Current research assistant profiles
Every year, our research assistants come from all areas and backgrounds. Find out about some of this year’s intake, and what they think about the job, below:
Team: Property, Family and Trust Law
Degree: BA Law; LLM in European and International Human Rights Law
University: University of Cambridge (BA); Leiden University, Netherlands (LLM)
Previous work experience: I had done a few family law mini-pupillages, a bit of paid and unpaid research, and taught law to foreign university students for a few weeks. Other than that, I worked as a lifeguard, and in various cafés and pubs.
Project: Commonhold (under the umbrella of “Residential leasehold and commonhold”)
What are your future plans? I’m hoping to start the Bar course next September (if I can cobble together some funding!). Otherwise, I’m thinking of applying to the European Court of Human Rights for a traineeship, or to various NGOs in the UK or the Netherlands for an internship.
Tell us about a recent piece of work: I drafted a series of three memos relating to whether the commonhold community statement prevents certain restrictions on sale, and the types of restrictions that may be imposed over commonhold units.
Why would you recommend working at the Commission? One thing I was told during my induction has stuck with me: though you might go on to become barristers or solicitors or something else entirely, you may never again be in a position to make the law, rather than simply apply it. The Law Commission is pretty unique in this regard; we research law and policy, and thereby (hopefully!) contribute to future laws that will impact millions of people. It’s still a bit mind-boggling for me whenever I stop to think about it!
Best thing about working at the Law Commission: I’ll mention the three best things, because I couldn’t choose between them. First, the amount of responsibility that I’ve been given as a new RA is incredible. I’ve only been here for a couple of months, but I’ve already drafted nine memos, taken minutes, and proofread policy papers. Second, the work itself is super interesting; if you are a bit of a law geek (!) with an eye for detail, then this is the place for you! Third, there’s also a lot of flexibility within the Property, Family and Trust Law team, so I’ve done a lot more than just commonhold work.
How did you hear about the job?A few of my undergraduate lecturers and supervisors had previously worked at the Law Commission, and I also talked to some recent RAs at a “public interest law” career event.
How did you find the application process? I remember going through several drafts for my answers to the competency questions. I also really enjoyed the written test that we complete shortly before interview. However, and being completely honest here: I’m not very good at interviews, so I found this stage quite daunting, especially as it was conducted remotely.
Tips for applicants: (1) Don’t be put off applying by a relative lack of work experience, or by the university you went to (in any event, the process is university-blind this year). We’re all at different stages, so just draw out the skills and lessons you’ve gained from whatever experiences you may have had, and apply them to the questions. That said, don’t forget that you’re applying to be a “research” assistant! (2) Start your application early; I drafted and re-drafted my answers several times, and did a few proofreads of my written answers. (3) The standard advice applies about reading/listening to and really answering the question, being simple and concise with your language (both spoken and written), and structuring your answers well. (4) Try to really convey your enthusiasm and motivation—why do you want to work in this role? Which current projects are you interested in, and why?
Team: Public Law and the Law in Wales
Degree: Law (European Legal Studies) LLB
University: Newcastle University
Previous work experience: After university, I spent 18 months working in New Zealand as a paralegal for the government and in private practice. This provided a useful insight for comparatively analysing the law in different jurisdictions. I also gained experience at university through vacation schemes and mini-pupillages, as well as volunteering pro-bono to provide presentations to disadvantaged children and young people, and to offer legal advice to terminally ill clients.
Project: Automated Vehicles
What are your future plans? My aspirations are to become a barrister specialising in public law and human rights. I hope to secure pupillage this year.
Tell us about a recent piece of work: I’ve been working towards publication of the Automated Vehicles report by drafting and proofing chapters. The chapter I’ve focused on considers the current regulation of misleading marketing and its application to driver support features (such as cruise control). In the chapter, I analyse the current law, explain why it is unsatisfactory and recommend new criminal offences to overcome the issue of drivers being misled into not paying attention.
Why would you recommend working at the Commission? The work is fascinating. Quite often no easy answer exists to research questions and senior colleagues ask you to form a view based on your findings. This can be challenging for complex research questions. Your ideas and proposals are then put to the test by colleagues, and stakeholders may be asked to provide feedback. This all takes place in a friendly, collegiate manner and allows you to improve your oral and written advocacy by thinking about how you express your ideas, particularly when counteracting opposing arguments. For me, this has provided great training for becoming a barrister, though being an analytical thinker is beneficial to many professions.
Best thing about working at the Law Commission: The chance to make a real difference. It has been incredible to witness my research influencing Law Commission thinking and policy on legal issues and to know that I played a part in the law reform recommendations made to Government.
How did you hear about the job?I was always interested in working at the Law Commission after my undergraduate research led me to read a number of Law Commission reports. After visiting the Law Commission’s stand at a pupillage fair, I decided to apply.
How did you find the application process? The process was daunting at the time. However, at each stage, I was provided with clear instructions and knew what was expected of me. Read the guide for applicants and then read it again! It contains so much useful information and helped me to break the application process down into manageable parts where I could really focus on selling myself at each stage.
Tips for applicants: Give yourself plenty of time to draft the paper application. Think about what makes you unique and explain how this would benefit the Commission. Then focus your attention on redrafting and redrafting again! Use simple language, be concise and follow a logical order. We aim to make the law simple, modern and accessible so your written application is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to achieve this aim.
Team: Criminal Law
Degree: LLB Law with Criminology, and MSc International Social and Public Policy
University: Royal Holloway University of London, and the London School of Economics and Political Science
Previous work experience: While studying, I volunteered as a legal adviser and policy researcher at Citizens Advice, marshalled at the Old Bailey, and completed criminal mini pupillages.
Project: I am working on two projects: reform of the communications offences; and taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent.
What are your future plans? I hope to continue working in legal policy, particularly relating to criminal justice and gender.
Tell us about a recent piece of work: I am analysing responses to our consultation on the intimate images project, and recently led a policy discussion within the team to develop our final recommendations based on those responses.
Why would you recommend working at the Commission? Working at the Law Commission provides a fairly rare opportunity to deal with issues at the intersection between law and policy; not only do we consider legal questions, but also their wider policy implications.
Best thing about working at the Law Commission: I have loved meeting other like-minded people with similar interests and goals, and I have also valued the non-hierarchical workplace culture; both have made me feel very comfortable at the Law Commission.
How did you hear about the job? Through my undergraduate university.
How did you find the application process? The written application was fairly straightforward, though still daunting! While the test and interview were intense, I enjoyed both as they required us to deconstruct the law and consider its various policy implications.
Tips for applicants: In addition to the classic application advice, I think it is really important to convey your passion for the role. Showing that you genuinely care about the area of law, the topics you may end up working on, and the effect your work may have on others will go a long way!