3RB Awards the Sixth Nicholls Prize for Advocacy

Congratulations to Francesca D’Argenio, winner of the 2023 Gray’s Inn Moot Final, and to Anjelica Smerin who was first runner up. We are delighted to award them the sixth Nicholls Prize, with £1,000 awarded to Francesca and £500 to Anjelica.

The final took place on Monday 3 July 2023. 3RB was represented by Hugo Keith KC, Joint Head of Chambers and a Bencher of Gray’s Inn. We would like to acknowledge the stirling work of the Gray’s Inn Education and Training Department in relation to this event and their entire educational programme.

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 them:

Francesca D’Argenio studied English Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in 2016. She subsequently completed an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Girton College, Cambridge. She undertook the GDL in 2021 and the Bar Practice Course in 2022, supported by scholarships from Gray’s Inn and the University of Law. During the GDL Francesca volunteered with Bristol Law Centre, acting for individuals appealing their Personal Independence Payments to the First Tier Tribunal. She also represented Gray’s Inn at the 29th annual Wilhelm C. Vis Moot.

Francesca will start a commercial and chancery pupillage at St. John’s Chambers, Bristol, in October 2024. She hopes to build a broad practice, but would like to specialise in contentious probate, intestacy and trusts.

Anjelica Smerin studied English at the University of Oxford. Before her undergraduate studies she completed a foundation diploma in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts.

Anjelica converted to law in 2021 achieving a distinction in the GDL at City, University of London. She was awarded an Elizabeth Ann Curnow scholarship from Gray’s Inn to support her bar course studies. She has a keen commitment to pro-bono work and combined her GDL studies with voluntary work as an advisor at her local Citizens Advice Bureau. During the bar course Anjelica became a senior director of the School Exclusion Project which provides free representation to young people facing permanent exclusion from school. Alongside this she volunteered as a mentor at Vocalise where she recently taught debating and public speaking skills to prisoners at HMP Brixton.

Anjelica successfully completed the bar course with merit at City, University of London this year. She will begin pupillage at Mountford Chambers in 2024

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 KC.  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 KC, 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 and honouring the memory of Clive Nicholls KC.

19th July 2023

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