With the Pegagus Scholarship deadline coming up at the end of the month, Hardwicke barrister Laura Tweedy recalls her experience working for three months in New Zealand through the scheme
The deadline for Inns of Court scholarships for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) closed last week. But the Pegasus Scholarship — which provides funding for qualified barristers of up to five years’ post-qualification experience to spend three months working abroad — is still up for grabs until 30 November.
Not only does it allow rookie members of the bar to relocate for the winter to some wonderful exotic locations — destinations include Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, USA., West Indies, Zambia and Zimbabwe — but it gives them first-hand experience of a different legal system.
It was this opportunity to work in a different jurisdiction that Hardwicke social housing and property barrister Laura Tweedy relished most — although the weekends travelling around New Zealand were also pretty good.
“Wellington is a really cool capital city and the perfect base from which to explore the rest of New Zealand, but the point isn’t to go on a jolly every weekend,” she says, adding that what she found most interesting was to see “how other countries practise law.” For example, “in New Zealand the judges had bundles on iPads,” she recalls of the three month placement to Wellington’s Crown Law Office, a firm which provides legal advice to the New Zealand government.
Tweedy, who hopes to one day become a judge, also used the scholarship to gain some experience of the bench.
“My host firm were brilliant in that they let me shadow so many judges,” she explains. “I spoke to Supreme Court judges before they had given judgments, and I was on bench on one of lower courts where the judge made me write down what my decision would have been if I was in his position.”
One concern that Tweedy had was how the scholarship would affect the practice she had fought to build up since becoming a tenant five years ago. Happily, having taken steps to mitigate the impact of her absence, her clients didn’t desert her.
“I was worried about what my clients would think about me being away for three months. In fact the month I got back was my best ever month,” she says, continuing: “I was very careful to contact solicitors before I went and made sure they knew I wasn’t just off on a three-month holiday but actually working. And I kept in contact while I was away and also did a little blog.”
Listen to Tweedy’s full discussion with me in the podcast below.
You can apply for a Pegasus Scholarship — which is run by Inner Temple but open to barristers from all Inns who are tenants or employed barristers of up to five years’ practice (not including pupillage) — here.