Posted by & filed under Featured Lecturer, News.

Dr Simon Sneddon, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

The Rhino Horn Auction. Shame on SA.

Later this week, South African rhino farmer (yes, that is a thing) John Hume, will be allowed to run an online auction for 264 rhino horns.

You read that correctly. Actual rhinoceros horns.

The 264 rhinoceros horns will be sold at auction. It should be made very clear here, that John Hume has approximately 1,000 rhino on his farm, and their horns are trimmed every couple of years, and allowed to grow back (LINK). According to some sources, Hume has a stash of rhino horn worth US$50m (LINK).

There is absolutely nothing illegal about what Mr Hume is doing. The rhino are not killed to dehorn them, and the South African Constitutional Court overrode the pleas of the SA Department of Environmental Affairs and conservation groups on 5th April 2017, and ended the eight year moratorium on domestic rhino horn sales in South Africa.

Any guess why?

A technicality in the consultation process.

There was a requirement in the enabling legislation (the 2004 National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act) that in order to satisfy the requirement for public participation, the consultation for the moratorium needed to be published in a national newspaper. The High Court ruled in 2015 that this was not done, and set aside the moratorium. The current case was the culmination of a series of attempted appeals to the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court.

John Hume was one of those who brought the case against the moratorium to the High Court (as he stood to lose a colossal fortune if it stayed in place). The others were Johan Krüger, and two bodies, Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) and the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA). The two bodies are so closely linked that Pelham Jones, the current Chairman of the PROA (LINK) is also the contact for the Rhino committee of the WRSA (LINK). According to a 2016 National Geographic report (LINK) by Brian Christy, Krüger is a game farmer, but has close ties to a neighbouring rancher called Dawie Groenewald:

“He and Krüger have been in the buffalo business together; they hunt together; Krüger’s photograph has appeared in Groenewald’s hunting brochures; and Krüger’s lawyer is also Groenewald’s lawyer.”

Dawie Groenewald was indicted in 2014 by the United States DOJ on charges of “conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South Africa in order to defraud American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns” (LINK). He was arrested by Interpol, and bailed in June 2017 (LINK). He had previously pleaded guilty in the USA of selling an illegal leopard hunt, and fined $30,000.

Groenewald is part of a group of 10 people who are currently facing over “1,800 charges, including racketeering, money laundering, illegal hunting of rhino, dealing in rhino horn and contravening the Biodiversity and Prevention of Organised Crime Act” (LINK). In light of the Constitutional Court’s decision, the trial has been postponed and the charge sheet amended.

Back to the sale. In addition to being available in English the site is available in Vietnamese and Mandarin, which is no great surprise as Vietnam and China are the two largest consumers of rhino horn. It is still illegal to export rhino horn from South Africa, although there is pressure being brought to change this.

I have to admit, irk me though it does, that there are several points on the auction site which seem to make initial sense, and it is all couched in very reasonable terms. However, none of them stand up to particular scrutiny – Wildlife ACT has done an excellent job of spiking the comments (LINK) and I would urge you to read their blog post.

If the statistics on poaching represent a rise in demand, then there has been an almost exponential growth. SA Department of Environmental Affairs data shows that 122 rhinoceros were poached in the whole of 2009. This had risen to 1,020 by 2014 and the trend does not look to be slowing. According to the environmental group IFAW, “[w]ithin the first six months of this year [2017], 529 rhinos were poached across South Africa” (LINK) However, as we saw with the disastrous CITES-backed sale of elephant ivory in 2009, the main impact of the same was to trigger a massive resurgence in demand for ivory, and there is no reason to suspect that will not be the case here.

What will happen to the rhino horns? Unless there is a sudden uplift for demand in the domestic South African market, the inevitable result will be that the rhino horn is smuggled to Vietnam and China. We know it, they know it. The Organised Crime groups which Mr Hume correctly states on his auction website “have control over the market and generally either team up with or threaten government officials to help them with their crimes” (LINK) will simply shift their attention from the dangerous and difficulty stage of the process (killing the rhino) to the aspect they know best (smuggling things). Organised Crime excels at smuggling – everything from people to ivory to luxury goods to guns, smuggling is the lifeblood of organised criminality.

For those involved in the auction to ignore the obvious is a deliberate tactic. It is the tactic used by everyone from the gun lobby (“guns don’t kill people, people kill people”) to those who sell essays online (“they aren’t for cheating with, just for background reading”). That is clearly a fatuous argument – people don’t buy a 9mm handgun for decoration or pre-written essays for research purposes, any more than the Vietnamese and Chinese buyers of this rhino horn will start hosting horn parties in Johannesburg or Pretoria.

What no-one is saying is that the auction is illegal.

What many people (bar the vendors and purchasers) are saying that it is utterly inexcusable that this action is not illegal.


Posted by & filed under Featured Lecturer, News.

Dr Simon Sneddon, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

A couple of weeks ago, the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that in 2016/17 there had been six fatal shootings by police, double the number in 2015/16. The 2016/17 figures also included the shooting of the Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood.

In addition to the police shootings, there were 32 deaths in police road traffic accidents, and fourteen deaths in police custody.

This means that, in total, the Police were responsible for the deaths of 52 people. This is quite a high figure, and every death brings with it shock, grief and suffering for family, friends and the wider community.

However, there will be those, inevitably, who say that the media is over reacting, and that the UK figure is comparatively low.

What I thought I would do is to look at the figures for other countries, and put the figures into some kind of context.  More or less at random, I’m going to contrast the figures with the United States, since I had the information on my desk while updating a session for next year.

The UK

The UK has a population of 65.6 million (ONS, 2017), and in an average year just over 520,000 people die for various reasons (it was 525,048 in 2016, and 529,900 in 2015). That makes the police responsible for 0.01% of deaths – so one in 10,000. Fatal shootings by the police account for just over 1 in 100,000 deaths.

The Home Office says that there were 559,302 firearms in the UK in 2016/17 (covered by 154,958 firearms certificates) (LINK). That gives a rate of 8 firearms per 100,000 people. These are predominantly in rural areas – Devon & Cornwall, Sussex and North Yorkshire police between them issued 24,812 certificates (16%), and only three were issues in the City of London. There are, of course, many unlicensed firearms in circulation – no-one is sure how many, but Professor Peter Squires was quoted in the Daily Mirror in March 2016 as saying there may be “around 500,000 illegal firearms on Britain’s streets.”[1]

The ONS (LINK) says that there were 571 homicides in the UK in 2015/16, of which 26 (4.5%) were caused by shooting – three by the police and 23 by others.

