1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the School of Law and Social Science?
I am a senior lecturer in law teaching in the department of law and criminology which is situated within the school of law and social science. I have been at Royal Holloway since 2014. I was recruited to help set up the College’s first ever LLB (law) programme within its new School of Law (now the School of Law and Social Science). The new law programme was successfully validated in 2015 and we saw our first cohort graduate in 2018. I was Director of Teaching and Learning from 2015 – 22018 and have since held roles such as Senior Tutor within the amalgamated school.
2. You have recently written an essay on ‘Black Women in the Law’ for a play called ‘The Fellowship’ written by Roy Williams OBE, which opened at Hampstead Theatre on 21st June. Can you tell us more about your essay, and how it fits in with the play?
The play tells the story of two sisters who are children of the Windrush generation and grew up in London in the 1980s as black activists. Decades later their lives have taken different paths with one caring for their dying mother and the other enjoying a high-flying career as a lawyer. The sisters struggle to reconcile their past and reclaim the bond that they once shared. My essay provides some contextual information and commentary on the struggle of black women within the law. The essay takes an honest look at some of the challenges faced by black women in the legal profession based on official reports and statistics such as the ‘Race at the Bar’ report commissioned by the Bar Council and the Law Society’s ‘Race to Inclusion’ report. The essay also explores some of the positive initiatives taken by the profession to address some of those challenges and pays tribute to the black women role models to be found within specific branches of the legal profession.
3. What inspired you to contribute your work to ‘The Fellowship’?
Much of my scholarly work in academia has been on professionalism and diversity. I see the two as interconnected. A professional attitude within the legal profession should involve embracing diversity and an understanding that talent is drawn from many groups. Indeed, ethical codes that bind members of the legal profession provide that equality, inclusion and diversity should be encouraged. However, as qualitative data has shown, this is not always reflected in the lived experience of solicitors, barristers and judges from ethnic minorities. I am interested in highlighting the disconnect but also helping to find solutions. I am a qualified solicitor myself and practised for ten years before becoming an academic. I have taught for many years on postgraduate professional programmes as well as working for regulators to set standards for qualification into the profession. The profession, like academia struggles with the ‘awarding/attainment gap’ and is engaged in work to try to remove barriers to entry into the profession.
4. What are your favourite subjects to lecture on?
I am passionate about teaching but particularly enjoy teaching subjects that students traditionally find difficult. This enables me to develop strategies to break down difficult ideas and to highlight key concepts and how they connect. My published research is in the field of law and medical technology (particularly in the field of fertility) and so I enjoy teaching medical law for this reason. It is also a joy to see students embrace the career possibilities that this area of law offers such as roles within pharmaceutical companies or within compliance and regulation. I also enjoy teaching practice-based subjects such as advocacy as this gives me an opportunity to develop authentic assessment for students and prepare them for taking the professional examinations.
5. What do you enjoy most about working at our College?
What I most enjoy about working at the College is meeting colleagues from different backgrounds, different fields of research, different expertise, and different passions. I think the college works hard to embrace difference.
6. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
I love to walk, everywhere and anywhere. I try to devise new routes for forest, canal and city walks but sometimes it is just fun to lose yourself completely in an unfamiliar environment.