In conversation with First 100 Years Cherie Booth QC has urged for greater social mobility at the Bar saying she believes that there are even fewer state educated people being called now than there were in the past, attributing this partly to a lack of legal aid work.
Describing her experiences at the Bar, Cherie said:
I have been in cases where virtually all of the advocates were women …. but the thing that struck me when I went to the Bar wasn’t just how few women there were, it was how many people there were who were public school educated and Oxbridge, and there was I a girl from a grammar school from the north.
Cherie grew up in a working-class family; her mother left school at 14 and her father at 16. This shaped her decision to become a lawyer, although “it was quite a strange decision” because she didn’t know any lawyers personally and nobody in her family had been to university. Cherie “wanted to make sure that in some ways I did something that was practical…it was a desire to be able to support myself.”
According to a 2014 report by the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty commission, 71% of senior judges and top QCs are privately educated, and 75% attended Oxbridge, a proportion which has barely changed since the 1980s.
The full video interview with Cherie Booth will be released by First 100 Years soon.