A rookie barrister has become embroiled in a very public war of words with King’s College London after it terminated his honorary senior lecturer position over concern about a business he runs charging students for help appealing their exam results.
Daniel Sokol, who was called to the Bar in 2011 after several years working as a university lecturer, has been operating Alpha Academic Appeals alongside his fledgling legal career as a pupil at One Crown Office Row and now as a tenant at 12 King’s Bench Walk.
But the company, which charges students £500-£1,000 for help in exam appeals, has attracted criticism for encouraging a litigious culture and making a profit from students.
Concerned about being perceived to be associated with Alpha Academic Appeals, King’s College wrote to Sokol in November to inform him that his honorary senior lectureship in medical ethics and law was to be terminated.
Today Sokol, 35, has hit back with a stinging missive in Times Higher Education in which he quips that those who read King’s letter to him “might have been forgiven for thinking that I had set up a brothel for students, with an endless supply of class A drugs.”
In the article — which can be read here — Sokol goes on to argue that it is unfair to prevent students obtaining legal representation and that it is healthy to have lawyers involved in the exam appeals process.
“Lawyers should weed out the hopeless cases, not add to them. They should in practice assist, not obstruct, the decision-makers in making fair decisions…There is a good reason why students who believe they have been unfairly treated turn to lawyers. They know that, by and large, they will get better representation,” writes the 12 KBW clinical negligence junior.
A spokesperson for King’s said that the institution was concerned about “the activities of law firms seeking to target students in the area of complaints and appeals” when free representation is available through the student union’s ‘Academic Advice Service’.
She added: “We have made clear to Dr Sokol our concerns about the perceived association between the College and his appeals business, which the College does not endorse. We have explained to him that in light of that, we no longer believe that a relationship with Dr Sokol is beneficial to the College in general or the School of Medicine in particular.”