University of Sussex Client Interviewing Competition

The final of the DMH Stallard sponsored Client Interviewing Competition took place on December 5th. Prior to the competition, students took part in a series of workshops led by Law Lecturers Jeanette Ashton; Paven Basuita and Will McCready, which covered communication styles; active and passive listening; question techniques; advising the client on the relevant area of law and exploring both legal and non-legal options. Alongside having the chance to practise these vital skills, students had the opportunity to quiz guests Neil Farrow (Solicitor, Real Estate) and Hannah Joad (Trainee solicitor), both Sussex alumni, on their top tips for successful interviewing.

The theme of this year’s competition as set by the Law Society, who sponsor the national event, was Damage to Property (Civil). Two pairs of ‘solicitors’ Siddharth and Khushi (both second year LLB) and Sharnki (final year Graduate entry) and Inderbir (second year LLB) advised ‘client’ Tia (first year LLB) on a very tricky situation with her housemates in her student accommodation.

Hannah and Neil from DMH Stallard who were our judges both said how impressed they had been with the quality of the interviewing. Neil commented “The university fielded two exceptionally strong teams for the final of the client interviewing competition. Both showed excellent interpersonal skills and a natural flair for client care, as well as some incisive questioning demonstrating good commercial awareness of their client’s needs. The winning team were especially good at reflecting back to the client with appropriate language and provided solid suggestions for resolution of the dispute.”

Siddharth and Khushi were delighted to win the coveted Sussex shield, and the opportunity for a week’s work experience at DMH Stallard LLP, with the runners up also receiving a cash prize and encouraged to apply for the firm’s vacation scheme.

Commenting on the programme as a whole, Siddharth said “My experience during the competition was definitely a memorable one. What I learned during the competition is that communication, listening to the client’s needs, and confidence were fundamental skills required in order to conduct a successful interview. At first, I did not know what to expect and I joined this competition with zero expectations. But as I progressed, I learned how important it was to stay calm and develop trust with the client where they feel relaxed to express their concerns. Furthermore, the clients we came across during each round challenged me to think on my feet, a skill most certainly needed when becoming a solicitor.”

Siddharth and Khushi will now go on to represent the University of Sussex in the Law Society regional heats which take place in February and we wish them every success.

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