Making a murderer

from left to right: Jerry Buting, Kirsty Brimelow QC and Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

Defense attorney Jerry Buting from cult Netflix series ‘Making a Murderer’ took part in a live Q&A event with our Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, and Visiting Professor Kirsty Brimelow QC

The popular Netflix series has made a huge impact on television audiences worldwide, igniting political debate and bringing the US criminal justice system to the forefront of conversation across an enormous and varied spectrum of viewers. It has rapidly become one of the most important TV series of our time.

Jerry ButingIn what proved a very thought-provoking event, that was brought to Goldsmiths by the Student Union with the support of our department of Law, conversation focused on analysis of the Steven Avery case; the systematic failures of the American criminal justice system that it has brought to the surface; comparisons with miscarriages of justice and suspects’ rights in the UK criminal justice system.

Professor Giannoulopoulos, whose cross-cultural research centres on defendants’ rights, and whose recent monograph explored in detail judicial remedies for violations of suspects’ rights at the police station, moderated the discussion.

Spotlight on our team: Dr Alex Dymock

We are always delighted to showcase the research of our academics in this blog. This time, the spotlight is on Dr Alex Dymock’s recent work.

Alex’s work is primarily concerned with gender, sexuality and crime and her latest publication is a chapter on defending pornography in the criminal courts for the Research Handbook in Gender, Sexuality and Law. The Handbook explores current debates in the area of gender, sexuality and the law, and points the way for future socio-legal research and scholarship.

Book: Gender, sexuality and the Law

Alex has also been busy disseminating findings from her project, Pharmacosexuality: the Past, Present and Future of Sex on Drugs, at conferences as far afield as San Francisco, USA and Johannesburg in South Africa.

She has also been invited to present her work at Public Health England, and been interviewed for the second season of the Drug Science podcast, which regularly attracts a global audience of over 250,000 listeners (her episode on sex and drugs will be part of season 2, released April 2020).

She was also recently invited to attend the first national conference on chemsex and criminal justice hosted by the Metropolitan Police.

From Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court

ICTY Through Children’s Eyes – Sarajevo Kids Festival 2014
Edin, 14 years old, Sarajevo.

Our LLB Law class had the privilege of being taught by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC this week. Sir Geoffrey, who is a Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths, has led on the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where the former President of Serbia was charged with crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war, including for planning, instigating, ordering or otherwise aiding the widespread killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, during and after the take-over of territories within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the killing of thousands in detention facilities there or for the forcible removal of the majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from the approximately one-third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia that he planned to become part of a new Serb-dominated state.

Against the backdrop of such seminal experience, that defined the development of international criminal law at the beginning of this century, Sir Geoffrey undertook a historic review of international criminal law, focussing on several milestones: from the post WWII Nuremberg trials to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the setting up of the international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and, more recently, the International Criminal Court.

Sir Geoffrey’s presentation also focussed on his work as chair of the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting  from Prisoners of Conscience in China (murdering prisoners to extract hearts, livers, kidneys etc for commercial transplantation surgery).

The lecture was delivered in the context of ‘English Legal System in a Global Context’ module, which has the key aim of introducing our students to UK legal institutions, but goes further than what is normally covered in introductory modules of this nature, in comparing and contrasting UK legal institutions to foreign legal systems and in international law, with a view to enhancing the students’ knowledge of, and ability to critically analyse, how our domestic institutions operate and creating, more generally, a cosmopolitan legal spirit, that ensures we understand there is more to ‘Law’ than our domestic legal institutions and processes.

Sir Geoffrey presented his lecture in conversation with the Head of the Law programme at Goldsmiths, Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos. The lecture was delivered online, in an interactive format, as a response to the emerging Coronavirus crisis. Students had the opportunity to ask several questions and expressed their excitement for Sir Geoffrey’s invaluable contribution.


LLB students visit Linklaters LLP’s headquarters in the City

As part of their commercial awareness and career development study trips embedded within the Contract Law module, all our LLB students recently got a chance to visit Linklaters LLP’s headquarters in the City.

