As every year, first year law students at New College of the Humanities (NCH) visited the inns of court at the ‘Temple’ – the area of London where barristers traditionally receive their training. This is part of the vocational and legal careers programme (‘LAUNCH”).
The majority of law students will generally enter the profession as solicitors after graduating with the law degree (LLB) and postgraduate training the Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination (SQE from 2020 – currently the LPC or Legal Practice Course). A handful will apply to become a barrister in the hope they might be called to the bar – in order to practise in the higher courts of England and Wales, such as the Crown Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court.
NCH has close links with one of the ‘Inns’, namely Inner Temple and its education and outreach department. The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four historic Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns and early application is recommended to law students since competition in this area of legal practice is fierce.
This is an area of London (near Temple Underground Station) which not many people know about. Certainly, none of the NCH law students had ever been to this area of London, an enclave hardly touched by World War II, resembling a mini Oxford and Cambridge in the heart of London.
Students were encouraged to take the 20-minute walk to Inner Temple from the College in Bloomsbury. The walk touches on ‘Legal London’, walking through Lincolns Inn Fields, past Lincoln’s Inn, along Chancery Lane, where they would find the magnificent building of the Law Society of England and Wales with its golden gates, and The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR) where the All England and Weekly Law Reports are printed and published. They will find a wonderful window display of a snail and an opaque bottle of Ginger Beer at no 119 Chancery Lane and a jubilee printed copy of the leading case in the tort law of negligence, Donoghue v Stevenson  UKHL 100, which is freely available in the shop. Crossing Fleet Street, a narrow alleyway leads to the hidden expanse of the Middle and Inner Temple.
The students were welcomed by Struan Campbell at Inner Temple Library. The librarian explained, as she guided us through a labyrinth of alleyways and upper mezzanine registers, that they have all English and Commonwealth Law reports and indeed any printed legal text available to all practising barristers belonging to Inner Temple. NCH students were given access to the legal gateway facilitating extensive legal research to complement their legal studies by the Inner Temple online law resource portal (AccessToLaw), providing annotated links to selected UK, Commonwealth and worldwide free legal web sites. This surely would help them with their legal assignments in English Legal System, Public and EU law.
Struan then took the students to the judges’ drawing room where paintings of eminent senior judges and masters, belonging to Inner Temple, graced the walls (see photo). Struan informed students how to apply for scholarships at the inn and how to obtain pupillage in addition to apply for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). He briefly explained the history of the building and the Temple Church, going back to the 12th century, the Military Order of the Knights Templar who “built a fine round church by the Thames”, which became known as the Temple Church. That lunchtime students were able to hear an organ concert in the Temple Church and there were encouraged to return to a recital later that evening. The Inn’s judicial records date back to 1505.
Finally we were shown the great dining hall – here the wonderful lunch and dinner menu and heraldic shields of each judge were perhaps more interesting for the law students than the explanation of the various lord chancellors’ paintings on the walls (see photo).
© Photos by Ursula Smartt