Alex Gays studied the two-year LLB at The University of Law Bloomsbury. Determined to become a solicitor in London, he’s secured a training contract with Harbottle & Lewis in London. Before that starts, he’s having an adventure working as a paralegal in the Caribbean’s exotic Turks and Caicos Islands. Alex has taken a break from working in the sun to tell us about his studies, becoming a solicitor and sunsets.
I chose The University of Law after attending an open day at the Bloomsbury campus. It immediately felt right for me. I wanted a career in law, so taking a degree somewhere known for its commitment to the profession made sense.
The University of Law has excellent links to national and international law firms, and a fantastic employability service and pro-bono opportunities. By studying here, I was sure that I’d be getting my legal career off to a great start.
I chose to study the two year LLB so that I could finish my degree a year earlier than many other undergraduates. It was the structure of the course that really made me want to study at ULaw. It was all about law in practice; applying the law as if you were a trainee in a law firm. By the end of my course, I was sure that I wanted to become a solicitor.
These days, law firms need more from their lawyers than a knowledge of legal principles. On the LLB we learned commercial awareness and transferable skills such as negotiation and teamwork. I improved my collaboration skills, formed relationships and developed an appreciation of the issues facing the legal market.
I’d always wanted to work abroad so when I saw a position advertised at Griffiths & Partners, in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), I went for it. I wasn’t even sure where the TCI were, but after an initial interview with the partners in London and learning more about the location and the role, I was thrilled to be offered a one-year paralegal contract. I was able to visit the islands before making my final decision. After meeting the rest of the legal team and the incredible support staff – as well as getting my first glimpse of the tropical climate and spectacular coral reefs – I took a leap and accepted the position.
The TCI are a British Overseas Territory and the legal system is similar to that in England and Wales. There are the lower courts, the High Court and then a visiting Court of Appeal. The highest appeal court is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which sits in London. While the TCI share most of England’s common law principles and has replicated some of its statutes, its laws are still developing. This makes it an extremely interesting place to practice as many English laws haven't found their way across the Atlantic yet, so it becomes necessary to analyse different sources of law, including English statutes, Caribbean case law and TCI Ordinances. In addition, as lawyers practice as attorneys (rather than barristers or solicitors), you get to be involved both with the conduct of cases and court advocacy.
The best thing about working in the TCI is the people you meet, both in and out of work. Because of the size of the jurisdiction (which is increasingly an offshore centre for commercial litigation), I have been fortunate enough to work closely with attorneys, members of court and other government bodies. For example, I am often down at the main court house on Providenciales, which is less than two minutes from the office, liaising with court administrators or attending hearings before the Chief Justice. The small size of the TCI and its mix of islanders and international residents means that you get to work with a range of fascinating people. It’s so sociable and easygoing here. The snorkelling, scuba and kiteboarding opportunities are endless; there’s lots of golf and tennis to enjoy too – and of course you can take in striking sunsets on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
I’m looking forward to returning to London with the experience I’ve gained abroad. Working in a small, evolving jurisdiction requires you to be adept in a variety of areas. So far, I have worked on matters ranging from cross-border insolvency proceedings, to judicial review applications relating to the Islands’ plans for expansion and litigation arising from development on an exclusive satellite island. The real advantage, however, has been watching my supervising partners masterly strip back the legal issues and provide concise, practical and commercially-minded advice to their clients who are living, investing and working in the TCI.
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