The Blackstone executive mid-term review
During the study break, the Blackstone Executive met to discuss the strategic direction of the Society. This was largely in response to murmurings of discontent within the law school. In anticipation of the discussion, we implemented an on-line feedback form (here) and asked for submissions from committee members and the wider cohort with respect to the Society. In particular, we asked for feedback on:
a) How Blackstone was doing in the eyes of the committee;
b) What the external perception of Blackstone was like;
c) What we were doing well; and
d) What were we doing poorly.
Below is a list of the issues that were raised, and the steps that have been taken to address them. For the most part, it appears that law students are concerned with the sheer volume of events and initiatives that we run. On top of this, students believe that the Society has become too equity/careers focused, and have lost touch with what a faculty society should be all about.
I hope that the steps we have taken, and will continue to take, steer the Society in a new direction to ensure our events and initiatives reflect what students want. If you feel as though our efforts are unsatisfactory or you have other issues that you would like to raise, please leave your anonymous feedback here. Without such feedback, we stand without a chance to run the Society how you’d like it to be run.
a) The membership perks on the website are out of date
These have been updated. Please take a look here.
b) The common room/committee is too cliquey
With regard to the common room issue, we will no longer hold committee or sub-committee meetings within the common room. Committee members have also been asked not to loiter in the common room. Hopefully this serves to decrease the cliquey atmosphere. Please remember that absolutely everyone is welcome in the common room. We also have an incredibly approachable committee, so don’t feel intimidated if they happen to be lounging on the couches!
With regard to the committee being too cliquey, this is a much more difficult issue to resolve. I recognise that Blackstone committees tend to be very inwardly focused and this can be intimidating for those students who would like to approach members. I can empathise, because this is exactly how I felt back when I hadn’t been on committee before. Unfortunately, when people spend such a large volume of time together, working towards the same goal, it is only natural that they will become friends. However, I cannot stress enough that the committee members are all incredibly friendly and approachable people. If there is something that you’d like to ask them, or if you see them in a group at a social/sporting/other function – please go and join them! I guarantee that you will not be disappointed with their reaction. Alternatively, If you would like to ask someone for advice on law school, careers, Blackstone or life more generally, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or come for a chat in the office.
c) There are too many careers events
You’re absolutely right! This year, we cut 2011’s fourteen Careers Presentations down to 5 and decided to also run 6 Careers Lunch events (mostly due to pressure from firms). Although this was a step in the right direction, it was clearly not vigilant enough. Accordingly, we have since cut every one of the remaining lunches and one of the presentations. This means that the only remaining presentations will be ‘How to write a CV’, ‘How to write a cover letter’ and ‘Interview techniques’, presented by top tier law firms toward the latter half of the clerkship recruitment period. We may also throw in a presentation from an Investment Bank for those of you who aren’t so keen on a career in the legal industry.
We have streamlined the portfolio to stop oversaturating students and reduce the (unnecessary) emphasis on careers. After all, the careers fair, careers handbook and the aforementioned careers presentations are more than enough to get you to where you want to go!
d) There is too much lecture ‘bashing’
I completely agree! We will now spruik only very select events/initiatives in lectures (typically the fun stuff). For other information, please consult our website of facebook page.
e) There is a noticeable disenfranchisement of 2nd and 3rd years
We will focus on making this group of students feel included in Blackstone’s events. We put on a huge bar tab after the torts and contract assignments were due, which was really well attended by unfamiliar faces. The 2nd and 3rd year dinner is also coming up (conveniently after the equity case analysis – trust me, you’ll need a drink after that) which should go off like a frog in a sock. We’re going to take Blackstone back to basics and ensure that being involved is, if nothing else, a b*tchin’ good time. What else do you think we should be doing? Please leave feedback here.
f) You look like pretentious jerks when you wear suits around the courtyard
This one is probably my fault. The tradition, I think, started in 2010 and I continued it as a Careers Rep in 2011. I completely agree that it is elitist and unnecessary. From now on, committee will only suit-up at formal events.
g) Blackstone has become too equity and social justice based
I recognise that the social justice portfolio was in its infancy last year and as such needed to be clipped into a more digestible form. This year it has been consolidated and streamlined to ensure that we are only running the most popular initiatives.
Blackstone is a student society for all law students. This means that we need to cater for a diverse range of tastes and interests. There is definitely a strong demand for our volunteering, women and other social justice initiatives (in fact, all of our events this year have been oversubscribed) and so we intend to keep running them. I feel that the Society has not in fact been dominated by social justice events. Rather, I think that we over publicise the events that we do run. Accordingly, we will make a concerted effort to condense our promotion of such events and ensure that social justice information is kept in a central location for those students who are interested in it.
h) The Social portfolio has been neglected
Please leave feedback on what you’d like to see from the social portfolio here.
i) The committee take themselves too seriously
There is certainly a propensity for committee members to take themselves too seriously. This is true not just of this year, or just Blackstone. I know that sometimes I’m guilty of taking Blackstone more seriously than I should; after all, it’s just a student society. The committee (myself included) will make a concerted effort to keep this in mind as we conduct activities for the remainder of the year.
j) There are too many half-assed events
As I alluded to above, we will no longer be running half-assed events or events that require us to bribe people with food to get them along. We will aim to deliver great value events that are fully attended. To this end, we have scrapped our careers lunches, scrapped numerous careers presentations, consolidated the year dinners (into a 2nd and 3rd year dinner and a later year cocktail party), and made many more similar amendments. We will sell out, we will deliver great value for money and we will have raucous good time.