Chike Croslin

2018 Temple Bar Scholar Report

Chike Croslin PhotoI began my time as a Temple Bar Scholar with high hopes for the contribution that exposure to the legal system in the United Kingdom would make to my personal and professional development. I was not disappointed. From the standpoint of a young attorney who maintains a strong personal interest in developing a global perspective on the study and practice of law, I can confidently say that there is no substitute for cross-cultural exposure when it comes to expanding one’s ability to appreciate the past and imagine the future of legal practice and the legal profession. I can also say—with equal confidence—that there is no substitute for the Temple Bar Scholarship when it comes to affording young American lawyers the opportunity to obtain such valuable exposure in the United Kingdom. 

The scholarship experience was divided into three principal phases, each of which explored a different facet of British legal practice. The first phase functioned as a broad introduction, consisting of a whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom’s preeminent legal institutions, both storied and modern. The focus was on education in the fundamentals of the UK legal system, and our lessons were handed down by the best of the best—true stars of the bench and bar.  The second phase involved a deeper dive into life at the bar, with each scholar shadowing one or more barristers as they went about their work in chambers. This portion of the program gave the best sense of the day-to-day work of British barristers, affording me the privilege of considering complex legal issues involved in multiple appeals, thinking through advocacy strategies for trial or pretrial proceedings and pre-litigation positioning, thinking broadly about the relationship between law, global politics, and global problems in an academic setting, and, of course, benefitting from delightful and informative conversations with my hosts. The third phase was more judicially focused, as each scholar was introduced to the justices of the UK Supreme Court and assigned to one or more justices for the purposes of shadowing and mentorship. This final phase gave scholars the closest opportunity to observe the process of legal problem solving in action, and to reflect on how that process fits into the ongoing story of British constitutional democracy.  

In many ways, the Supreme Court can be viewed as a metaphor for the British constitutional structure and legal profession more broadly. The Court is a relatively new, modern institutional outcrop with a deep foundation in traditional principles, a place where contemporary concerns mingle with historical legacy in search of mutual accommodation.  Indeed, this transformative process of accommodation is at the heart of the UK legal system and of particular relevance to lawyers, who—whether as advocates or judges—bear the burden of credibly reconciling concepts such as fundamental rights and the separation of powers with parliamentary sovereignty, or integration into global networks of regulation and accountability with a need to preserve a sense of national uniqueness. While the uncertainty of Brexit has given the latter tension a deservedly prominent place in headlines and at dinner tables across the country, the process of accommodation extends beyond it, encompassing issues such as the future of the Inns of Court as centers of legal learning, practice, and fellowship, the distribution of power and decision-making authority between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom itself, the still evolving relationship between national courts and legal principles and international structures of legal accountability, and more.

It is the nature of modern constitutional democracy to solve large and small problems through law and legal structures and to lean on the legal profession to shape and judge those solutions.  As I return to the United States to begin developing my own role in this process, I feel immensely privileged to have had the opportunity to walk with, talk to, and learn from those members of the profession in the United Kingdom who are doing the same. I am deeply thankful to all involved in making the 2018 Temple Bar Scholarship a success, and I hope that future generations of Temple Bar Scholars will appreciate the opportunity as much as I have.

Chike Croslin is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the London School of Economics and Political Science. At Harvard, he was the recipient of the 2013 MCCA Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr., Scholarship and the 2014 Ford Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship. He served as notes editor for the Harvard Law Review and as parliamentarian of the Harvard Black Law Student Association. At LSE, he received the American Friends of LSE Scholarship and authored a thesis on American bank bailouts and their effects on democracy. As an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and received the Ralph Bunche Award for academic excellence. Croslin has served as a law clerk to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and to Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. While in law school, he worked as a student attorney at the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic.