Art of Persuasion: Testimonials
‘Whilst working for the David Ross Education Trust, I was privileged to be involved with the Art of Persuasion education programme from the onset when it was piloted at one of DRET’s academies 3 years ago. Since then, these workshops have become an intrinsic part of DRET’s enrichment programme, with Kalisher trustees now delivering workshops to all DRET’s secondary academies around the UK. These very engaging and hands-on workshops, delivered by eminent groups of barristers, QCs and judges, help prepare young people for life after school by enabling them to develop sound investigative skills, put forward clear and concise arguments and build their confidence in presenting to an audience – all valuable life-skills. Throughout the course of the workshop, set in small groups, the students benefit from building a rapport with their Kalisher trustees and for those particularly interested in a career in the legal profession, they have the opportunity to undertake a ‘mini-pupilage’ with a barrister, to gain insight into their world. In addition, students attending a workshop are often invited to attend trial hearings at their local crown court which is a fabulous opportunity for them to witness a real-life case in action. To have access to such unique opportunities is undoubtedly a huge privilege for these young people and, regardless of whether they ultimately follow a career in the law, they will have acquired some immensely valuable skills to prepare them for life beyond the classroom.’ Marcia Mercier (enrichment coordinator and trustee of the David Ross Education Trust)
What the pupils say: (Taken from confidential questionnaires written after the event)
‘In school today, I got the chance to participate in the Kalisher project. This is about inspiring young people to get involved in law and politics and to explain what being a lawyer/solicitor/barrister is about. Today, I have learned how to think logically and argue effectively. This can help me be more explanatory when I make a point and it will make me more persuasive. I have also learned the difference between a lawyer, solicitor and a barrister. I have also learned what really happens in court. Kalisher taught me multiple skills such as how to analyse sides of an argument, how to phrase certain sentences to get your point across clearly and how to present myself in court. I enjoyed the group exercises as I felt involved and the leaders made me feel mature as they talked to me as if I were their age rather than talking to me as a teenager. I am normally quite quiet when it comes to speaking out loud to a group, but today the Kalisher trust taught me how to use a confident and convincing voice by demonstrating it to me. Even though I might not become a lawyer, I will take the skills that I learnt today and use them in whatever profession that I choose to do when I am older. I felt extremely proud when Lady Justice Rafferty said that I was a born lawyer. Overall I really enjoyed today and I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.
Our first activity was to sit with a Barrister in groups trying to develop our speaking skills, learning to speak more clearly and to get our point across to people with less words and time. During the day we were treated with refreshments and were moving consistently so we were engaged and still had interest in what was going. In our groups we were given an argument which we were either in favour for or against. For example my group were given the argument for to come to school late every Friday at 10:30. Whilst in our groups we learnt about different criminal offences and how they would be dealt with in court. In our teams we all learned how to think logically and in the view point of a Barrister. The thing I enjoyed the most was when had to decide if Harry Bentley was guilty of burgling a television set. Furthermore when we had to work on the case of our friend who takes a £5 note from a bag and dumping the bracelet inside the bag and the bag itself. Overall I enjoyed this experience extremely and had a tremendous time. I’ve learnt and developed my speaking and presenting skills which may help me in my future career or careers. After doing all this today it has made me consider the thought of going and working in law a bit and maybe to become a Barrister. One thing I will always remember are the skills we received from The Barristers working with our sets and how the jury makes decisions. Now that know the difference between a lawyer, solicitor and barrister, I know who to turn to first when stuck in a legal situation.
I will never forget the skills I was taught today as they can help me in the future eg: If I need to do public speaking in class; if I need to argue my point in court or if I need help making an ethical decision in life. The role-plays showed me that it is very hard proving your point as there are many points of views/sides to the same argument. The only disadvantage was that it did not last long enough!
On the 23rd July I was visited by the Kalisher Scholarship Trust and I learnt skills such as; learning to communicate clearly by identifying the difference between statements which can be perceived in two different ways as it has an uncertain message and a very clearly set out statement; how to conduct yourself in court whilst presenting yourself to a judge; the difference between ethic and moral rights alongside many more. I enjoyed the group work activities as it allowed me to speak up. This was because we worked in small groups of around 5-6 which allowed it to be much easier to be heard and understood. The people from the Kalisher Trust were also welcoming and helped us to develop our points which enabled us to deliver them to the bigger group with confidence. I also enjoyed watching the re-enactments of court cases and trials as it demonstrated what I should expect if I entered the law career field. This experience allowed me to become more certain that I want to pursue a career in law.
