QMUL’s Client Interviewing Competition: No Place For First Year students?
Kajal Kandeth, English and European Law Student: This year saw the conception of the QMUL Client Interviewing Competition which was sponsored by Norton Rose Fulbright. I was fortunate enough to reach the quarter-finals with my partner Laura Disley.
In terms of a brief summary of the format of the competition itself, each round involved being given a scenario which set out the client’s situation. It was then up to the competitors to ensure that they created a rapport with the client and found out essential information from them. We then had to advise the clients on the routes available to them, but ultimately let them choose whichever option they believed to be best.
As first years, my partner and I were a bit apprehensive with regards to the content of the competition and how we would fare as we felt that our knowledge was limited; we had never had the opportunity to practically apply the topics we had learnt, and we had not finished our first year material. We certainly found the competition challenging, but we were not at a disadvantage due to our inexperience. The two workshops held before the competition gave us a better understanding of the format of an interview and the structure of the competition aided us significantly as all rounds were based on first year modules. The competition focused on essential soft skills as well, which played to our advantage; although our advice had to be accurate, the main focus was on presenting this information to the client, and how we interacted with them.
I would certainly recommend students from all years to get involved. The competition is a unique offering which allows students to apply and perfect skills that are vital in any future career. Furthermore, it was an invaluable experience to work in a team; all pairs remained the same throughout the competition and therefore were able to build strong relationships. The later rounds are judged by tutors and the semi-finals and finals were held in Norton Rose Fulbright’s offices, both fantastic opportunities to sharpen your technique and receive feedback from experts.
I will certainly approach the competition differently next year. From my experience, I would advise students who are new to the competition to prepare for the unexpected; although you will be given a brief, you never know how the scenario will pan out or how it will be portrayed by the client. Moreover, I learned how it is imperative to listen to the client, and that silence is perfectly acceptable as you absorb all the information. Although you should try to steer clear from complex legal terms, if they do arise, try to break things down and never assume that the client will understand them. Above all, smile and enjoy the competition!