This then is our baseline – and we’ll use 2015/16 data, as the 2016/17 data has not all been released yet.



The United States has a population of 323.1 million, almost five times higher than the UK. The death rate is around 2.7 million a year, which is actually very slightly higher than that in the UK (see table). If we were to expect to see the same death rate per head of population from police shootings, we would be expecting around 30. In fact, in 2016, US Police fatally shot 963 people.[2] In 2015 it was 991.[3] If we factor in different data from the Guardian’s Counted programme (LINK), it shows the number of people killed by police in total in 2016 was 1,093.

As a proportion of all deaths, those caused by the police run at around 0.04 per cent, so just over four times higher than in the UK. If we narrow it down to fatal police shootings, then the rate is 35.6 per 100,000 deaths, so over 35 times higher than the rate in the UK.

Gun ownership in the United States is a contentious issue, and I do not intend to go into the details here. What is interesting to note, is that no-one seems entirely sure how many legally-held firearms there are in the USA. The Congressional Research Service estimated that there were 300 million weapons in 2012,[4] and research carried out for the Guardian newspaper and the Trace[5] in 2016 suggests the number is closer to 265m.[6] Either way, this represents substantially higher gun ownership rates than in the UK.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 18,394 firearms were reported as being lost or stolen in 2016,[7] which raises further questions for another post.

According to the Centre for Disease Control,[8] there were 15,872 homicides in the United States in 2014, and firearm related homicides accounted for 11,008 of these.


Summary table (using 2015 data)




Per 100,000


Per 100,000

Overall Death Rate 520k 700 2.7m 800
Homicides 571 0.87 15,872 4.91
Homicides by shooting 26 0.03 11,008 3.4
Homicides by police shooting 3 0.0045 991 0.31
Gun Ownership – number 560k 265m
Gun Ownership – percentage of population 0.8% 82%
Life expectancy 81.2yrs 79.3yrs
GDP per Capita ($PPP)[9] 42,418 57,436
Living below poverty line (as defined nationally)[10] 15% 15.1%



There are massive inherent risks with drawing comparisons between two countries in the way I have just done. None of the cultural differences have been factored in (particularly the 2nd amendment right to bear arms in the US Constitution), but the headline figures do raise some striking differences.

The populations of both countries are shuffling off their mortal coils at almost exactly the same rate – 0.8% in the USA and 0.7% in the UK, and at more or less the same time (life expectancy figures are similarly distributed). Probably (but this is a blog post, not a full-blown academic article) there is a difference in these figures if ethnicity and other variables are factored in.

Both countries have almost exactly the same proportion living below the poverty line, 15% for the UK and 15.1% for the USA. This is not, it should be noted the $1.90 or $3.10 a day World Development Indicator version of poverty (where both countries are ranked at zero), but the national definition of poverty. Again, factor in ethnicity and other factors, and the results will granulate.

What remains is the fact that there are 70 times more fatal shootings by police per head of population in the USA than there are in the UK.

Does this mean that we should view the UK’s figures with complacency?

Absolutely not. The maelstrom after each police shooting only serves to ensure they do not become the norm.

We are a (generally) unarmed country with a (generally) unarmed police force. For all of their bombast and rhetoric about the 2nd amendment “guaranteeing safety” Americans are 100 times more likely to own a legally registered gun than we are, and (coincidentally, no doubt) are 100 times more likely to shoot each other dead than we are. They are also 70 times more likely to be shot dead by the police.

Routinely arming the police force might feel like a good political move for the beleaguered government, and might indeed help to limit the impact of future terrorist attacks (though not the likelihood).

What we really need is intelligence-led, proactive policing, with better funding, and better research into how and why illegal firearms are getting into the country.

[1] Aspinall, A., 2016, There are 4 MILLION guns on UK streets – and 4,000 youngsters have shotgun licences, the Mirror, 20 March 2016, at The figure includes antique weapons and wartime memorabilia. The 4 million figure seems to be based on inclusion of possible weapons left over after the troubles in northern Ireland, and of those in Scotland. The confusion arises because the 500,000 figure is related to “Britain” – which includes Scotland.

[5]  “an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States”

[6] Becket, L., 2016, Gun inequality: US study charts rise of hardcore super owners, the Guardian, 19 September 2016,  at

Posted by & filed under News.

Kate Exall, senior Lecturer in Law writes:

On July 26th the Supreme Court gave its long awaited decision on the legality of the introduction of fees to bring and pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal.  Fees were introduced in 2013 with the aims of transferring some of the costs of running the service to those who use it, discouraging what the government called “weak and vexatious” claims and encouraging out of court conciliation through ACAS[1].

The costs of bringing a claim depend on whether it is a relatively easy claim (Type A) for things such as wages not being paid correctly, or for what the government felt were more complex claims (Type B) such as discrimination, equal pay or unfair dismissal.  Type A claims cost in total £390 and for Type B £1200.  Unison challenged the validity of the introduction of fees arguing that the level of fees prevented access to justice and breached UK and EU law as well as being indirectly discriminatory against women, who they said were more likely to bring Type B claims.

The Decision

Last month the Supreme Court agreed with them on every point overturning the previous decisions which had upheld the validity of charging fees.  In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court were scathing of the government’s attempts to justify the introduction of fees and the sacrifices that the government expected people to make to be able to enforce their rights.  In essence they said that employment rights are not just of benefit to the employee but that there is a public interest in those rights being enforceable.

They held that the charging of fees is unlawful under both EU and domestic law as it prevents access to justice.  They said that the charging of fees has the practical effect of making it unaffordable to exercise statutory rights or makes it futile or irrational to do so in some cases.

This article looks at some of the arguments raised by the government to defend its policy and how the Supreme Court dealt with them.  Reference was made in the judgement to the Government’s Review of Fees which was published in January 2017[2].

The Government’s Arguments and the Court’s Response

  1. Fees don’t deter access to justice on affordability grounds as people should sacrifice non essential expenditure to save the money to pay for the fees.

