What does not kill you only makes you stronger!

Published 9th June 2016

I was called to the Bar in 1994, there were many trailblazers before me but even when I joined Chambers there was the concept of ‘ghetto’ chambers for ethnic minorities whose fathers were not judges or solicitors. I was lucky after 200 applications and 8 interviews I was offered a pupillage. One of 2 non-white pupils and one of 3 women, I was a funded pupil receiving £1500 to support myself, One day at the regular 4pm Chambers tea ritual organised by the pupils (usually the women) the seniors and juniors would gather to talk about their day, gossip, or await news and updates from other barristers who were in exciting trials. Our most senior member of Chambers would wander downstairs to tea (after boring someone else about how Hitler could have won the war). He would precede to ask one of the ‘two little brown mice’ where his tea was! The joy of the Bar. I recall being so broke that I lived off tinned food and toast. There were days where I watched others tucking into lunch which I could not afford to buy whilst my stomach rumbled, I managed to secure a credit card from Midland Bank to be able to travel to Court to earn a small brief fee which might just cover the room I rented for one week at £50. It just made me more determined. 22 years on there are times when being a mom with a full time+ job leading a team in an international company raises different challenges. The battle is the dilemma between home and work. There have been circumstances where I have missed a vital part of my child’s upbringing. The sting of guilt does not fade. Yet my superiors, some of whom are childless, could never understand the sacrifice I made. The intention and motivation behind the decision was usually a desperate need for equality and fear of being out sight and therefore out of mind. Now with reflection, those sacrifices were never worth it. By the time, I fought myself and them to take my rightful seat at the table, it was whipped away! There were other rewards but none that could ever compare to the lost moment in time or the ongoing unconditional love of children.

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