I became a lawyer because I struggled at school socially and wanted to go to the local college, but you could only do that if you took a subject they didn’t do at the school, so I chose to do law A-level. I was taught by a female barrister and she was so exciting and glamorous that I decided I wanted to go and be a young lady barrister in London. I was called to the bar six years ago and I work in the chambers of John Coffey at 3 Temple Gardens, and I spend a lot of my time in the Old Bailey, Southwark and Blackfriars Crown Courts.
I do a lot of serious violence cases, some sex cases and drugs. I recently did a child abuse case, and not that long ago I defended a bigamist. I’ve just had my first rape case, which was very exciting, and also my first attempted murder. There can be interesting moments – I have been attacked in a cell by somebody who was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder and he thought I’d come to arrest him. But I’m a tough girl and I can take it.
You learn about all sorts of things in this job – a couple of years ago I had a case where somebody had graffitied trains, so I learned all about graffiti, and went to lots of exhibitions of street art. A lot of it is violent crime, though. I also know all about blood-spattering and how to best dispose of a body.
Some barristers say they get hardened to the violence, but I don’t think I am. Not long ago I defended somebody who had bitten off somebody’s ear and I was leafing through the pictures at my birthday barbecue. When the jury saw them they were almost sick, but it’s just life. Whatever they’ve done, you have to think of your client as a person. If they are guilty, it’s a question of getting them what they need – the right kind of counselling or rehabilitation to help them improve their lives. If you can stop them reoffending, that’s the best thing for society, too.
I frequently get flowers and champagne from people who were convicted and have done their time and are able to move forward.
It’s an exciting job, and I never know what I will be doing the next day. When a stack of papers come in with a red ribbon it could be anything, I am still excited by untying it and finding what I am working on, I still get butterflies in my stomach. My aspiration is to become a district judge