Response:  People should not be expected to fall below a reasonable standard of living to afford fees.  They accepted the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Figures for Minimum Incomes[3] holding that people should not be expected to sacrifice normal expenditure on eg clothes and entertainment to be able to access justice.

“Fees must therefore be affordable not in a theoretical sense, but in the sense that they can reasonably be afforded. Where households on low to middle incomes can only afford fees by sacrificing the ordinary and reasonable expenditure required to maintain what would generally be regarded as an acceptable standard of living, the fees cannot be regarded as affordable.”[4]

  1. The higher the fees are the more effective the system is.

Response:  where the costs of bringing a case exceed or are similar to the amount claimed, this acts as a deterrent to bringing a claim.  So a person bringing a claim for unpaid wages would have to pay £390 to recover them.  If the amount of unpaid wages is less than that, then it makes it uneconomical to take legal action.

Whilst costs orders can be made if a claimant is successful, the Supreme Court noted that only half of successful claimants got paid in full with one third not recovering any money.  This means that it would be futile or irrational for people in such cases to bring a claim,[5] which in turn denies access to justice.

The government should have followed “elementary economics” in setting the fees and thought about what the optimum cost would be to achieve the highest revenue.  With the Government’s own review in 2017[6] noting a “sharp and sustained fall” in claims, the Supreme Court felt that:

“It has not been shown that less onerous fees, or a more generous system of remission, would have been any less effective in meeting the objective of transferring the cost burden to users”[7].

  1. There was no conclusive proof that the “sharp and sustained fall” in claims to a Tribunal[8] was linked to the introduction of fees.

Response: In order for fees to be lawful they have to be set at a rate that people can afford.   There does not have to be conclusive evidence that there is a link; a real risk suffices.  The Court held that:

“The fall in the number of claims has in any event been so sharp, so substantial, and so sustained as to warrant the conclusion that a significant number of people who would otherwise have brought claims have found the fees to be unaffordable”[9]

  1. It is lawful to charge more for Type B cases as they are more complex and time consuming, so the cost should be greater.  Therefore it is not discriminatory to charge higher fees for these claims.

Response: The government needed justify the higher cost of Type B claims such as discrimination by linking it to the aims of introducing the fees eg deterring weak claims, transferring costs or encouraging conciliation.  The Court found that there was no link to any of the aims saying that ultimately the fees acted as a deterrent and that there was no incentive on an employer to settle the case.[10]  As more women than men brought Type B claims, the higher fees generally had a disparate effect which the government could not justify.  This was held to be discriminatory and breached the EU objective of achieving equality in the workplace and particularly gender equality.[11]

Rresponse to the Supreme Court decision

The government has confirmed that it will immediately stop charging fees and they have put in hand the necessary changes to the system to allow for this.   They have also promised to start reimbursing claimants fees paid since 2013.

Unsurprisingly the employers’ federations have been critical of the judgement with Mike Spicer, director of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the ruling would leave “employers concerned about a return to the past, when despite winning the majority of cases, companies would often settle to avoid a costly and protracted process even when their case was strong”[12].


The Supreme Court decision is a welcome restatement of fundamental principles surrounding access to justice and is a potent reminder of the limitations on the government’s power to act as it pleases. It is good to see a common sense and pragmatic approach being applied to cut through the government’s technical arguments and uphold the rights of ordinary employees.   Whilst employers may be concerned about the possibility of weak and vexatious claims, it is equally important that employees have an independent forum available to them to resolve employment disputes.   Whilst fees were in force the employers held the upper hand and could effectively act as they wished with impunity knowing that many employees could not afford to take litigate or that it was not cost effective to do so.

However amid the sounds of jubilation a note of caution; whilst the government’s response is to be welcomed, it may not be the end of the line for fees.  The Supreme Court left the door open for a revised Fee Order to be introduced and Lady Hale even gave guidance to the government to avoid any potential discrimination in a replacement Order[13].  They also hinted that lower fees might have achieved their objectives in transferring costs to the user.[14]  Adding fuel to the fire, Dominic Raab the Justice Minister said

“The tricky, the difficult, the fluid balancing act that we’ve got is we want to make sure there’s proper access to justice, we want to make sure frivolous or spurious claims don’t clog up the tribunal and at the same time we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right way to fund it.”[15]

Watch this space…..


[1] Resolving Workplace Disputes: A consultation 2011BIS

[2] Review of the Introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals 2017 available at date accessed August 2nd 2017.

[3] A minimum income standard for the UK in 2017.  Date accessed August 2nd 2017

[4] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 93 per Reed LJ

[5] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 96 per Reed LJ

[6] Review of the Introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals 2017 available at date accessed August 2nd 2017.

[7] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 100 per Reed LJ

[8]  Review of the Introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals 2017 available at date accessed August 2nd 2017.

[9]R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 91 per Reed LJ

[10] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 129 per Hale LJ

[11] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 129 per Hale LJ

[12] The Guardian “Ministers vow to end Employment Tribunal Fees after court defeat” 27th July 2017.  Available at

[13] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 121 per Hale LJ

[14] R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent) 2017 UKSC 51 Para 100 per Reed LJ

[15]“BBC “Employment Tribunal Fees unlawful Supreme Court Rules” July 27th 2017.  Available at  Date accessed August 2nd 2017.

Posted by & filed under Featured Lecturer.

Dr Melanie Crofts and Dr Kimberley Hill write:

In July we were lucky to have had the opportunity to attend a conference with a very different   atmosphere and ethos to most other academic conferences we had attended.  This was the second Building Bridges conference which had been organised and the outlook of the conference organisers was clear from the start.  There was to be no use of academic titles, all papers presented were regarded as keynote addresses and the money which was raised went to supporting Afghan child refugees in Greece and took them on theatre trips and excursions.  When we arrived to register you were asked to choose a name badge which most reflected you.

In addition, there was also a gift which was made as a memento of the conference by the refugee children which the conference was supporting.

