JD Students Abena Asuse - Poku and Doreen Aduce-Poku won the Law Society of Northern Ireland Client Consultation Competition 2018. We caught up to them to ask them a few questions about their experience.
Can you tell us about how you found out about the competition and what training and preparation you had?
We found out about the Competition through Dr. Kevin J Brown (LLB Programmes Director) and he is our criminal law lecturer as well. One of the components of our criminal exams was made up of a Client Counselling Consultation. In every area of law, he taught us in class and all the problem scenarios we discussed, he kept hammering on the fact that we should tackle the issues as if we were advising clients and obtain as much information we could.
First of all, you need to be well versed in the related area of law. You ought to have grasped every nitty gritty of it. In our preparation we focused more on the reasoning of judges in case laws , the questions they kept asking and the key principles they always laid down as foundational.
Doreen and I had to watch a series of client counselling interviews and imagine we had that client before us, try to think of ways empathize with them if they were before us ; by considering they appropriate way of comforting a client with a good language.
What skills do you need to develop for these kinds of competitions and what is the value for your career wise?
You need to develop the value of truly listening. How you listen helps you to understand your clients’ problem and hence helps you to tailor in the required legal knowledge to meet your client’s needs.
Language – Spoken language and body language such as facial expressions, eye contact especially is very important for effective communication. Not just the spoken English language alone. How you behave with the client to engage his or her attention and emphathy matters as well.
Teamwork – Team work is very important. Especially in such a competition where there’s just two of you. It is a very small team to handle so there should be nothing that your team mate knows that you don’t know. You both should study everything together. In preparation for the competition do not share the work, this is very important. Both partners should study everything together. The roles rather should be shared based on your natural competencies and skills.
Such competitions encourage law students to be more client-centered as we are preparing to be real lawyers. It’s not just about being well versed in the law but how you can apply it to satisfy the client’s needs.
It was an excellent way for us to demonstrate our strengths that are not conveyed by law schools grades but at the same time applying the knowledge from law school in a practical way which is a crucial element for employers. We are optimistic that this skill would be a good head start for our career in law and throughout the journey.
How does it feel to win?
It is a very great and unique experience to know that you competed with other equally good teams in Northern Ireland and you came out the best. It was a real test of the foundational skills needed in handling/addressing a client’s needs and a good starting point for practical experience for our legal profession.
Are you looking forward to the completion in Maastricht?
We are definitely looking forward to Maastricht and we are very positive about it. We feel very honored to represent QUB and Northern Ireland. This is certainly a wonderful opportunity to show the world and our fellow competitors a great deal of the JD programme in Queens and the sort of training the programme is investing in its students.
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