Daniel Forde recounts his working experience at the recent Legal Scholars’ Conference.

The Society of Legal Scholars Conference took place in the Sutherland  School of Law over the 5th-8th of September, and this author had the privilege to be a Conference Intern at this event. “What does all this mean, and why should I care?” I hear you ask. Well Dear Reader, thankfully I have provided all the necessary answers below.

What is the SLS Conference, and what’s a Conference Intern?

The SLS Conference is an annual conference where members of the Society of Legal Scholars (read, law professors) can meet and discuss all kinds of legal issues. The current conference in UCD marks the first time it has ever been held in Ireland in 108 years. A Conference Intern is a volunteering law student who helps with the facilitation of the conference.

What did the role involve?

The responsibilities included, preparing rooms for the seminars, providing enough water for all, and directing professors across the campus to the law school.

Did you get to sit in on many lectures? What did you think of them?

I had to sit in on two lectures each day, mostly to make sure equipment did not fail and that everyone was present. The first set of lectures I had to sit in with was on the subject of Family Law. Parts of this were quite interesting, such as a paper on whether criminal offenders with children should receive reduced sentences. However, in the other set of lectures, on Restitution, the topics were a lot more obscure and I struggled to keep up with some presentations.

Did you meet many people at the event? Judges, academics etc?

There were some very notable judges attending. Representing Ireland, there was Chief Justice Frank Clarke, Justice Donal O’Donnell, and Justice Iseult O’Malley. The Chief Justice of Northern Ireland also appeared, and the first woman Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, chaired a presentation. I also got to speak briefly with Lord Mance after a Restitution seminar. In terms of academics, there were too many attending to name. Professors from Australia, Canada, Britain and even Maynooth all mingled with each other.

What was the highlight of the Conference for you?

Two highlights stand out. One was the session chaired by Justice O’Donnell talking about the diverse unities of the law. This brought together numerous judges from all across the British Isles, all for the purpose of comparing similarities across many different sources of law. The second highlight was on the very last day when the publishers from Oxford Press at the conference allowed the interns to take any books we wanted from their stand, free of charge.

Did the Conference have any impact on your career aims?

It showed me that the life of an academic lecturer requires a lot of work and dedication to your field. While I find this commendable, I don’t think it is a career path I would choose. I much preferred seeing the law in a courtroom, rather than a classroom.

Daniel Forde – Business & Law Writer