When we talked to the barristers, they told us about how they got into law and what the pathways they took to reach field of work. They answered a lot of our questions (they informed us why the barristers wear black gowns and weird wigs). I enjoyed the workshop because the barristers treated us like people rather than ignorant children. I learnt new vocabulary today such as the words mitigate which means to make less severe or serious. I enjoyed presenting the speech which has encouraged me to continue working on my speaking and listening skills. This workshop hasn’t changed my opinion in what I want to do with my life but it has encouraged me to perfect skills that are important in any job I decide to do. It was also very interactive. For example in one of the court demonstrations, we had to take the place of the jury and try to make the correct verdict considering the evidence, the witness and the defendant’s story. When we took part in this demonstration I learnt that most things seem simple at first but in fact they’re actually quite complicated. I enjoyed taking part in this workshop and I would like to take part in something like this again.
When we talked to the barristers, they told us about how they got into law and what the pathways they took to reach field of work. They answered a lot of our questions (they informed us why the barristers wear black gowns and weird wigs). I enjoyed the workshop because the barristers treated us like people rather than ignorant children. I learnt new vocabulary today such as the words mitigate which means to make less severe or serious. I enjoyed presenting the speech which has encouraged me to continue working on my speaking and listening skills. This workshop hasn’t changed my opinion in what I want to do with my life but it has encouraged me to perfect skills that are important in any job I decide to do. It was also very interactive. For example in one of the court demonstrations, we had to take the place of the jury and try to make the correct verdict considering the evidence, the witness and the defendant’s story. When we took part in this demonstration I learnt that most things seem simple at first but in fact they’re actually quite complicated. I enjoyed taking part in this workshop and I would like to take part in something like this again. I have learnt that I can achieve anything and use the skills of a lawyer-or a person in court- to excel in my future. For instance thinking logically and having a legal cast of mind can be used in daily life and across the board. Whether I want to work in a court based jobs the Kalisher trust group helped me to realise that the skill of persuasion can get me far. One of the main things I have learnt that will stick with me is to ‘Focus on what is important, develop and keep it in mind and forget the unnecessary parts’.
What the barristers, judges and academics say:
‘To say this was a hugely rewarding experience is an understatement. I had the benefit of not only being the teacher, but also of being taught both by Kalisher colleagues and by the participants themselves. Those who we went to teach blossomed in front of our very eyes, evolving in an incredibly short period of time from shy and reluctant individuals into articulate and thoughtful young people. it is not a perfect cure all but it is a fantastic start that opens the eyes of all participants and has exposed many to aspirations that would otherwise would have been outside of their thinking. I have personally mentored two young women one of whom now has a training contract in a top law firm, something she never considered herself capable of doing. I too have gained so much from my experiences on this programme that I believe every barrister in practice would benefit from participation.’ Caroline Braid/Haughy
‘The Art of Persuasion programme is where young students find their voice, and where they stand tall. From first to last, the focus is on the students, and the memorable moments comprise bursts of advocacy from those who may have previously spoken in a school debate or appeared in a school play, but who have not considered how to articulate an argument in quite the way the programme requires. The structured approach to persuasive advocacy, used by courtroom advocates every day, is unfamiliar to the classroom. Without doubt, it equips students with thinking skills and powers of articulation which should help them in future at testing times, whether they be academic exams or vocational training. I have without exception been astonished by the receptiveness of pupils to the programme. It seems remarkable how much of schooling involves academic learning without practical application to real life experiences and what all pupils who undergo and most importantly participate in the programme quickly perceive is that these are skills for life; for real life.