We were struck by the informal, friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the conference right from the start.  The papers we saw also did not disappoint and there a number of practical papers which were focused on the need to build bridges to tackle current and pressing issues, such as racism, discrimination and challenging perceptions around migration!  There were papers and discussions on whether there should be open borders and what can be done to reframe the discourses around vulnerability, dependency as well as the racism and negative perceptions of forced migrants and there was a clear call for activism and protest (see Law blog post from 24/7).  We also heard papers which explored the use of mobile phones by refugees, particularly when their security was under threat and the paper demonstrated that the networks which refugees build are hugely complex and solidarity is absolutely key for survival.  There were also papers on dignity and religion in refugee camps and the need to allow refugees to access their religious practices, the representation of women on company boards in Turkey, sexual violence on campuses in South Africa, the role of school security guards in Israel and racism and resistance in Germany.

We were proud to have our paper accepted as a keynote at such an important conference and we felt our paper, Consent on Campus – Challenging Gender Based Violence, clearly fitted well within the aims and ethos of the conference and its Changemaker nature.  We were building bridges across subject areas as well as institutions (both within the UK and across the globe) as there had been a lot of discussion around gender based violence and discrimination as well as papers which took a cross disciplinary approach/perspective.  We got some amazing feedback on our paper and as a result we have been asked whether we could provide information about I *Heart* Consent Week to people who would like to run something similar in their own institutions.  This included institutions in the UK, USA and two in South Africa!!

Sexual harassment and assault on university campuses is not a new concern, but a widespread, world-wide issue (NUS, 2014; Universities UK, 2016; Association of American Universities, 2015). Universities are significant sites for action, but unfortunately there is a limited profile of work on gender-based violence within the UK (Public Health England, 2016; Phipps & Smith, 2012). The National Union of Students’ (NUS) ‘Hidden Marks’ survey (2014) was one of the first nationwide surveys which focused on women’s experiences and the gendered nature of sexual violence and assaults in Higher Education (HE). This research suggested 68%, or one in four women, have been subjected to sexual violence. As well as highlighting the prevalence of women subjected to unwanted sexual violence or harassment, this work identified the prevalence of ‘lad culture’ within higher education.  Not only can this have a detrimental impact on student wellbeing and academic attainment, but universities have a duty to provide safe and positive university experiences.

There is a clear need for action in this area and, as a campus of Changemakers, we wanted to start our own cross-campus, inter-disciplinary conversations about consent.  It is with this context in mind that I *Heart* Consent Week was developed at the University of Northampton as a week of actions aimed at awareness raising and challenging normative concepts of consent and sexual violence. The I Heart Consent campaign fits within the Changemaker agenda at the University of Northampton as it seeks to empower students to make real change and create a positive social impact as well as raising awareness of an important social issues and encourages the institution to take incidents of sexual violence and harassment seriously.

The approach which has been taken when organising this week of action has been very much influenced by research interests and activism in terms of the equality agenda.  The ethos of the week has drawn heavily on concepts which have been coined by Critical Race Theorists and the importance of giving a voice to oppressed groups and to listen to their experiences of oppression and discrimination.  This is also an important element of feminist theory and the week is organised from the perspective that there has to be a gendered approach to the issues of sexual violence and consent.  This does not mean that the experiences of male victims are to be dismissed, but that as the vast majority of victims are women and women’s issues are not high on the political agenda, the focus of this week is on primarily female victims of violence.

The first I Heart Consent week ran in 2015.  The idea came about because we started to teach consent in Criminal Law module and it became apparent that there were a lot of misunderstandings around issues of consent and that prevailing attitudes among students tended to be from a perspective of victim blaming, particularly when alcohol was involved.  However, there were a number of female students who disclosed after the session their experiences of sexual harassment and the ‘Lad Culture’ at the University of Northampton which were not out of line with the findings in the research the NUS had undertaken.  This was an opportunity to harness the student voice and to involve students in the discussions around sexual violence and consent.  It was really important that students, male and female, were given an opportunity to express their views and discuss issues in a safe and supportive environment. The involvement of other organisations who provide support services has meant that ensuring that appropriate and confidential support during I *Heart* Consent Week has grown in importance.

If you want to know more about the challenges of organising I *Heart* Consent Week as well as some of the activities which were run in that week and the results of the questionnaire we gave to students looking at their perceptions of consent, we are presenting our paper at the Approaches to Inequalities: Whose Business is it? Conference on the 20th September at the University of Northampton.  Come along and find out more…

Future Implications/Work:

The work at the University of Northampton looking at issues of sexual violence, harassment and consent, is ongoing.  Following the UUK Taskforce report into sexual violence on campuses, HEFCE released funding from the Catalyst Fund to try and address some of the issues highlighted in the UUK report.  The University of Northampton was one of 60 institutions to successfully bid for this money and the project has just started.  The aims of the project are:

-     To develop existing and new institutional policies and strategies to support students in reporting harassment, sexual abuse, sexual violence and hate crime.

-     To develop a student led collaborative initiative to identify what currently happens when disclosures are made, what good practice exists and how existing practice can be enhanced.

-     To use the insights to produce a robust policy and training for staff for when disclosures take place and to develop a package of support for staff to enable appropriate and effective responses to the disclosures of harassment, hate crime, sexual abuse and sexual violence.

-     To ensure that the frameworks and training packages developed are suitable for delivery at the university’s new urban campus, in particular taking into account a new campus environment and changes to the accessibility of staff.

It is hoped that the findings from this research will be disseminated in a number of ways and that we will be able to bring the research and I *Heart* Consent week together.  In addition, it is proposed that the University of Northampton run a joint sexual violence symposium with the University of Chester once the HEFCE projects are complete to share good practice and experiences.

Finally, the next I *Heart* Consent week planning is already well underway and we have increased interest from local voluntary sector organisations as well as the police.  We hope that the experiences from these projects will ensure that we can develop robust responses to issues around sexual violence, harassment and consent.


Association of American Universities (2015) Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, AAU:

Burkett, M., & Hamilton, K. (2012). Postfeminist sexual agency: Young women’s negotiations of sexual consent.Sexualities, 15(7), 815–833.

National Union of Students (2014) Hidden Marks: a study of women students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault, NUS:

Phipps, A. and Smith, G. (2012) Violence against women students in the UK: time to take action. Gender and Education, 24 (4). pp. 357-373. ISSN 0954-0253

Phipps, A. and Young, I. (2013) That’s what she said: women students’ experiences of ‘lad culture’ in higher education.Project Report. National Union of Students, London.

