Daniel IsenbergIt would be nice to tie together with a single thread the working environments of three of the UKSC Blog Essay Competition partners, where I was fortunate enough to spend some time over a week.  To describe the attitude, general milieu and approach taken at Olswang, The Guardian and the UK Supreme Court as “dynamic” would be fair in each case, but equally rather vague and actually not too informative.  Instead, each host surprised me in its own way, and each environment reflected the culture of the respective organisations. 

The mainstay of my week was spent at Olswang, where I was attached to the Commercial Litigation Department (aka “Com Lit”).  Whilst the lion’s share of the litigators’ work focused on contractual disputes, Olswang’s specific expertise meant much of the work I saw had a sports, media or telecoms flavour to it – ranging from football clubs’ licensing arrangements to a ‘script read’ (for defamation, etc.) on a film due for general release next year.  Alongside the varied and interesting nature of the work carried out, the office environment  was a vibrant one: not only client meetings with panoramic views over central London, but genuine warmth and (dare I quote my own essay) collegiality, balanced with an evident pervasive professionalism.

Similarly, no-one would doubt the dedication and commitment found at The Guardian’s HQ, near King’s Cross, with their tradition of conscientious reporting and investigative journalism (I did keep an eye out for Edward Snowden,  but he was nowhere to be found – not even in the spacious cafeteria overlooking the canal).  Equally, it seemed more ‘The Guardian’ than some other [nameless] publications that the editors’ daily morning meeting could be attended by any member of the organisation, and involved sitting on comfortable low couches, rather than around a boardroom-style table.  That democratic and egalitarian culture meant that when we were fortunate enough to be addressed by Maria Eitel, President & CEO of the Nike Foundation, the subsequent penetrative questioning came from a range of voices and perspectives – from sports writers to those working on political news and within the cultural sphere.  It was also fascinating to hear about the work of the legal affairs team and its recent developments from Maya Wolfe-Robinson, and to see their correspondents frantically respond to the judgment of Vinter v UK (as well as to the less than totally accurate reporting of the decision coming from other news outlets!).

Finally, a day at the UK Supreme Court took me behind the scenes at an institution that lies at the heart of our constitution – meeting Lord Kerr, some of the judicial assistants, the communications team and the Chief Executive.  I even had time for a tour of the Court’s library, and to undertake a review (with some hopefully helpful suggestions!) of the exhibition material in the basement.  The Court does a fantastic job of opening its doors to members of the public of all ages, ranging from tourists to students, in a manner that was simply impossible when it was situated across Parliament Square.

A big thank you to all of those at Olswang, The Guardian and the Supreme Court for making my week such a rewarding one!