3RB Awards the Third Nicholls Prize for Advocacy

Congratulations to Sophie Sheerin, winner of the 2020 Gray’s Inn Moot Final, and to Charles Jenkinson who was first runner up.  We are delighted to award them the third Nicholls Prize, with £1,000 awarded to Sophie and £500 to Charles.

The 2020 final was originally scheduled to take place on the very day that the country went into lockdown.  Thanks to the sterling work of the Gray’s Inn Education and Training Department, the semi-finals and the finals were completed over zoom, with the final taking place on 25 January 2021.  Despite the obvious challenges of running an advocacy-based competition remotely, the evening was a great success and all the organisers and finalists should be congratulated for a marvellous job.

About the Winners

We normally like to invite our winners in to Chambers to meet members and receive their awards.  Unfortunately we have had to arrange a ‘virtual prizegiving’ this year, but we can tell you a little bit about our them:

Sophie Sheerin graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Theology, before undertaking the GDL at Oxford Brookes School of Law. Following this, she interned in the Mississippi Office of State Public Defender, where she worked to investigate sources of mitigation for indigent defendants facing capital charge.

She studied part-time for the Bar whilst also working as a paralegal at Carter-Ruck. There, she assisted on claimant media work, covering celebrity privacy matters, ‘right to be forgotten’ litigation, an injunction in a claim for harassment involving blackmail, and actions in defamation against defendants ranging from national newspapers to public bodies.  She is currently seeking pupillage and hopes to build a practice in media work.

Charles Jenkinson is a keen linguist who grew up in France and studied physics at Imperial College London, spending a year abroad at the University of Padua in Italy.  He then completed a postgraduate Chinese degree at Oxford University, before coming to law via the GDL/BPTC route in London. To that end, he was fortunate to receive a BPTC scholarship from Gray’s Inn, as well as the advocacy training which has allowed him to reach the final stage of this competition. He hopes to secure pupillage in future, and in the meantime is keeping himself busy working as a paralegal and developing his own app.

We wish them both every success with their careers at the Bar.

About the Nicholls Prize

Our prize was founded in 2018 in memory of Clive Nicholls QC.  Clive died in February 2017, aged 84.   He had been a member of Chambers for 60 years and was Head of Chambers from 1994 until 2010.  He was still a valued member of Chambers, active in advisory work well beyond his 80th birthday.  Clive was called to the Bar in 1957. He had graduated with his twin brother, Colin Nicholls QC, who is still a member of chambers, from Trinity College, Dublin and both became leading lights in their respective fields after joining Chambers.  Clive took silk in 1980, he sat as a Recorder of the Crown Court between 1984 and 1999 and became a Bencher of Gray’s Inn in 1989.

Clive’s was a stellar career. He had a wide range of work and was able to apply his mind to legal issues in a number of disciplines.  He specialised in extradition and the roll-call of cases in which he appeared speaks for itself – Nielsen (a landmark case which overturned 100 years of extradition law), Pinochet, Osman, and many other high profile matters.  He appeared in courts all over the world and was internationally acknowledged as a leader in his field.

Throughout Clive’s practice, and in his 16 years as Head of Chambers, he was a genuine father-figure and mentor, ever humorous, radiating dynamism and energy beyond his years and always making himself available to help other members of Chambers. He embodied and exemplified all the virtues of the Bar as a profession: he was a man of integrity who took great pleasure in his work and whose courtesy to fellow barristers never wavered, even in the most hard fought of cases.

We are proud to associate our award with the Gray’s Inn Moot Final, continuing a tradition we started with the DuCann Advocacy Prize, which ran from 2008 to 2017.  We look forward to the next ten years honouring the memory of Clive Nicholls QC.

10th February 2021

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