What is in it for the Kalisher Trust? The next generation of stars at the Bar will include some who have been through the Art of Persuasion programme, I have no doubt. Inspiration aplenty. Per ardua ad astra.’ Max Hardy
‘Seeing bright and determined pupils engage with new ideas ad activities – often having to be brave and try something they’d never encountered before – has been a real privilege.’ Max Hill QC
‘It’s obvious that the constituent parts that go to make up the Art of Persuasion are impressive – top judges and leading silks giving their time, and carefully crafted exercises designed to educate and entertain in equalish measures. But having done my first stint as a trainer, I realise that the Art of Persuasion is better than the sum of those parts. It succeeds in turning a collection of disparate and slightly self-conscious teenagers into a cohesive group of expressive and engaged young advocates. That doesn’t happen because they are dazzled by the talent (‘Do I really have to call her “My Lady”? I’m not going to do that.’) but because they are inspired by it, and by each other. And that made a midweek trip to a rainy Corby very worthwhile.’ Jacob Hallam
‘In sum, my view of the Art of Persuasion programme is informed by its positive outcomes. There are the tangible outcomes: the programme attracts acclaim from the institutions it serves. There are also the intangible outcomes. The improvement in the students’ confidence and engagement over the course of every workshop that I have attended is remarkable. The trustees extol the value of each participants’ own contribution with genuine interest. Whilst the trustees steer any workshop, the students themselves are encouraged to provide the propulsion. In this way students internalise the benefits of the programme rather than observe the programme’s aims. This approach is continually honed and informed by the experience and infectious enthusiasm of the Educational Director.‘ Will Hotham
‘In the last group I had one of the girls was painfully shy and one of the boys had an uncle serving a 22 year prison sentence. It was so rewarding to see the group working together to produce public pieces and to find that every participant gained in confidence. One or two of them turned out to have a rather impressive turn of phrase, I took some lessons!‘ Bobbie Cheema QC
‘It has given me an insight into the difficulties which can face pupils in disadvantaged areas, which may be compounded by lack of familial support or understanding of academic achievement.’ Dr Camilla Darling
‘Taking part in the ‘Art of Persuasion’ for the first time has been a real eye opener for me. The willingness and enthusiasm of pupils to become involved in the discussions is in direct contrast to the way teenagers are popularly portrayed. The way in which initial reluctance about public speaking and presenting the group’s ideas gave way to willingness and confidence over the course of the morning was not something I had expected: It was a delight to see.’ Joanna Brownhill
The Art of Persuasion: an appeal court judge’s verdict: LLJ Anne Rafferty DBE
A Kalisher advance party arrived in the afternoon of Monday 24th September and met staff. The set-up of the hall and facilities were reviewed. In the evening and again on Tuesday further rehearsals for all presenters were held. We arrived at the school at 0800 for a 0900 start. There were about 45 students in the hall aged 15-17. The beginning was designed and scripted with drama in mind. We wanted to waken the students who would be less than alert at that hour. Staff very publicly took out from the hall Alec Young, a pupil who had been prepped. He was the last person the school would expect to have gone in for serious cyber-bullying. Trustees then acted the parts of a Det. Chief Inspector, aggrieved family, and incandescent mother of wrongly accused Alec. When “mother” stormed in, the audience realised it was a fiction, but by then they had been “caught”. Thereafter the trustees resumed normal appearance and voice and moved into an explanation of why they were there. The emphasis was not on urging a career in law. That was either secondary or an optional extra. The point was clearly made and maintained throughout the day that the object was to teach forensic skills. Our impression was that NOT being there to advocate a career in the law was an advantage. Letting it emerge consequentially was good.
The personal interaction with trustees would of itself have been useful but not as useful without the backdrop of the performances. In total, but with differing emphasis, the exercises showed the difference between argument and dispute, clarity of expression, the difference between proposition and proof, the dangers of sloppy use of syntax, and the advantages of structured presentation. As expected, the students took some warming up. We designed the first groupings of six plus one trustee to come after the first exercise and it loosened them up effectively. They introduced themselves and talked to “their” trustee about life, the law and made the invaluable point of informal contact. By the second group session the effects of the day up to that point were striking. By now relaxed and confident they were already (at 1120 after a 0900 start) thinking analytically and probing for information and approach. By the end of the morning they were buzzing. Confidential evaluation questionnaires were ready for the students which they threw themselves into. The trustees then made themselves available at the back of the hall and many of the young stayed with them to discuss the law and other things that had come out of the morning.
I sat with a round table of six who had kidnapped me and bombarded me with questions. They knew virtually nothing about the legal profession. Caroline H. talked for nearly half an hour with two in particular. By the time she left at least two had been given mini-pupillages with her and she had agreed to help with various UCAS personal statements. One stunning outcome was that after a long talk to her, one student raised her aspirations and will apply to Oxbridge.
I have done eleven drafts of UCAS personal statements over e mail subsequently. Alec Young was invited to come to the Kalisher Lecture on October 16th in London to absorb more of how the legal profession works. He was just about to do his NLAT (legal aptitude test for Oxford) and Alex Dowty, a pupil, had done it. Alec came to London the following day and saw Alex for practice, then went to Harry Bentley (a young practitioner) for the afternoon. He too will have a mini-pupillage before the end of the year. AR has worked closely with him on his UCAS personal statement, Euan Clarke (director of education) gave him a gruelling Oxbridge mock interview and follow up advice.
All in all it was a remarkable day. Little beats the sight of youngsters demolishing the arguments of Lords Justice of Appeal. After fewer than 100 minutes on the Art of Persuasion, they have the confidence to challenge and to persist. On such Kalisher outreach days, I’m generally trounced. It’s wonderful.