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Cambridge Law Studio’s Visit to the Old Bailey

Published Bernice on Thursday, July 25, 2019

Cam Law Studio Old Bailey

Being an institution that offers courses specifically made for lawyers and law students, Cambridge Law Studio tries its best to provide students with an overall experience of what Legal English truly means. One of the ways in which we achieve this, is by taking our students to the Old Bailey Courthouse.

For those who are not familiar with this place, the Old Bailey, also known as Justice Hall, the Sessions House, and the Central Criminal Court, was named after the street in which it was located, just off Newgate Street and next to Newgate Prison, in the western part of the City of London. Over the centuries the building has been periodically remodelled and rebuilt in ways which both reflected and influenced the changing ways trials were carried out and reported. (Source: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/The-old-bailey.jsp)

The building today, although heavily bombed in 1941, was reconstructed to meet the needs of more modern trials, in 1907, to which an extension was added in 1972. Both national and international trials are still held in this courthouse and this is the reason why we take our students on this visit.

Although most of our legal English students have the ambition to be commercial lawyers, and not criminal lawyers, the visit to the Old Bailey is something that they tell us they never forget, because of its cultural significance to them. They normally come to England, as lawyers or law students, with a great deal of curiosity about two things; barristers and juries. In their own legal systems, they (mostly) have neither of those things, and they are full of curiosity to see how it works.

In their home countries a lawyer is simply a lawyer and only the English-speaking countries divide the profession into solicitors and barristers. They are therefore very keen to see barristers at work in their gowns and wigs, because it is such a uniquely British thing. They love to see the witnesses being cross examined by a good barrister and they enjoy a chat after the case to discuss how our system varies from both their own and the criminal system in the USA (which is of course based on ours, but works slightly differently). This, not only educates them as to how the British criminal legal system works, but also gives them amazing listening and speaking opportunities around a very gripping subject. As a result of all this, our students will be getting an opportunity to listen to proper Legal English being used in practice, whilst getting a unique experience.

The other thing that fascinates students, is jury watching. Again, they cannot quite believe that 12 random people, who do not have a law degree, are allowed to sit in judgement over such serious cases like murder or bank robbery. In their own countries this can only be done by a judge. They go into the Old Bailey very much against the idea of a jury, and tend to come out full of praise for how it all works, and keen to discuss it, all of the way back to Cambridge.

Apart from getting insight into a different legal system, they also get more knowledge on how different countries practise law. So, for all our students, who will eventually be concerned with contracts and company law, the visit to the Old Bailey is an amazing and enjoyable vision into what is for them a completely alien way of doing things. It really is one of the highlights of our course!

Should any of your students be interested in improving their Legal English, we can help. Contact us on info@camlawstudio.com



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