It is a truth universally acknowledged that the CEEMC winners are rewarded by a trip to Cambridge and London. A trip to visit the University of Cambridge and explore some parts of London was eagerly anticipated by us all. However, admittedly, our expectations hugely underestimated the wonderful experience our week in England would turn out to be.
We became impressed on our very first day, just after our arrival to London, when we set foot within the Hall of the Inner Temple, finding ourselves surrounded by what seemed like the interior of Hogwarts. Although Dumbledore did not show up, our enthusiasm did not weaken as we attended a presentational skills course with students training to become barristers. There, we were introduced to the intriguing aspects of body language, voice control and articulation. We discovered how the tips we learnt in a single afternoon helped us not only in mooting but also in everyday communication.
The second day started with a tour of the Inner Temple – a magical place breathing with history that has hosted lawyers since the 14th century. Did you know that the famous Magna Carta Libertatum was signed in the Temple Church? We could not help but envy the ancient traditions connecting the barristers to the Inner Temple, because our homeland – the Czech Republic lacks any such place or rituals. We had lunch with the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple, Mr. Patrick Maddams with whom our discussions ranged from the Inner Temple to our future legal profession and Brexit.
We were then greeted by Mr. Kieron Beal in the Blackstone Chambers and learnt further about the role of barristers in British judicial system. After visiting the Royal Courts of Justice, we headed for an afternoon tea with Lord Carnwath, a Supreme Court judge. Frankly, we felt pretty nervous about meeting an honoured British nobleman and feared we would commit some faux-pas. However, Lord Carnwath was really pleasant and tolerant to all our probable offences against the etiquette. We discussed, with deep interest, some of his recent cases, the role of the Supreme Court, and, of course, Brexit. After finishing the delicious tea and cookies, we were given a tour of the building and had the opportunity to admire the imposing library.
Full of impressions, we headed to Cambridge. Upon arrival to sunny Cambridge we settled in a house adjoining Emmanuel College. Seizing the opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds, we took pleasure at viewing the famous pond
and friendly ducks that strolled upon the lawn. In the afternoon we headed to the impressive Faculty of Law building where we met
Prof. Bill Cornish and Ms. Ann Smith. Ms. Smith provided us with invaluable guidance for the upcoming days and tips on places to visit throughout the day.
Wednesday morning was dedicated to a tour around Squire Law Library which was given by the chief librarian, Mr. David F. Wills. Steering us through an enormous collection of books, Mr. Wills showed us materials gathered within the library. As we became entangled with this remarkable collection of books, we almost caused another faux-pas in nearly being late for our meeting with Dr. Jennifer Davis. Our meeting took place at the grand Wolfson College where we tasted some traditional meals and spoke on current topics over a meal with Dr. Davis (not surprisingly, Brexit was one of the topics as well). As the weather was on our side, we spent the rest of day rambling through the marvellous streets of Cambridge, peeking into many stores, tempted by the many bookstores, and finally ventured through the various parks.
As if our previous experience was not pleasurable enough, our hospitable hosts arranged the possibility of attending lectures with other LL.M. students. Thus we felt duly welcomed as a part of Cambridge Faculty of Law even if it were only for a couple of days. This provided us with precious insight into the approach taken by Cambridge University, compared to our Faculty of Law. When we were not acting as LL.M. students, we balanced our time between the library and the city which was especially a difficult task given that sultry weather accompanied most of our stay. Time flew by so quickly that Friday evening came without hesitation. The evening was dedicated to an excellent dinner hosted by Prof. Cornish and Mrs. Cornish in their cosy house. It would be superfluous to delve into the details as you can imagine how splendid our dinner with generous hosts was. Mrs. Cornish was especially interested in differences between our countries and spoke highly of Prague which she and her husband had visited multiple times, even during the communist era. As the evening drew to a close and we bid thanks, our memories were left tinged with the warm generosity they had displayed. Before our departure, the next morning, we sat at the breakfast tables of Emmanuel College deeply reminiscent of the past few days. Despite this, the weather appeared intent on punishing us with rain greeting us as we embarked upon our journey home.
We were so delighted with the kindness, hospitality and interest of all the distinguished lawyers and other hosts we met. We are so grateful that they devoted their precious time to meet us and make us feel welcome as special guests. Succeeding in CEEMC has brought an unforgettable experience that everyone should endeavour his or her best to achieve, as it is not possible to sufficiently describe our experience with words.