William E. Eye

2018 Temple Bar Scholar Report

The Temple Bar Scholarship is a singular opportunity to study the English legal system from the vantage of judge and advocate. It was an honor to learn about the English system from its most distinguished jurists and practitioners, and my experience taught me that the English system is rightly the envy of the world.

From our first day in London, it was clear that the Scholarship would exceed expectations. We arrived on a Sunday and got acquainted with our new home, a well-appointed flat in the posh South Kensington neighborhood. After getting settled, we attended a reception in Middle Temple to mingle with some of the foremost members of the English bench and bar, including Justices of the UK Supreme Court and Queen’s Counsel from elite barrister chambers. It was a memorable kickoff to a whirlwind week-long introduction to Legal London.

The rest of that week was no less impressive. On Monday, we arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice to watch the swearing in of two new UK Supreme Court Justices: Lady Arden and Lord Kitchin. Afterwards, we walked to the nearby Westminster Abbey for the Opening of the Legal Year Ceremony, where we witnessed a parade of jurists and barristers wearing wigs and gowns proceed in and out of the historic building. We then observed a murder trial in the Old Bailey and discussed the case with the trial judge in his chambers. And we finished the day in a pub with panoramic views over the Thames. It was an unforgettable day, and the rest of the week followed suit.

As the week progressed, we came to realize that the Scholarship afforded unparalleled access to leading figures of the British legal world. We took full advantage. We conversed with Justices of the UK Supreme Court, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Master of the Rolls, and the head of the Commercial Court. We spoke with prominent barristers and solicitors, toured the National Pro Bono Centre and The Law Society, and spent afternoons in each of the four Inns of Court—the ancient institutions that for centuries have called barristers to the bar. In each of those settings, we probed the similarities and differences between the English and American legal systems. Our conversations were wide-ranging but never superficial, and we were welcomed in each instance with enthusiasm and hospitality.

The second and third weeks of the program placed us in chambers with some of England’s premier advocates. I was placed with Andrew Spink, QC of Outer Temple and Andrew DeMestre of Four Stone Buildings, both of whom kindly allowed me to observe their work and entertained my many questions. Due to some fortuitous timing, my placement coincided with a multi-billion-dollar appeal. The barristers on the appellate team included me in strategy meetings and client briefings, and I witnessed some of England’s best barristers argue for three days in the Court of Appeal. It was a most memorable experience.

Our final week of the program brought us to the UK Supreme Court, where we were each hosted by a Justice of the Court. I had the honor of sitting with Lady Black, who graciously took the time to discuss cases with me in her chambers. I also had the pleasure of making music with Justice Carnwath (a talented violist), who invited me to perform in a string octet at the Court before a dinner at the House of Lords. I will cherish memories of my time at the Court for years to come.

In conclusion, the Temple Bar Scholarship was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Legal London up close. I am grateful to the American Inns of Court and COMBAR for making this opportunity possible. Special thanks to Dean Bill Koch, BG Malinda Dunn, U.S. Army (Ret.), Cindy Dennis, and our many hosts in London who so warmly welcomed us. And I’d be remiss to neglect my fellow scholars—it was a delight to explore London with such a distinguished coterie, and I am proud to count them as both co-scholars and friends.

William E. Eye is a law clerk for Chief Judge Edward E. Carnes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. A graduate of Emory University School of Law, Eye was a Woodruff Fellow. He took first place in the ABA Student Writing Competition and received the Paul Bryan Prize. He was a Dean’s Teaching Fellow and served as executive notes and comments editor on the Emory Law Journal. He worked as an associate at the Atlanta firm of Jones Day before joining Carnes’ staff. Eye earned a master of letters with distinction in international political theory from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at Emory University where he graduated summa cum laude in philosophy and violin performance. He was a Sonny Carter Scholar and was awarded the Kuntz Prize as outstanding philosophy student. He completed a fellowship with Humanity in Action in Berlin and Sarajevo, studying minority rights in Europe, and was an exchange student with the International Human Rights Exchange in Johannesburg, South Africa.