myView from the Netherlands

myView from the Netherlands

Fifth year law and politics student Sophie Brokenshire recently traveled the Maastricht, the Netherlands, to compete in the Brown Mosten International Client Consultation Competition. She writes about her time there and what she learnt.

A group of Te Herenga Waka students, standing together, dressed smartly
Te Herenga Waka students Sophie and Lydia (far left) and their fellow competitors

Kia ora, my name is Sophie Brokenshire and I am a fifth year conjoint law and politics student at Te Herenga Waka.

I have recently come back from a very exciting trip to Maastricht, the Netherlands. I was fortunate enough to travel there to compete in the Brown Mosten International Client Consultation Competition alongside my teammate, Lydia Whyte. The Faculty of Law generously supported us to compete as Team New Zealand and showcase Te Herenga Waka on the international stage.

Many people would (very reasonably) have no idea what a client consultation competition is, and why this would be something that is competed at an international level. Hopefully in this piece, I can share some of my experiences with client consulting and why I think you should get involved with it too.

The Victoria University of Wellington Law Students Society (VUWLSS) runs competitions every year for law students. These aim to provide an opportunity for students to test their practical legal skills in a competition environment. Presently there is client interviewing (we don’t call it client consultation in New Zealand), witness examination, paper presentation, negotiation and mooting.

I started getting involved in these competitions in second year, as they were a great chance to get outside of my comfort zone and develop my practical legal skills. I was always particularly drawn to client interviewing because of the emphasis placed on developing one’s soft skills. A good client interviewer must actively listen to their client and really empathise with the difficult time the client may be going through.

In the competition, Lydia and I conducted a 45-minute interview. This involves greeting the client and establishing rapport with them, before taking them through some legal ethics, and getting them to share why they need to see a lawyer. We do not know what the client will be coming in with, so we have to be dynamic and listen carefully to them. Then we provide legal advice to them, and explain to them in a way so that they understand what their legal standing is.

Last year Lydia and I won the University competition for client interviewing, then competed at the New Zealand Law Students Society competition, where we got to meet students from all across the country and build connections. After winning the national competition, we qualified for the Brown Mosten international competition.

It was fascinating to meet delegates from all across the world, from Ukraine to Scotland to Indonesia. We learnt so much about how, despite us being all very different, the common thread of studying law meant we had a lot more in common than I could’ve expected. I made long-lasting friends and many of the delegates are very interested in coming to New Zealand for a visit.

While the competition rounds were intense, we also were lucky enough to be exposed to some of Maastricht’s beautiful culture. We went chocolate tasting, sampled baked flan, and went on a pancake cruise on the Maastricht river.

We felt extremely lucky to make it into the semi-finals for the competition, and we congratulate Team Ireland, who were the overall winners. I would’ve never guessed that my competing in the university competitions would ever lead to such an incredible opportunity. I really encourage university students to get outside of their comfort zone, and seize all the opportunities that are available to them. It can lead to amazing adventures and life-long connections being made. This has definitely been a highlight of my years here at Te Herenga Waka.