Please tell us about your best day at work?
My best day at work was the day I bumped into an ex-client dropping off her daughter at school. I had first met her daughter when she was a few weeks old and the family were sleeping in a stairwell in a block of flats. To see the transformation in my client’s life, and the life and opportunities open to her child in part as a consequence of the legal proceedings brought was great.
What do you think is the greatest challenge for women looking to access justice in the UK?
Many aspects of the justice system are inaccessible if you are not wealthy, and often women have less opportunity to work than men, and get paid less when they are working, so this affects them more. I think we should have a system of justice that is available to everyone.
Looking back on your career, how far do you think the UK has come towards gender parity in the legal profession?
Like many low status badly paid professions, the legal aid solicitors world is full of women. The high status jobs – judges, successful barristers and members of the Supreme Court remain predominantly men. I am a passionate believer that the best people should be promoted to the high status positions. Self-evidently this is not happening at present, and I think the courts and barristers chambers could do more to encourage women to advance to high status jobs, and understand that the structures which work for the traditional man may not work for women.
Who, or what, inspires you most and why?
My colleagues who I work with in my firm and others who work in the same field are always a source of inspiration. My clients too are often inspirational people in difficult circumstances.
What have you discovered during your career which you would have benefitted from knowing as a student?
That reading court judgements was a good use of time!
Join us on 19 March 2016 for our Annual Student Conference to hear Andrea Coomber, Director of JUSTICE, in conversation with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty. Sign up now.