Spotlight on Courts Reporters
We spoke to our editors about their work and how it brings value to our customers.
Q&A with Kerrie Lloyd-Dawson, Specialist Editor and Court Reporter
Q: What’s the background of the team?
Kerrie: Everybody is legally qualified and that’s important because you have to understand the law and you have to understand it very quickly. You also have to then express it very clearly and succinctly. If you don’t have that foundation and that knowledge then you just can’t do your job very well.
Personally, I started off as a solicitor, I had been in practice for six years and I was looking for a change. When I first joined I wrote transcripts, we had a court team and gradually we all started going to court. For quite a few years now, part of my week involves court reporting.
We're often the only reporters in court and we don't necessarily follow the crowd for the big names, or the press judgments. We're looking for the legal judgments and the decisions that are really going to help in practice.
Q: What is it that makes the Court Reporting team unique?
Kerrie: I think because the team have to be legally qualified as a minimum, and then most people have practised as well, so that’s a big bonus as they’ve got the experience of being in court themselves, preparing cases, they know what’s going to be important to our customers.
We include all those little practical practice points that would never make it into a text book, or into the press but actually are quite interesting for our customers to read: what judges are saying about people’s lists of documents, their disclosure, their costs, schedules, etc. – the nitty-gritty practical stuff we include. If you’ve been in practice then you know how important and how interesting it is.
I’ve actually taken my laptop to dinner at a friend’s house whilst I was waiting for a solicitor to approve something for a judgment so that I could get it published that night. We all go above and beyond to get things published to a deadline, particularly if they’re ground breaking.
Q: Why do you think our customers rely on Westlaw UK?
Kerrie: It’s a combination of things really. I think it’s the content, because I think we look for things that are not just the obvious, we do look for these little practice points, these little procedure points. I call it panning for gold, I’m always looking for nuggets that wouldn’t make it into the press or into text books, but they’re really practical useful pieces of information.
I think the speed of our coverage really does make a difference. Our cases are often used very, very quickly. If you’re preparing a case you’re going to be checking on the law right up to the last minute, particularly if there’s no previous authority on a point, you’re going to be looking to see what new cases are heard very close to the time. So it’s really important that we publish things as soon as we can.
A lot of judgments, if they are transcribed, will take days or weeks for the transcript to come through. But we cover quite a few divisions where the judgments aren’t routinely transcribed. So if we’re not there, or if somebody doesn’t order a judgment, nobody will ever know about it. Customers get to know things that they wouldn’t otherwise hear about and we get that to them very, very quickly.
Getting those very latest comments from judges gives customers a competitive edge. Even if it’s not a ground breaking decision, often judges will make comments, make suggestions, or they’ll comment on the practice or procedure. All of that adds up, it’s all still important.
It’s pretty embarrassing if you’re a barrister and the judge points out a case that you’ve not heard of, or your colleague points out a new case. And that does happen occasionally. So it is important you know their job is to provide the court with the latest picture of the law for the judge to be able to make that decision.
Q: What do you love about your job?
Kerrie: I love going to court actually because I used to do a lot of advocacy when I was a solicitor and that was the bit that I missed the most. Even though I don’t get up and speak, or not very often, occasionally we do address the judges, but it was actually just being in court and soaking up the atmosphere. I love the law actually, I really enjoy reading the law and learning about new changes. Being in court is the quickest and most immediate way to do that.