Phipps, A. and Young, I. (2015) Neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’ in higher education. Sociology, 49 (2). pp. 305-322. ISSN 0038-0385

Phipps, Alison (2016) (Re)theorising laddish masculinities in higher education. Gender and Education. pp. 1-16. ISSN 1360-0516

Public Health England (2016). A review of evidence for bystander intervention to prevent sexual and domestic violence in universities.

Universities UK (2016) Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students, Universities UK:


Posted by & filed under Student Voice.

Dr Simon Sneddon, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

Last Tuesday saw the graduation ceremony for our Law students – single honours, joint honours and postgraduate.

The Law team were, as ever, well-represented at the event, with Dr Jim Davies, Mick Sumpter, Sarah Willis, Dr Simon Sneddon, Dr Melanie Crofts, Nicola Smithers, Kate Exall, Sophie Lomas and Dr Ebenezer Laryea as well as our graduate tutors Becky Barrick and Isabel Evans all processing onto the stage.

Photo: Jim Davies


Student Union Vice President for Union Development, David Lewis, presented Dr Simon Sneddon with the Student Teaching and Recognition Awards’ “NILE Best Practice” award to enthusiastic applause.

The main event was the graduation of the students, several of whom had been awarded prizes:

  • The Shoosmiths Prize for Outstanding Overall Contribution:  Bhavish Chutturdharry
  • The Northamptonshire Law Society Prize for the Best Student in Year 3:  Clare Wilkie
  • The Oxford University Press Prize for Academic Achievement:  Bhavish Chutturdharry
  • Julia Pick Memorial Prize:  Heshmy Chutturdharry
  • The Sweet & Maxwell Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation in Law:  Teodor Ontanu
  • The Max Engel Memorial Bursary: Clare Wilkie

In addition the prizes awarded to those who were graduating, other prizes were awarded to student who are continuing with tier studies:

  • Oxford University Press Law Trove Prize for 2016/17: Valeria Mironov
  • Shoosmiths Prize for Best Student in Year 2 in 2016/17: Lauren Hamper
  • Shoosmiths Prize for Best Student in Year 1 in 2016/17: Zerish Ditta and Katie Johnson

The law team would like to congratulate all graduates and prize winners on their achievements, and would encourage everyone to keep in touch in the future (and send us your photos!).

Posted by & filed under Student Voice.

Teodor Ontaru, LLB Graduate 2017, writes

As a child, I was fascinated with history, particularly the medieval period of Europe. When I grew up, I was disappointed to find that there were little to no substitutes for the romantic aspects that I associated with my favourite historical periods. I realized that while many symbolic elements from the age of chivalry still carry some value even today, the transition from one age to another has left them bereft of that mystical aura of respect. Kings have been reduced to touristic attractions while knights have abandoned their gothic armour for suits and ties.

And yet there is one element that, at least in my perception, inspires the same level of reverence today as it did 400 years ago, and that element is capital punishment. Whether seeing an execution in The Tudors or in a modern American police drama, there is a level of ‘romanticism’ (for lack of a better word) that appears to have been carried over directly from a bygone age. The act of capital punishment appears as a display of solemn force, a force that has survived the drastic changes of mentality throughout history. To me, not even warfare ­– an act that leads to the death of significantly more people every year ­­–­ can claim the same dark solemnity of an execution. The only other element of modern human society capable of offering a similar sense of ‘ancient’ awe is religion. My dissertation tries to prove that the modern implementation of capital punishment is influenced by hidden elements that have a ‘mystical’ foundation.

This idea lends itself to the abolitionist side of the death penalty argument, merely because most states that still carry out executions claim to do so on a secular and legal basis. I chose to take an abolitionist perspective (though not necessarily an abolitionist stance) because it seemed the most practical way of exposing the ‘unavowed’ interests that influence the current implementation of the death penalty.

The debate surrounding capital punishment is a broad and deep one, with many arguments presented by both sides. I focused on the least used arguments: the principled ones. I had multiple reasons for doing this. Utilitarian-like arguments such as the economic efficiency of execution have been thoroughly explored before, and I wanted to bring a fresher perspective on the whole debate. Furthermore, there is some scientific evidence which claims that principled arguments, like the notion of the sanctity of all human life, have a higher chance of persuading members of the general public rather than utilitarian arguments.

As such, my dissertation focuses on the principled argument formulated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida, which claims that capital punishment is rooted in hidden theological concepts. Derrida infers this idea from the writings of Immanuel Kant, whom he nominates as the person that has put forward the strongest principled argument in favour of capital punishment. Kant is considered to be a highly influential philosopher, so his theory on capital punishment is likely to have impacted the penalty’s implementation. A first point to support this is the emphasis Kant puts on murder as being the only crime which can be punishable by death – current implementations of the death penalty require that the condemned be found guilty of intentionally killing someone.

Derrida builds his argument by attacking Kant’s theory from within. The centrepiece of the Kantian philosophic system is reason – it is reason that separates humans from animals. To Kant, each person has inherent value because of their capacity to reason. A human being that kills another human being acts against their natural reason. Society not only has the right to execute such a murderer, in Kant’s view it is imperative that it does so.

Before Kant, most philosophers tried to explain concepts like morality by making reference to external elements – such as Plato’s ‘divine plane’ or the Christian God. Kant is often accredited with being the first philosopher to develop an extensive deontological theory based on an element that is internal to humans – reason. As such, he is often seen as one of the first philosophers to argue for capital punishment solely on secular grounds.

Kant’s focus on reason becomes highlighted when he discusses capital punishment. According to him, murder is the highest betrayal of not only the murderer’s individual reason, but the reason of human society itself. Therefore, society must execute the person guilty of murder – if it cannot, then that society will collapse.

This side of Kant’s theory is very similar to how Freud explains the origin of the taboo on murder. Freud claims that the taboo on murder appeared in the primitive humans after a father was killed by his son. The death of the father became a symbol of guilt, and that guilt was seen as a bringing ill fortune to the entire tribe. The only way to wash away that guilt was with the blood of the murderer.

This bears a strong similarity to the concept of bloodguilt (a word Kant uses multiple times) from the Old Testament. Bloodguilt is the concept of blood binding the murderer with the guilt of his victim. The idea of talionic law originates from here. Blood for blood is a concept that Kant is openly fond of in when talking about murder – even though he presents his theory as purely secular.

