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LLB Student Jay Carter writes for Behind the Scenes at BLS on the ebbs and flows of what it is actually like to study law and the exciting opportunities for travel and research at BLS.

Jay Carter, LLB student

Working in hospitality deep into the Christmas period, you’re asked more frequently than you might think what it is actually like studying the law, as you exchange flat white-with-one-sugar for a tap on the card reader with one of the regulars, whose morning caffeine fix you’ve not been around to provide since early September. 

Truth be told, what it’s truly like ebbs and flows from the very first dent that is made in your reading list. For the discerning first-year, Holland & Webb’s Learning Legal Rules opens with an introduction to two theoretical paradigms: one of the law as having a coercive control over our lives, the other depicting more of a facilitative function. 

Irrespective of the direction in which your appreciation might be skewed, this initial understanding serves to be the lens through which you study Law, and approach each of the opportunities that doing so at Birmingham Law School presents.

When looking at my university journey holistically, the standout feature has to be the impact that the year spent abroad at the University of Waterloo has had. In the same way that I recall getting stuck into legal literature for the very first time, the opportunity to branch far beyond the scope of a typical qualifying LLB has added greater clarity to the lens through which I am currently approaching my fourth and final year.

As an aspiring commercial solicitor with a particular interest in disputes, I particularly enjoyed studying the History of the Modern Middle East under Dr Shahram Kholdi. The region plays such an integral role in global energy dynamics and will continue to do so as we transition to more sustainable sources. 

My studies under Dr Kholdi provided valuable context when first approaching the issues dealt with by Environmental Law. These same issues present themselves across the legal world per se, as energy firms begin their restructuring processes to better prepare themselves for the transition to sustainable fuel sources. Lawyers will be needed with regards to restructuring for as long as the corporation exists, and disputes will perennially be a busy field of practice. 

The concept of a ‘bargain’ has been central to how I view the law ever since Dr Catherine Mitchell’s Contract Law lectures of September 2017. In representing an exchange, regardless of the relative bargaining power of parties and the magnitude of the consideration at stake, a bargain represents the autonomy and objective sense of fairness that the law is based upon. 

Whilst abroad, I wrote an end of term paper in my Business Law course contrasting the vastly different approaches of courts in England and Canada to the issue of contractual consideration. Supervised by Bob Timberg and Darren Charters, I submitted this to the Academy of Legal Studies in Business and was invited to present my research at their Annual Conference in August. Whilst presenting to a tiled arrangement of faces on my laptop screen won’t ever compare to physically taking the stage, it was a great opportunity to discuss my findings in detail with a panel of academics. The whole experience of writing, editing, and presenting was immensely valuable and enjoyable - further refining my skillset to best approach the final year of my studies. I am now seeking publishing opportunities to take my interest in legal writing further.

I’ve enjoyed the start to this year like I have to no other, despite the Coronavirus restrictions that we can’t seem to escape. With how things are going, the benefit of looking at my time in the Law School holistically has become clear. Most satisfying is when you can feel different aspects of it all coming together, as graduation looms.