2014 Temple Bar Scholar Report
Each fall brings a remarkable opportunity for a handful of American law clerks. As Temple Bar Scholars, they get to learn about the English legal system and compare and contrast it with their own legal system to gain a better understanding of both. And they get to do so while spending a month in London.
This fall, I was one such lucky law clerk. I arrived in London ready to study the legal system that inspired our own. I arrived ready to dissect that legal system's unfamiliar traits against the backdrop of our legal system's treasured traits. I arrived ready to extract new insights into how both legal systems operate. And I did all those things in spades. But they are not what I will remember most about the Temple Bar Scholarship. What I will remember most are the hospitality and generosity shown to us by our British hosts and their openness to and interest in teaching us about their legal system and learning from ours.
We began the Temple Bar Scholarship with a whirlwind introduction to legal London. The English legal system's main institutions are in the nation's capital, separated by only a short stroll or Tube ride. One hub is the Royal Courts of Justice, housing the High Court and Court of Appeal. The complex's Gothic Revival façade soars over the Strand and Fleet Street, its intricate carvings, pointed arches, and many towers reminding all passersby of the English legal system's rich history. The Rolls Building is another hub, the home of the Chancery Division, Admiralty and Commercial Court, and Technology and Construction Court. Behind the building's sleek glass façade lies a cutting-edge court complex, its video conferencing facilities, Wi-Fi, and massive super courts assuring litigants of the English legal system's modernity. A third hub is the Central Criminal Court or Old Bailey, as it is known. The site's prosecutions-from the unlawful assembly trial of William Penn to the indecency trial of Oscar Wilde to the phone-hacking trial of News of the World reporters-have captured public attention for centuries, the storied courtrooms, Dead Man's Walk, and statute of Lady Justice sans blindfold as much a part of English popular culture as English legal culture. Nestled among those hubs are the four Inns of Court. They are the gatekeepers to the barrister profession; would-be barristers join an Inn, and it is the Inn that calls them to the bar. Finally, the Supreme Court is just a few Tube stops away. A new establishment housed in the old Middlesex Guildhall, the Court is forging its place in English legal history one year at a time.
We had the good fortune of visiting each of those institutions, among others, during our first week as Temple Bar Scholars. The visits allowed us to learn about the institutions' physical features, as well as their history, function, and procedures. But our whirlwind introduction to legal London did not end there. For many of the English legal system's leading lights made time to meet with us during that memorable first week. The Lord Chief Justice, the President of the Supreme Court, and the Master of the Rolls each shared with us successes of the institutions they head up and challenges those institutions face. We discussed strengths and weaknesses of the American legal system, as well as things our two legal systems can learn from each other. I can still hardly believe that those top judges found room for us in their busy schedules. Their generosity, coupled with their candor in responding to our many questions, exceeded all my expectations for the Temple Bar Scholarship. I can say the same for the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court and two judges of the Central Criminal Court who welcomed us to their respective institutions and gave us an incomparable introduction to those institutions' specialized dockets. Indeed, even our visits to the Inns of Court did not stop at tours of their historic buildings and picturesque courtyards. Rather, the Inns' administrators and members treated us to lovely lunches during which we discussed the evolution of the Inns' role in educating barristers, the reforms that our respective legal education systems may require, and the costs of becoming a lawyer worldwide.
Following our whirlwind introduction to legal London, we got to see leading barristers in action. For two weeks, I had the privilege of shadowing Paul Stanley QC and Samuel Wordsworth QC of Essex Court Chambers and Tom Weisselberg QC of Blackstone Chambers. From discussing their cases to crafting their written submissions to attending their oral arguments, those accomplished barristers graciously included me in many parts of their day-to-day work. Some aspects of that work were familiar: the review of case materials, research into legal questions, and construction of written arguments look much like they do in the United States. Other aspects were not: serving as counsel for both the government and private parties, arguing against a barrister from the same chambers, and having clerks manage the business side of practice are foreign concepts for American lawyers. Throughout my time with them, the barristers I shadowed not only answered my questions but also made a point of sharing their perspective on the profession's organization and barrister's role in their country. Moreover, they appreciated that I was an eager visitor to their city, as well as their chambers. I am grateful for the extra time they took to introduce local lunch spots, discuss London's plays, operas, and art exhibitions, and explain the intricacies of English primary schools, crossword puzzles, and traffic patterns.
Our last week brought us back to the Supreme Court. We could not have asked for a more special close to the Temple Bar Scholarship. The Justices gave us extraordinary access to the Court and its proceedings. We were able to navigate the Court's building like Court employees and see each stage in a case's lifecycle-from permission to appeal to oral argument to announcement of judgment. Our access was surpassed by only the welcome we received. The Justices hosted us for an unforgettable reception at the Court and dinner at the House of Lords. But their hospitality did not end with those formal events. Many Justices also made time throughout the week to see how we were doing, discuss our impressions, and offer their sightseeing recommendations. I was particularly lucky to have the honor of shadowing Lord Reed. He shared countless insights into the Court's cases and history and encouraged my questions and observations at every step. I appreciate his kindness, generosity, and wisdom more than I can express. I appreciate too the efforts of our British counterparts, the Court's judicial assistants, to ensure that we felt welcome and were getting the most out of the experience. They spent many hours showing us around the Court and explaining its procedures and their jobs, helping us make informative comparisons of our respective high courts.
I want to thank all those who made this fall's Temple Bar Scholarship possible. I am grateful to the American Inns of Court for creating and supporting such an outstanding program and for allowing me to be a part of it. I am grateful to Cindy Dennis, Chief Judge Stewart, and General Dunn for opening so many of legal London's doors to us and for expertly guiding us through them. And I am grateful to our many British hosts for their exceptional hospitality, generosity, and openness.
Julia Malkina is a law clerk for retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was born in Russia and came to the United States amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley with highest distinction in general scholarship and highest honors in political science. At Yale Law School, she served as a notes editor of the Yale Law Journal and a submissions editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. After receiving her juris doctor, Malkina clerked for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit before joining the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice as a Bristow Fellow.