Students on the College’s new two-year undergraduate LL.B law degree showed off their newly acquired knowledge of the legal profession and proved that they could stand up to tough questioning by taking part in a ‘Dragons’ Den’-style challenge.
Three teams from the London Bloomsbury centre battled it out in a final showdown as they pitched for investment in a fictitious legal services provider from an investors panel made up of real legal practitioners.
More than 50 students initially took part in the challenge and the winning team from each of the centre’s three LL.B classes went through to the final event and faced a grilling following their pitch to the panel.
An LL.B student outlines her ideas
The challenge was based on changes brought about by the Legal Services Act, which enables the setting up of Alternative business structures (ABS). ABS are a new type of law firm structure allowing non-lawyers and external investors to invest in and share management and control of law firms.
One of the teams presents to the investors panel
Each team represented a different kind of legal services provider seeking external investment and were tasked with producing full supporting evidence, including a presentation, the design for their firm’s website to illustrate their business brand and an information document setting out key facts for the potential investors.
The investors panel listens to pitches
The overall winning team, which called themselves J.A.T. Legal, was presented with a shield and was made up of students Jan Kolar, Tom Boulting, Arvand Askari, Jennifer Davies and Adil Miah.
They had adopted the model of an ABS, which planned to carry out fixed fee work in a number of areas including wills, conveyancing, family law and employment in order to establish their presence and compete in the market place. To secure geographical domination of the market place they also suggested a franchise model so that their name and know-how could be purchased by others ensuring rapid expansion in the market place with little risk for the investor.
Investors panel members present the winners’ shield to J.A.T. Legal
Jan Kolar said: "One of the main things that I got out of the Legal Services Project was that, due to the fact that it was held right at the beginning of the course, I got to know some of my classmates very well very quickly which helped us to co-operate and have the right team spirit needed for the project which was essential for our success. Without this we wouldn't work so well and wouldn't win.
“Also it was interesting to create our own legal enterprise as it provided us with a detailed view into the structure and setting up of a law firm. The final was definitely very useful due to getting feedback from real practitioners as their questions were on a very professional level."
His team mate Jennifer Davies added: "It gave me an invaluable insight into the different types of legal services that are available to the masses. Prior to this project, my knowledge of this area of law was extremely limited however, after all the required research and after having completed the presentation with my team, I felt that I had a much broader outlook on how legal services are conducted and what each legal service entails."
The shield presented to the winning team J.A.T. Legal
Making up the investors panel were Errol Robathan, a solicitor for HM Revenue & Customs, and Nick Tsatsas, Partner with law firm Fladgate LLP. Both were highly impressed with the students’ performance and their knowledge of the legal services market.
ErrolI said: "I thought all three groups made fantastically sophisticated presentations given how brief a time the students have been engaged in study of the law!" Nick added: “I was very impressed with the presentation skills demonstrated by the students, and by the obvious time and energy that they had spent researching their task. That they stood up so well to robust questioning also bodes very well for their future in the profession!”
The success of the event has encouraged Bloomsbury tutors to make the Dragons’ Den pitch contest an annual fixture for the LL.B students. The College’s LL.B was launched this year and is the first of its kind, grounded on practice-based learning and focusing on employability and the teaching of professional legal skills. It is running at the College’s Birmingham, Chester, Guildford and London Bloomsbury centres in 2012 before expanding to the Bristol and York centres in 2013.
Rachel Hawes, Associate Professor and Head of Students at the Bloomsbury Centre said: "The students on the College's new practice-focussed LL.B have risen to the challenge of the degree in a most impressive way. We were so impressed by the professionalism, presentational skills and high quality research achieved by the students in the Legal Services Project that we decided to hold a final before a 'Dragons’ Den' of practitioners. Despite a rigorous grilling from our specially invited solicitors the students did not wilt - they performed spectacularly and the winners, 'J.A.T. Legal', can be justly proud of their achievement."