conversations about embarking on a career in academia. We were joined by Professor Charlotte Villiers, the Postgraduate Director of the Law School, and two PhD students; Mr Conor Francis and Ms Katie Richards. Our members learned from the speakers’ varied journeys into academia as a career, with a special focus on their areas of research. We were lucky to have attendees from different schools at the University such as Chemistry and Medicine with who wanted to learn more about pursuing higher studies in law.
3. We hosted several events in collaboration with the Law Commission and other law societies
We hosted several events for our members in collaboration with the Law Club, Pro Bono Society, Criminal Justice Society, and the Law Commission. These included a mix of formal and informal events. Our highlights include ‘Debate for Change’ workshops which we hosted in collabration with the 93% club and the debating committee of the UBLC. This event was centred around trying to make debating accessible to all students at the law school by running focussed debating workshops for 24 students with no prior debating experience. We also hosted the law commission with CJS for a ‘Careers event’. This was part of our bigger goal as a society to offer students alternative employment pathways to law. We were also joined by the Pro Bono Soc in hosting ‘ Rise of Charity Law’ event with speakers from Gunnercooke LLP and Dogs Trust.
Unity and Diversity in Law – Outgoing President: Ana Oris
1. We hosted Calling Generation Justice with the Law School and the Criminal Justice Society
We got the chance to interview high-profile speakers who have committed their legal careers to justice, such as Lady Hale.
2. We continued our Grassroots Programme
Our aim was to nurture the confidence of our members and increase social mobility in an attempt to level the playing field. This allowed members to learn the basics through commercial awareness and interview training.
3. We launched our mentorship programme
Second and third year mentors shared details of various schemes and tips on studying law, work experience, and university life to help first-year students make the most of their early career.