Just over a year ago, the National Board of ELSA UK for the 2018-2019 term was elected to lead the network for the coming year, on a serene Sunday on the forested hills of the University of Stirling’s campus in Scotland. We were eight very ambitious and excited individuals who were ready for a new chapter in our lives, determined to move our national network forward and offer more ELSA opportunities to members nationwide. Our term officially started on 1 August, and ever since, we have been doing our utmost to further develop ELSA UK with our dedication and hard work. Now, as our term is nearing its end, we wish to use this opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved as a National Board of ELSA UK.
Throughout this year, every officer was very active in their own field, as well as part of the team. We put our best efforts to establish close relationships with the Local Groups and Local Officers, both individually and collectively, and to make everyone feel a part of the single network rather than individual societies. These efforts culminated in record high attendance of both the Autumn National Council Meeting (NCM) in Bristol, and Spring NCM in London. Our emphasis was on offering meaningful support and advice to Local Groups, rooted in our oft-repeated mantra of focusing on the quality rather than quantity of Local Groups. After all, it is the work of our Local Groups that makes ELSA UK a great network to be a part of.
We have also grown our network, helping sprouting ELSA initiatives to become part of our network and closing our term with 22 Local Groups spread across the UK. All our new Member and Observer Groups put a lot of effort and devotion into obtaining their status, and we hope they will continue doing great things with the same energy and enthusiasm.
Now onto more specific achievements and projects that we undertook.
Firstly, President and Secretary General, along with the Internal Management team, have gone through a long process of registering ELSA UK as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, drafting new ELSA UK Constitution, and consulting with our external counsel, Orrick LLP. With the help of the rest of the National Board, the process has finally finished, the new Constitution and the Decision Book of ELSA UK have been voted in by the National Council at NCM London, and we now await confirmation from the Charity Commission.
Our Key Areas were very busy as well. Our Vice President for Academic Activities Nikiana Lambert worked to sustain and improve our established projects in this field. In collaboration with ELSA Ireland, we organised the third annual Amicus Essay Competition. The competition is a fantastic opportunity for students to practice their essay writing skills and to critically engage with the legal issue of capital punishment, with the winner gaining work experience at the Amicus office in London. We further published the second edition of SCELR (the Student Comparative and European Law Review), another collaboration with our friends in ELSA Ireland, which offers students the opportunity to publish their academic work.
Apart from the written competitions, we have also enabled students to practice practical legal skills, such as mooting and negotiation.
This year we held the first ever ELSA UK Negotiation Competition, hosted by ELSA Bristol. Participants from all over the UK made their way to the University of Bristol to participate in the competition and hone their negotiation skills. The winning team was kindly offered a work experience opportunity with international law firm Osborne Clarke.
Our Vice President for Moot Court Competitions Sarah Ikast Kristoffersen put a lot of work into the first annual COMMOOT (the ELSA UK Commercial Law Moot Court Competition), which allowed students to exercise their oral advocacy skills and test their knowledge of financial law. Hosted by ELSA University College of London, COMMOOT was a great success with the winning team from the University of Oxford receiving generous prizes. The participant selected by the panel of judges as the Best Oralist was awarded a mini pupillage at Maitland Chambers in London. The London Human Rights Moot Court Competition was another chance for students to practice mooting, but this time on human rights issues. The event was not only our largest national mooting event but it also served as an Official Pre-Round of ELSA’s European Human Rights Moot Court Competition, allowing the participants to practice before a panel of judges with professional legal experience. The preliminary rounds were hosted by ELSA LSE, with our partner Orrick LLP graciously lending their offices for the finals. The competition was a resounding success, with teams travelling to London to participate from across the United Kingdom and Europe, including international teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Finland and Spain.
We are incredibly proud of the diverse events and opportunities we have been able to offer to our members this year. We hope all of these events will continue in future years and will develop further and grow with time.
For the third year running, ELSA Kent organised the UK’s only ELSA Law School,with great support from our Treasurer who has put hours of work into assisting the new Organising Committee and sharing his experience and knowledge with them. The week was filled with studying, fun and making new friends all across the continent.
Our events and competition do not tell the whole story of our year, our Vice President for STEP Meeri Toivanen has recruited new STEP providers, offering even more opportunities to members from all across the ELSA network’s 43 National Groups to gain professional legal experience in the UK. We have also launched our national internship programme, LEAP, which will offer legal internship opportunities through our partners to our UK members, as well.
With ambitious Key Area officers launching numerous nationwide projects, our board has relied heavily on the Supporting Area officers to ensure these events could be realised to their fullest extent. Our Vice President for Marketing Justinne Shoshana Leibovici made sure that every ELSA UK event was the talk of the town (i.e. the continent!), and our Treasurer made sure every spreadsheet column and row added up. The whole Board helped logistically and we are proud to say that all of the events and initiatives were a success.
Finally, we as a National Board have been active in the International Network. We were represented at all of ELSA’s Internal Meetings this term and did our part to ensure that the UK’s voice was heard in every workshop, plenary session, and Gala Dinner. We have taken part and influenced many decisions in ELSA, such as amendment of the Membership Fee formula, new International Conferences Regulation, discussions about the non-political status of ELSA to only name a few. We are proud to have contributed to the discussions to shape the future development of ELSA and to have engaged with the network we cherish. In particular, ELSA UK is beholden to those officers who devoted their time and efforts to attend all the meetings relevant to their portfolios.
Serving as a National Board during this term was not always easy; we faced and overcame many challenges, but we leave our posts having learned plenty of valuable lessons and acquired important skills. We have developed as ELSA officers and as individuals, and we are proud to have contributed to the development of our national and international network. We are very grateful for all the support that we received from the Local Groups, from our directors and our project-specific partners, without whom none of this would have been possible, but most importantly, we are very grateful for all the friendships that we have gained in the process and all the fun that we had.
We wish the new National Board all the best of luck, and we are positive that ELSA UK will continue growing and being as active and as successful., We also hope that ELSA UK will continue having fun and being an amazing platform for creation of friendships and networks across the continent.
For the last time, with ELSA Love,
Stela, Michael, Hendrik, Shoshana, Nikiana, Maira, Meeri & Sarah