Founded in 1838, Linklaters is a member of the ‘Magic Circle’ of elite London law firms, and employs more than 2,500 lawyers across 38 offices in 20 countries. Its lawyers have expertise in a wide variety of matters, including corporate and commercial, competition, banking, business and human rights, dispute resolution, crisis management, financial regulation, projects, tax, capital markets, employment, and real estate.

Our students’ visit was hosted by Ms Sima Ostrovsky, a Managing Associate in the competition team. Ms Ostrovsky educated our students about various aspects of competition law that Linklaters lawyers deal with, explained the repercussions of violating competition regulations, and provided examples of some recent deals (such as last year’s proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda). She shared with the students how much she enjoys learning about the various industries in which her clients work, and explained how practicing competition law has enabled her to work with regulators, economics, and various service providers. As a competition lawyer at such a power-house law firm, Ms Ostrovsky not only advises clients on how to comply with competition law, but also devotes time to forward-looking practice, such as figuring out how competition law should develop to take account of new types of industries (such as Big Tech) and new political developments (such as Brexit).

Ms Ostrovsky and a trainee then provided the students with an overview of a day in the life of a Linklaters senior attorney and a trainee in the competition group, engaged in various aspects of competition practice (including mergers control, anti-competitive arrangements, and abuse of dominance). Learning about Linklaters’ work on cutting-edge legal issues and big global deals provided our students with a nice complement to what they had learned about in-house competition practice during their visit to Facebook last month.

Next, the Linklaters recruitment team was kind enough to offer our students an application workshop. The helpful HR representative explained what Linklaters vacation schemes are available to LLB students, and advised on how to do well with the application process and on assessment day. Notably, our students were provided with tips on how best to prepare themselves for applying and interviewing at big law firms generally. Students learned about how to translate their work and uni experiences into skills that law firms look for in potential trainees. They left more knowledgeable about what they can be doing from the beginning of their participation in our LLB programme to prepare for applying to law firms in the future.

Our study visit also included a tour of the client areas of the office, which occupies an entire modern high-rise building across from the Barbican Centre.

LLB students visit Facebook London’s law department

Goldsmiths LLB students learn about competition law and in-house corporate legal practice during visit to Facebook London.

Goldsmiths LLB students visited Facebook’s London law department, as part of their career development study trips in the context of the Year 1 ‘Contract Law’ module. The social media giant, based in California, also owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, and is considered one of the Big Four technology companies (along with Amazon, Apple, and Google).

Located on six floors in a world-class facility near Euston, Facebook’s office offers a modern space designed to keep both employees and visitors happy. After signing non-disclosure agreements, our students attended an informative and fun talk by Ms Jantira Raftery, Competition Counsel on Facebook’s legal team which covers competition and antitrust matters across Europe. She talked briefly about the company and all its key products, and provided an overview of competition law and what she does to help ensure that Facebook does not engage in anti-competitive market behaviour. Prior to joining Facebook, Ms Raftery had worked in the competition group at Slaughter and May (one of London’s ‘Magic Circle’ firms), and in Brussels and New York offices of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (a prestigious multinational law firm). She was thus also able to offer insights into how legal practice varies between law firms and in-house corporate departments, and shed light on international practice of law.

Afterwards, our students were led on a tour of the Facebook office by its super friendly staff. They got to write their aims and aspirations on the ‘facebook wall’, for other visitors and employees to see. They were also introduced to various art and community projects that Facebook supports, and shown examples of the value that Facebook brings to small businesses. After posing for pictures and getting to play with some ground-breaking interactive technologies, our students were treated to sweets and posters, part of Facebook’s emphasis on creativity and on keeping their office fun. The students left inspired about not only competition law, but also corporate legal careers. We are very grateful to Facebook’s legal department and Ms Raftery for offering our students this opportunity.