Kant generally believed that punishment should follow the crime, though only in the case of murder those he insist that only blood can wash blood. In his view, executing a murderer in order to prevent further victims is not a valid reason – the sole reason for his execution must be the crime, not any practical benefit the execution may bring to society at large.

Kant presents capital punishment as an automatic mechanism – an execution must follow every murder, regardless of context and irrespective of the state’s disposition for clemency. Capital punishment is presented as process demanded by a reason which acts in an almost divine manner, punishing every murder without fault with the precision of a thunderbolt. And yet to Kant, the very essence of rational society depends upon this automated process – Kant seems to unconsciously fear the primitive idea that the blood of the victim will bring ill fortune to the entire tribe unless justice is served.

The execution of Jesus Christ is a centre point for most Christian traditions. The death of the Son absolves the entire humanity of the primordial sin perpetrated by Adam and Eve. And while Adam and Eve did not commit murder, their disobedience towards their creator could be seen as equally condemnable – the Bible mentions that one who disrespects his parents should be put to death. Christian religion implies that the only way to remove the guilt of that sin was by execution.

The link between Kant, Christianity and the current implementation of capital punishment is not entirely clear, but I found satisfying evidence that there is a link. That evidence is presented at large in my full dissertation, but an example would be the usage of Kantian discourse in the judgements of some US Supreme Court Justices when deciding capital punishment cases.

This link reveals that there are non-secular elements which still influence capital punishment even today. And while that may not be wrong by itself, it does appear out of place in a justice system that claims to be driven by secular ideals.


This is the first blog post in an invited series by our graduating LLB students, based on their dissertations.

Posted by & filed under Featured Lecturer.

Dr Melanie Crofts, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

Over the past few weeks I have been really lucky to have had the opportunity to attend a number of conferences and events where there was an equality theme and/or a strong equality ethos. For me, the coming together of equality practitioners, scholars and activists is really important as equality work is often not given priority, misunderstood and sometimes even actively opposed. Therefore, having the opportunity to speak to others about their research and experiences and reminding yourself that others are facing similar barriers is a real morale boost.

However, there was one keynote which really stood out for me and this was delivered at the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion conference at Brunel University by Dr Oscar Holmes IV, Assistant Professor of Management, Rutgers University School of Business at the University of Alabama. His keynote focused on the issue of activism and in particular the necessity to move beyond mere equality scholarship to also being passionately involved in equality activism.

He identified 3 key ways of ‘doing’ scholarship-activism:

  • First is the need to translate equality research for the general public through, for example, blog posts, the media and social media. There can sometimes be a tendency for academics to sit in ivory towers and conduct research with their primary focus of publishing in peer reviewed journals or producing official reports. Although clearly there is a need to publish work in academic outlets and there is also a requirement to consider quality measures such as the REF (Research Excellence Framework), often research published in this way only reaches a small, elite, audience. In fairness, the REF does consider the impact of research and it defines impact as: “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.” Therefore, getting research out beyond the academic world and demonstrating its impact on wider society is an important element of scholarship-activism. It should, however, be noted that activism goes beyond so called ‘social media activism’, and this leads onto the next point.
  • Second is the partnering with activist groups. The suggestion was made to seek out groups already in existence and providing active support, for example the well-established #BlackLivesMatter campaign, Stand up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism etc. However, the point was made that scholar-activists should listen to these organisations/campaigns to find out where the need is first and then see where they can make a contribution. However, Dr Holmes did highlight the potential consequences of being a scholar-activist and joining some of these groups, such as issues around tenure and career progression as well as the possibility of arrests and being physically hurt. However, the point which was made really strongly is that how can someone call themselves a diversity/equality scholar if they are not willing to actively fight for oppressed people? Hear, hear!!
  • The final element of scholar-activism was the requirement to call out respectability politics. What Dr Holmes meant by respectability politics was the phenomenon of oppressed groups attempting to appear more acceptable to the dominant groups. I have also heard a similar theory provided by Critical Race Theorists who have described the adoption of a working identity. The concept that Black people have to become more ‘White’ to fit in and get on. Dr Holmes argued that this is used as a tool to separate out ‘respectable’ and ‘common’ Black people. Those who ‘fit in’ and adapt/adopt the dominant norms and those who do not. In the US context he explained this as drawing a distinction between different ‘kinds’ of African Americans. However, respectability politics dismisses the real reasons for oppression and lets the dominant group ‘off the hook’, it is a tool of white supremacy to keep Black people oppressed. This is why it should be resisted and called out.

Dr Holmes also pointed out that it is not just Black people who adopt respectability politics, but that diversity/equality scholars can also ‘fall foul’ of this. He highlighted the examples of scholars who are quick to turn a blind eye to inequalities or who endorse false equivalencies in order to further their own careers, seem ‘respectable’ or to earn what he termed ‘conciliatory brownie points’. In simplistic terms, I would call it hypocrisy and I agree, this too needs to be challenged.

All in all, I found Dr Holmes’ keynote inspiring and motivational. So now for my reflections on my own scholarship-activism.

I have a long way to go, both in terms of my scholarship and my activism and therefore I certainly do not claim to be approaching this with any amazing insight or great authority. However, I have been developing both my scholarship and my activism in the areas of equality, diversity and migrant rights. I hope to publish in peer reviewed journals on these issues in the not too distant future and I already blog/tweet about my work, and that of others, and try and make my scholarship more accessible.

But I have also realised that words alone are not enough. I need to develop my activism further. I am Chair of the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, (NREC) I sit on the Northamptonshire Football Association (NFA) Inclusion Advisory Group and I also work with the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) on Athena SWAN. I attend the yearly ‘Stand up to Racism’ demo, I have attended a number of demos against the detention of women at Yarls Wood Detention Centre, I have been on anti-austerity marches and stood on the picket line in protest at unequal pay in Higher Education. However, my activism is ad hoc and I feel quite detached from the grass roots. I need to think about how my activism could be more impactful and I need to do what Dr Holmes suggested and talk to and listen to grass roots campaigns to see how I could make a more effective difference. I also have to consider carefully where my efforts should be placed and where I am likely to find support in progressive activism. As an example of this, I have recently decided to resign from my Union (UCU) due to the refusal to support the local branch in dealing which some quite important and fundamental equality issues which would require intervention from UCU nationally. In addition, the apparent rolling back of pressure on Higher Education Institutions to act in relation to the gender pay gap has meant that, in additional to some local issues, I have had to make the difficult decision to focus my activism elsewhere.

