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Sarah Langford - In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law

The first talk in this year’s Robert Winston Lecture series saw us welcome Criminal and Family Barrister, Sarah Langford for her talk, ‘In Your Defence’.

Based on her book of the same name, Sarah’s talk took us into the world of defence barristers, how a typical week can take her to courts across the country, the characters she encounters along the way and how it feels to be representing people from all walks of life.

Sarah, who comes from a family of farmers, took us through her unconventional route into law. After studying English at university, she became a legal secretary, opening her eyes to the work that takes place before a case gets to court. Sarah also took on a number of jobs to support her, taking notes in court for solicitors, as well as working in a local pub, before taking a conversion course, cramming 3 years of a law degree into just 8 months, and going on to do the Bar course.

Sarah opened our eyes to what it takes to be a barrister, covering the aspects of the job that mean she has to be a little bit of a social worker, teacher, psychiatrist and mother to those she represents.

Sarah was also keen to express her encouragement for young people, particularly girls, to join the profession, explaining the current struggle to keep women in law and the conversation that is happening to change that. She encouraged those with an interest to enter the law with eyes open and find the area of law that most appeals to them.

After her talk, Sarah answered questions from the audience, including the difficult question, “how does it feel to represent somebody who is guilty, particularly if they are then found innocent?”

Prior to her talk, Sarah sat down with our aspiring law students, giving them a real insight into their potential future careers. We were also delighted to welcome former Hill House pupil, Alexandra Boynton, who discussed her budding law career with Irwin Mitchell.

Sarah was kind enough to sign copies of her book at the end of the evening, giving the audience members a chance to speak to her one on one.

Highlights of Sarah’s talk can be found on our YouTube channel.

We now look forward to our next talk from Forensic Pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd, on Tuesday 19th November at 5.30pm. We hope to see you there.