Law programme gains attention at international event in Istanbul


Our Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, has spoken at an international study event at the British Consulate in Istanbul, about the exciting educational and career development opportunities that come with studying Law in the UK, highlighting Goldsmiths LLB’s modern and innovative character; the integration of career development and experiential learning activities (such as study visits, mock trials, debating exercises, guest lectures by eminent legal professionals) into contact time in all modules of the LLB Law programme, its focus on studying law in its societal context, the dynamic team of academics and world renowned legal professionals it brings together…

Prof Giannoulopoulos spoke alongside representatives from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, who presented on the Oxbridge admission processes.

Liberty’s Martha Spurrier to LLB class: “We must keep the Human Rights Act intact”

Martha Spurrier to Goldsmiths’ LLB Law students: “Rules affecting our human rights can sometimes be unfair and the law inadequate. You must be prepared to challenge unfair rules and campaign for their change”

In line with our approach of teaching Law in its socio-political context and exposing students to key players in the legal and political process, we had the great pleasure of hosting Martha Spurrier in the Year 1 ‘Public Law and the Human Rights Act’ module, coordinated by Goldsmiths’ Dr Virginie Barral.

Martha was appointed earlier this year Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths. She is the Director of the UK’s leading human rights NGO Liberty and a human rights lawyer specialising in questions of access to justice, freedom of expression, children and women’s rights, and the rights of prisoners and immigration detainees.

In her lecture, Martha discussed how the Human Rights Act had changed the way civil servants and judges make decisions on a day to day basis, noting that a remarkable undocumented impact of the Act has been on the way public servants have integrated the concepts of rights in the way they interact with people.

Confronting students with current debates about updating the Human Rights Act (in line with the Conservative government’s 2019 election manifesto), Martha brought to light the inadequacy of the common law to protect fundamental rights effectively and insisted on the importance of keeping the Human Rights Act intact.

She also pointed out that rules can sometimes be unfair and the law inadequate. She encouraged students to be prepared to challenge unfair rules and campaign for their change.

Martha also deplored the lack of attention and interest paid in the UK to economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to food, shelter, or health whilst the financial crisis and deepening socio-economic inequalities have brought these in sharp relief with more families unable to feed themselves decently. She called for more radical thinking about socio-economic rights and drew from the work of Andrew Fagan to show that poverty and destitution often mean lack of access to civil and political rights. A higher level of protection of socio-economic rights was thus necessary to ensure fuller civil and political rights protection.

Martha predicted that alongside the climate crisis, which raises obvious fundamental rights questions, the future direction of rights protection and campaigning in the UK will focus on socio-economic rights and that Liberty was certainly thinking very hard about this.

We are delighted with Martha’s appointment as a Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths, and are very excited to be working with her and Liberty, in our attempt to confront our students with major socio-political and economic challenges that we’re facing in the UK today.

Mock murder trial at the RCJ: defendant “guilty” and “sentenced to life imprisonment”

LLB Law cohort at the Royal Courts of Justice (January 2020)

29 January 2020

Goldsmiths Law students in Year 1 of the LLB Law programme took part in a mock murder trial at the Royal Courts of Justice today, during the second RCJ visit of the LLB Law cohort this year.

The mock trial concerned a joint enterprise murder case. Students undertook the roles of judge, barristers, witnesses, clerk and jury, and were provided with background to the case and scripts to work from.

With a little prompting from the National Justice Museum facilitator, mock barristers questioned and cross-examined eight witnesses to establish the chain of events that led to the killing, the relationship between co-defendants and victim, and the specifics of the crime scene.

Jurors were provided with evidence of CCTV footage of the co-defendants fleeing the scene, and were asked to assess witness testimony on the basis of whether it helped establish whether the offence of murder had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The defendant was found guilty by the jury and was duly sentenced to life imprisonment.

The study visit and mock trial were part of the ‘English Legal System in a Global Context’ Year 1 module which introduces students to key legal institutions and concepts, and to relevant institutional parties and practice. Goldsmiths Law’s Dr Alex Dymock offered guidance to the students during the trial.

We are thankful to the National Justice Museum, for coordinating the mock trial and study visit, and our continued collaboration.