Finally is the calling out of respectability politics. This is probably the most difficult aspect for me. I would probably extend this to include challenging inequality and discrimination in addition to highlighting problematic respectability politics and hypocrisy. It isn’t so much the challenging I have a problem with, I think I do this consistently at my own institution as well as with the NFA and other organisations and agencies, such as the police, in my NREC role. However, it becomes even more difficult when you have to challenge people closer to home; family, friends and colleagues. I do challenge, but this has had personal consequences. Loss of friendships, upsetting family members, and feeling let down by people you thought knew better. However, calling people out is important and the challenge for me is how to maintain the momentum and not become despondent. For advice regarding this I turn again to Dr Holmes who suggested that we can draw strength by reminding ourselves that generations of people have fought these battles, often in appalling circumstances, and ones I am unlikely to ever experience myself (slavery, apartheid, segregation, criminalisation, fighting for suffrage, riots etc).

Therefore as equality activists it is important to remember that “we can survive this”!

Posted by & filed under News.

Karen Lawson, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

In Graduation week, many of our students will be leaving University and embarking on the first step of their professional careers. Many more students will be applying for training contracts or pupillages to start once they have completed the vocational stage of their studies. In this Blog article, Law Lecturer Karen Lawson gives some practical advice for those students about to attend a job interview or start a new job.

Laying the groundwork

Before attending any job interview, it is essential that you do some research into the firm or organisation that you have applied to work for.

For students applying for a training contract at a law firm, you will need to find out:

  • What sort of work the firm does and what areas of law do they cover? For instance, does the firm cover a broad range of areas or do they specialise in just one or two? Does the firm deal with the type of law that you are interesting in working in once qualified as a solicitor?

This is important because there is no point you talking about your passion for fighting miscarriages of justice at the interview, if the firm you have applied to does not do any criminal law work.

  • What type of clients does the firm have?

Some firms will have a range of clients both individuals and companies, while others will act only for individuals or only for large companies. Often the range of clients reflects the type of work the firm does, for example firms which specialise in commercial and corporate work will only act for companies whereas firms which specialise in criminal or family law will only act for individuals.

  • Is the firm ranked in the Legal 500 and if so, what is their ranking and what area of law is it for?

The Legal 500 is a directory of law firms which ranks them in order of excellence and expertise. Many firms prize their listing and it is likely to impress your interviewer if you know the firm’s ranking.

Students applying for a pupillage will need to undertake a similar level of research into the chambers that they have applied to and make sure that the areas of law covered by the chambers matches your interests.

Time management

It is essential that you arrive on time for your job interview or for your first day at work. Arriving late and in a fluster will not create a good impression!

To avoid this happening make sure that you:

  • Do a dummy run of how you are going to travel to the firm or organisation where the interview or job is. If you can, do this in the morning rush hour so you know exactly how long it will take you to get there rather than relying on the time estimate from Google maps!

By doing the journey before the day of the interview or first day at work, means that not only will you get a good sense of how long it takes to get there but it will mean that you are less nervous about the journey on the day itself.

  • Make sure that you arrive early. For those attending a job interview, aim to arrive at your prospective employers about an hour before the actual interview to allow for any delays on route such as a late train[1] or a traffic jam.

Arriving early will also give you time to read through any preparation notes you have made and check your appearance.[2]

  • Get up early. Make sure you set an alarm the night beforehand   and if you are a heavy sleeper or tend to automatically hit the ‘snooze’ button, set two alarms!

The last thing you want is to be rushing around in the morning and forget to take your preparation notes or the address you are going to with you.


Questions and answers

If you are preparing for a job interview, you not only need to research the law firm or organisation you have applied to, but you also need to prepare for the type of questions that you are likely to be asked.

If you applied for the job by completing an application form, make sure that you are familiar with what you wrote in it.[3]

It is also a good idea to prepare answers to the type of questions you are likely to be asked at the interview. Common questions that are often asked in interviews include:

  • Why did you study law?
  • Why do you want to become a solicitor?  (or barrister ?)
  • Why do you want to work for this firm? (or join this chambers?)
  • What is your main strength or weakness?[4]

You may also be asked questions where you have to give an example of how you can demonstrate a particular skill. For these type of questions, the STAR technique can assist you to structure your answer:

  • Situation – give context.
  • Task – describe the challenge, why you were facing it, and the expectations of that challenge.
  • Action – describe what you did and how you did it.
  • Results – explain what they were and how you quantified them (e.g. did you obtain some recognition, make any savings?).[5]


Look the part

Many law firms and Barrister’s chambers will have strict dress codes which require individuals to wear ‘professional dress’. This usually means a suit (for both women and men) or a smart pair of trousers or skirt, a shirt with a collar and a jacket.

Arriving at work for your first day or attending a job interview is all about creating a good impression and dressing smartly is part of this. It is also shows that you are taking the interview or job seriously.

Therefore you should always avoid wearing any of the following items:

  • Jeans – however smart you think they are.
  • Trainers – regardless of how expensive they are!
  • T- shirts
  • Flip flops
  • Leggings
  • Onesies!

Finally, remember that however nervous you are feeling, the person interviewing you or greeting you on your first day at work was once in your position and therefore likely to understand what you are going through. If you follow the above advice you will have prepared well and this will also help settle your nerves.

We wish all our students good luck in their job interviews and new careers.


[1] Slorach, S; Embley, J; Goodchild,P and Shephard, C Legal Systems and Skills (3rd edition) at page 515

[2] Slorach, S; Embley, J; Goodchild,P and Shephard, C Legal Systems and Skills (3rd edition) at page 515

[3] Slorach, S; Embley, J; Goodchild,P and Shephard, C Legal Systems and Skills (3rd edition) at page 516

[4] Slorach, S; Embley, J; Goodchild,P and Shephard, C Legal Systems and Skills (3rd edition) at page 516

[5] Slorach, S; Embley, J; Goodchild,P and Shephard, C Legal Systems and Skills (3rd edition) at page 516

Posted by & filed under Featured Lecturer, Student Voice.

