When life gives you lemons… Using lockdown to your advantage – Weronika Kolodziej

‘I always knew that I wanted to make the most of lockdown. I wanted to treat COVID-19 as an opportunity, and use the pandemic to increase my advocacy and employability skills’. Weronika Kolodziej, Campus Ambassador for BARBI International, outlines how she took control of her employability over lockdown and set up her own virtual advocacy competition.

I attended a number of events during lockdown, from virtual webinars to participating in virtual advocacy sessions including moots and bail applications. After participating in the virtual bail application, I decided to take my feedback further and host a virtual bail application of my own. I wanted to create an opportunity for students to participate regardless of whether they had any previous experience or how strong their argument was. This blog is a quick explanation of how I did it and how it went.

The purpose behind this exercise was to give the participants a taste of a virtual bail application, judicial intervention and different ways of responding to a challenging situation. I received interest from over 40 students who participated and held over 10 advocacy sessions varying between 1-4 sessions a day. Students included both undergraduates to postgraduates. We also had several international participants. Students acted on behalf of the defence asking for a grant of bail for the defendant who was accused of robbery. I created a vague scenario which allowed students get a feel of ‘Pupilage style situations’ and allow participants to be creative with additional facts of the scenario.

I am extremely grateful to all legal practitioners and Derby lecturers who have given up their free time, supported me during this exercise, judged the sessions and provided feedback, as without their kindness to be a part of the Derby COVID-19 Bail Application, the exercise would not have been the same. I have not only expanded on my network but made some great friends along the way and a few conversations later we have decided to host a virtual debate ranging between two sensitive topics, police powers and child protection matters.

I am really glad that I put myself out there and created opportunities for myself. From this, I have received a lot of positive feedback, and an employer has actually approached me asking me to join their team, and prepare for a virtual plea in mitigation.