Thoughts of a Visiting Professor: His Honour John Samue...

Thoughts of a Visiting Professor: His Honour John Samuels QC

John Samuels QCHis Honour John Samuels QC: Circuit Judge 1997 – 2006, Co-opted member Council of HM Circuit Judges, lead tutor and advocacy trainer, Lincoln's Inn. Visiting Professor, Nottingham Law School.

Can you tell us how you became a Visiting Professor?

Lincoln’s Inn, of which I have been a member for more than half a century, holds an annual dinner for law tutors. At one such dinner I sat next to an enthusiastic young lecturer at Nottingham Law School. She asked me if she could be my marshal. That was the beginning of a warm friendship. Fast forward to 2011: my friend introduced me to the Dean; and in February 2012 I found myself addressed, to my amazement, by a respectful receptionist as “Professor Samuels”.

What does your role as Visiting Professor entail?

As time went by, I was asked to deliver a few set piece talks on soft topics, such as “How to please the judge?”; and “Why do we send people to prison?”. In time I grew in confidence; more particularly when a third-year LLB student quoted back to me, with flattering accuracy, what I had said in the lecture during her first year.

My visits to Nottingham have included one-to-one advice sessions for those on the GDL and BPTC, focusing on the pursuit of pupillage and scholarship applications. Similar advice was dispensed in seminars. I expanded this role, by inviting those who wanted a more sustained mentoring relationship to apply for a slot as my mentee for the year.

Can you tell us more about this mentoring opportunity for NLS students?

Applicants are invited succinctly to explain what they hope to achieve from the role. They are told that I am a retired judge and a Visiting Professor at NLS; and they must then, by necessary implication, sell themselves convincingly. Over the years some of my mentees have, to my great pleasure, remained in contact.  A mentee who was the successful leading counsel in the inter-provider mooting championship which I observed in the Supreme Court was a high point; and we remain in touch as he embarks on pupillage.

My mentees receive focused feedback on their individual pupillage applications, as well as learning of specific educational opportunities available in their Inn of choice, of which I shall necessarily be better informed if the mentee has already joined Lincoln’s Inn.

How else have you got involved with the Nottingham Law School?

Other opportunities for engagement have included the biennial International Advocacy conference, meeting with the students from the Attorney General’s office in Malaysia who are undertaking the LLM programme in advocacy skills and also informal meetings with the Dean, Assistant Dean and senior members of the Law School.

It has also been a pleasure to meet a range of talented students at prize-giving events, such as the recent celebration of collaboration and achievement.

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