Title: Professor Satnam Choongh talks about CEPLER
Professor Satnam Choongh
Professor of Law
CEPLER is the centre for professional legal education and research. There are two aspects to it – one is enhancing the vocational activities and opportunities that are available to our students – and the second part is to carry out research with and on the legal profession, and what we’re hoping to do is to make sure that Birmingham Law School becomes a centre of national – if not international renown in terms of research on the legal profession.
Why introduce CEPLER now?
What we want to do is make sure that students get value for money – people should rightly be asking what am I going to get from this university that’s going to be different from anywhere else. So this is an ideal time to do something that will enhance – give added value to – what we offer students for the money they pay and also to make sure that they can compete in a tough job market, that they have employability skills which make them stand out from other law students.
Mooting, pro bono and teaching
We have four mooting competitions, and they are sponsored by law firms – one is sponsored by Allen & Overy, which is an international firm, and another is sponsored by No5 Chambers, an international set of chambers, and they provide judges to judge all of the rounds of the moot and QCs come in to judge the later rounds. What we’re going to do with CEPLER is to make sure there’s even more involvement from the legal profession, not just in mooting, but also all the other range of activities that we do. For example, the Free Legal Advice Group, Free Legal Clinic, Pro Bono group that we operate here, there are very few law schools that actually operate pro bono units from within the law school – not only do we do that at the moment but what we aim to do is expand that. We already have Mills & Reeve, who’ve won awards as a result of helping us run that. What we’re going to do is we’re going to expand upon that. We’re going to have sets of chambers facilitating that by barristers coming in and giving their time to make sure students learn the skills of advising clients and confidence in drafting letters of advice. But more than that, what we want to do is make sure that barristers and solicitors come in and teach on many of the courses that we offer. Moving into the future we may even put together courses designed to be co-taught practitioners and academics. So that students get a policy perspective – a professional perspective on a subject right from the outset.
CEPLER & Research
We’re a research-led university and the quality of our research informs the teaching that we do – the quality of the teaching that we do – and by setting up a centre which will be doing research with and on the profession – that will filter in to the course content of many of the courses that we teach here, making sure that the students have a unique insight into how the profession’s working and the issues that are affecting the profession and access to justice at the moment.