“Watching the spark in the eye of a student engaged in a cross-examination or a closing speech is a delight…”
I practiced as a criminal defence barrister for 28 years, 9 of those years in silk. In 2018, I became a Circuit Judge in Preston on the Northern Circuit.
I have volunteered to take part in the Young Citizens projects for many years, both as an independent member of the Bar in London and now as a Circuit Judge in the North West.
I come from a non-traditional non-legal background from what is now called a lower socio-economic group and was the first of my family to attend university. I had no legal contacts nor any experience of the law until I was at university. I began to volunteer in order to promote and encourage those of similar backgrounds to me to follow a career in the law.
Too many working class children consider a career in the law as beyond them. I have been extremely fortunate in the progression of my career to have met some people who saw past my accent, my social and education background and my lack of cultural capital to encourage and inspire me.
When volunteering, I have seen many extremely able and talented students who would only be a benefit and an asset to the law. After thirty years working in criminal law and advocacy, one can easily forget ‘the basics’ and seeing students come to a problem or a moot with fresh eyes and seeing confident performances is a joy.
I would encourage anyone who wishes to encourage students from non-traditional backgrounds to engage with the law and pursue legal careers to volunteer for Young Citizens. Watching the spark in the eye of a student engaged in a cross-examination or a closing speech is a delight and better than any TV drama.