Nick Cartwright, Senior Lecturer in Law writes:

Those of us who work in Universities have known for far too long that there are attainment gaps in Higher Education (HE) with certain groups of students not achieving the grades their peers do.  Broadly, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students don’t achieve the grades their White peers do in all subjects, with Black students’ under-attainment being particularly acute.  We are also well aware, because we teach these students, that it has nothing to do with their ability or enthusiasm.  The reality is that, as with all structural inequalities, the causes, and therefore the solutions, are complicated and embedded and as a result difficult to address.  In reality this means that significant time and energy is spent on initiatives to ‘empower’ disadvantaged groups – we try to build their confidence, encourage them to develop networks and generally to assimilate and better conform to our notion of a ‘good student’.  What we are not good at as a sector is changing our institutions so that they are more accessible to these students.

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to get to present at the Teaching and Learning conference in Liverpool and was excited by Nick Hillman’s Keynote address.  Nick Hillman is the Director of the prestigious Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and spoke about many issues within HE but it was the idea of ‘sticky campuses’ that grabbed my attention.  The reason it caught my attention was that it was evidence based and suggested a partial solution to attainment gaps that focused on what we can do and not on how our students need to change.  It’s a simple idea which has emerged from Australasia and focuses on how we make campuses a place where students want to come and want to stay.  It might seem obvious but students who feel they belong generally perform better in their degrees, and have greater satisfaction as they do so.

I didn’t realise it at the time but my experience of University as an undergraduate was ‘sticky’, and I’m not just referring to the carpets in the Students’ Union (SU) bar!  I lived on or near campus for all 3 years, I spent time before and after classes in the smoking areas or hanging around the pool table with a cheeky half, I spent evenings either working in or drinking at the numerous SU bars or at parties in Halls.  What I didn’t realise was that all this time I was trying to learn about the fairer sex I was in fact learning in a much broader sense.  Of course, my classmates and I talked about what our Professors had said, the seminar questions that were vexing us and our upcoming assessments.  We were sticking around and it was benefitting us.  Unfortunately the things that we stuck around for didn’t attract some other students and so they missed this coarse contemplation and reflection.

There is clear data that shows that BME and mature students are more likely to be commuter students and therefore less likely to stick around.  There is also evidence that if we make University campuses ‘stickier’, so that these commuter students stick around, they benefit from it.  In fact it is such a simple and obvious idea that we don’t really need data to tell us this.  Obviously what made University sticky for me isn’t going to work for everyone so the challenge that now faces us has to be how we put this simple solution into effect.  And, whilst we focus on this challenge, we must recognise that it is not a silver bullet and must not detract from our other efforts to combat inequality.  Sticky campuses aren’t the answer to the structural inequalities in HE, but they might just be part of the solution and it would be wrong to allow ourselves to be paralysed by the size of the challenge.

Collaborative learning spaces are stickier than conventional lecture theatres and we must make sure that these spaces are comfortable and functional.  We need spaces that promote student and staff well-being with well-designed lighting, fresh air and pleasant acoustics, particularly as acoustic design and lighting are two factors which can either include or exclude certain groups of learners.  Students on the autism spectrum, for example, are particularly affected by their acoustic surroundings.  We need spaces in which students can connect to the technology with their own devices and actively engage with their own learning in their own way and we need to create solutions to support those learners who are less digitally literate.  We need to ensure that the fresh air and relaxation offered by outside space is realised by making it accessible to all, including our disabled students.

It’s a challenge that at the University of Northampton we have an enviable opportunity to address as we prepare to move to a new campus and I hope that we embrace this opportunity and make Waterside as sticky as possible, for all our students.  Certainly our riverside location, Learning Commons spaces and commitment to Active Blended Learning present a great opportunity to create a sticky space.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.


Kate Exall, Senior Lecturer in Law and LLB 2-year programme leader, writes:


On Thursday June 15th over 20 students attended the inaugural Law Employability Day at Park Campus.  Attendees ranged from first years through to Post Graduate students and they enjoyed 2 key note speakers and a workshop activity finishing with a networking lunch.  The event was organised by UCEE and was supported by Law tutors to give students some practical support with their careers and voluntary activities.


Lisa started by explaining the Changemaker Portal  which contains all sorts of useful information, tips and advice as well as being a one stop shop for booking appointments, having mock interview practice, CV checking and volunteering.  For more information visit :


The first talk was by Laura Swallow, a solicitor with Arquiva, a firm that provides the infrastructure for telecommunications providing for example telecom towers and digital and satellite services both at home and overseas.  Laura works in the commercial property section working with land owners and others to secure and maintain sites for their operations.   She is also involved in graduate recruitment for the firm.  Her advice included:


  • Paying attention to detail in applications
  • Looking at a range of employers for training contracts – they don’t have to be done in private practice
  • Be commercially aware
  • Get a range of experience during training
  • Take all the opportunities that are offered.


Isla from went through the dos and don’ts of making applications for any job and the importance of commercial awareness.    They work with graduate recruiters and have a range of resources and material available on their website ( to help students with the next stages in their careers.  Isla’s top tips included:


  • Paying attention to detail – don’t get the firm’s name wrong or make spelling or grammatical errors
  • It is better to apply for a smaller number of jobs rather than sending bulk emails out.
  • Target each one to the specific firm and research them first to find out as much as possible about them
  • Make sure the application goes in on time.  Recruiters can check to see what time an application was submitted so don’t leave it to the last minute as that does not reflect well.
  • Be commercially aware – find out what is going on in the sector they work in.


The workshops included how to be Changemaker by discussing problems arising from the cuts to the Legal Aid Budgets and what action students can take to help people affected.  Mark Bytheway, the University’s Graduate Recruitment Consultant, helped students to make better use of Linked In and to understand the importance of networking.  Finally students could have their CVs checked by a member of UCEE.


The morning concluded with a networking lunch which was also attended by Sarah Hayle from The Community Law Service in Northampton.   They are looking for volunteers to work one day a week for a year with their Benefits Team or for more general support with administration.   For more information see:


Student Feedback was very positive and they were pleased to have the opportunity to get so much support and advice with their careers.  Particular thanks must go to Lisa Slaughter who organised the event with support from the wider Changemaker Hub team.