Counsel to the Joint Committee on Human Rights teaches Public Law class, on Parliament’s relationship with human rights

Eleanor Hourigan

In line with Goldsmiths Law’s continuous effort to teach Law in its socio-political context, exposing students to key players in the legal and political process, the department had the great pleasure of hosting Eleanor Hourigan in the “Public Law and the Human Rights Act” module in Year 1 of the LLB Law programme, coordinated by Dr Virginie Barral.

Eleanor is counsel to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, which scrutinises every Government Bill for its compatibility with human rights, including the rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protected in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, common law fundamental rights and liberties and the human rights contained in other international obligations of the UK.

In her guest lecture, Eleanor discussed the role that Parliament has in respecting and enforcing human rights in the UK, with a focus on the work of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.  She asked students to consider the extent to which UK legislation has to comply with domestic and international human rights and how Parliament can ensure this is the case.

Confronting students with the historic debate on the potential creation of a UK Bill of Rights or wider effort to update the Human Rights Act and review existing constitutional structures underpinning and defining the government’s human rights obligations (in line with the Conservative government’s 2019 election manifesto), Eleanor also asked whether there is an “ownership” issue in the UK with human rights due to the method of drafting of the Human Rights Act compared to other State’s Bills of Rights.

Eleanor was previously the Deputy Permanent Representative and Legal Adviser at the UK Delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (2016-2018), representing the UK in Council of Europe negotiations concerning justice matters and human rights matters – including the “DH” (Droits de l’Homme) meetings on the execution of ECtHR judgments.

In term I in Public Law and the Human Rights Act, students had another fascinating encounter with legal practice in Parliament, when the Counsel for Domestic Legislation, Daniel Greenberg, delivered a lecture on drafting legislation in the House of Commons.

LLB Law students gain invaluable work experience in North London commercial set

Students on placement

Year 1 LLB Law students, Larah Otoo and Henry Norman, have just returned from a short placement with Darlingtons Solicitors LLP, a dynamic commercial set in North London.

The students had written the two essays in the 21st Century Legal Skills module – about modern legal practice in solicitor firms – which were awarded the placements.

LLB Law student Henry Norman, doing work for the Property department

Henry worked with the property team, dealing with Land registry and HMRC, and the Litigation team, where his tasks included looking at commercial property underleases and agreements to lease, going through a leasehold checklist and extracting a ‘break clause’, a ‘Rent Review clause’ and an ‘LTA 1954 s24-28 exemption clause’, with the purpose of inserting them into a new lease for a commercial property; the lease was sent out to the client and Henry received thanks for his hard-work.

In reflecting on the short placement experience that he hugely enjoyed, Henry said:

“Having worked at Darlingtons for the past week; being immersed into the community life of a small law firm, where everyone knows everyone, where people walk between floors to ask the advice of their colleagues, where everyone works to the betterment of themselves and those around them for the common goal of furthering their career but also representing the firm they work so tirelessly for; I am so intrigued by the thought of, upon completion of the remainder of my degree, working in a firm like Darlingtons, a small family-like firm, where despite the stress of clients and other firms, you still get up every day to do better, and be the best lawyer you can be”.

Larah Otoo, on placement at Darlingtons

Larah Otoo said:

“My week at Darlingtons has been an enriching and unforgettable experience. The environment of the firm was close-knit and supportive, which was immediately evident from the moment I arrived. All members of staff were willing to spend time with me answering any questions and giving great advice which allowed me to feel like part of the community.

I learnt so much in my week there from spending time in the property department and litigation department, as well as reading a variety of cases relating to employment law and settlements. A highlight would include drafting a contract for a client which allowed me to apply knowledge I have learnt in the Contract Law module.

This placement has allowed me to gain an accurate representation of what working in the world of law is like and the positive experience has encouraged me to pursue a career as a solicitor in the future.”

Craig Sharpe, business development manager at Darlingtons, praised the students for their open mindedness and eagerness to learn: “both demonstrated a very mature approach, willingness and openness which are key traits of modern lawyers; and were credit to themselves and to Goldsmiths”.

Goldsmiths Law offers its students a wide range of opportunities to gain professional insights and is appreciative of the collaborations, such as with Darlingtons Solicitors LLP, that enable this.