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Cambridge Law Studio’s Twentieth Anniversary Interview

Published Bernice on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cambridge Law Studio - law school in the UK

In today’s interview we will be speaking to Catherine Mason, one of the founders of Cambridge Law Studio.

Tell us something about yourself and the school, Catherine.

I was one of the founders of Cambridge Law Studio back in 1999. This year I’m delighted to be helping our school celebrate its twentieth anniversary as a successful training centre for lawyers and law students from all over the world.

In 1999 I was already a specialist teacher of English for lawyers and had taught in several schools in the UK and Europe. However, I wasn’t given the freedom to teach what I knew was relevant and useful to my students – the teaching materials I was given were outdated and far too academic. My students needed the English to help them in the workplace and it was very frustrating not to be able to deliver that. In the end I took the leap of faith to setting up my own school, only for law students and lawyers and the first of its kind in the UK. I didn’t want a school that would teach general English and do a few ESP lessons for lawyers– I wanted a full-time school, with a very focused and useful timetable, just for them.

Why did you choose Cambridge?

I was based in Cambridge at the time, so it made perfect sense to offer our courses within the university buildings. This would give visiting students the full Cambridge experience while they were studying. We hired rooms from Girton College and have now become part of the furniture in this lovely, historic building set in beautiful grounds in the north of Cambridge.

Who have you welcomed at your school throughout these 20 years?

Law students from just about everywhere – we have developed a reputation for excellence and typically, ambitious law students, who want to work in commercial law, at the highest level in their home country, are keen to add our certificate to their CV.

Our students have gone on to some very impressive careers, mostly in international law firms, banks or big companies, but we’re also proud to have them working in EU institutions, for international charities and we’ve even have a few doing Masters degrees at universities such as Harvard.

How is your course different?

Our course is serious, commercial and a great preparation for dealing with contracts and other legal documents in English. This is vital. If Russia does business with China, the contracts are negotiated and drafted in English and they often choose English law as the governing law if they should fall into dispute. This is what we’re all about. We believe it’s no longer enough for schools to simply teach English - there has to be an added value to the course students choose, and our added value id definitely employability.

This is why our course is a great bridge between university and work - it has a high legal content as well as teaching language skills. We encourage our students to think as lawyers and not as academics; to look at the reality of law and business rather than seeing it as a theoretical subject. The most rewarding aspect of our work is when former students get in touch to say their English was tested by a big law firm or a company at interview, and without our course they wouldn’t have got the job. That’s an amazing feeling.

In our twentieth year the course is in the very capable hands of our director, Natalie Canham. As with all of our teachers, Natalie has taught working lawyers in lots of international law firms and companies, such as Occidental (an international Oil company), Mercedes Benz, Gucci, Siemens and many others. This experience gives us a complete grounding in the language commercial lawyers need and allows us to pass the information on to new law graduates. Many other schools focus on non-commercial law, such as criminal or constitutional law, but we listen to employers. They don’t tend to want that.

What are your plans for the near future?

In our twentieth year we decided to do something interesting and challenging to mark the occasion. We feel we now have the expertise and the reputation to franchise our school and we’re currently planning how we can share our expertise with more lawyers and law students around the world by setting up a network of schools under our guidance. We are excited by this and can’t wait to roll out our plans later in 2019 and into 2020. But Cambridge is close to our hearts and this will always be our flagship training centre. We are looking forward to welcoming lawyers, law students and legal translators for many years to come.

If you would like more information about our courses please contact us on info@camlawstudio.com



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