Joanna Glynn QC

Joanna Glynn QC_IWD_2019
Call Year: 1983

Silk Year: 2002

Why did you decide to become a barrister?

Neither of my parents went to university and I claim no early ambition to pursue a legal career, undertaking the non-law graduates’ conversion course at the City University after a BA degree. It was not until pupillage exposed me to the fasciation of the trial process and some truly impressive advocates, and I realised the job excluded any risk of boredom, that I decided I wanted to join the profession.

What has been a rewarding aspect of your career?

An increase in diversity, an improvement in what is regarded as acceptable behaviour on the part of male barristers towards their female colleagues and the behaviour of the judiciary towards the Bar (with a few exceptions!), and less discriminatory clerking.

What advice would you give to aspiring barristers today?

The Bar is very competitive. If you aspire to a share of the best work in your chosen field, take every opportunity for the development of niche expertise and professional development (“bread on the water” to quote my first senior clerk);

Do not become disheartened by professional set backs; they often disguise what turn out to be golden opportunities for career development.

Never ignore ethical considerations when making strategic decisions; if you think about the ethics of a decision you will usually make the right one.

For women barristers, do not heed those who claim that a busy career at the Bar is not good for your children. My son, born 5 years before I took silk, said that our relationship and his attitude to women benefitted from growing up with a busy professional mother, and I think he is right.


Clodagh Bradley QC


Call Year: 1996
Silk Year: 2016

Why did you decide to become a barrister?

My pathway to the Bar was the result of a series of serendipitous nudges from thoughtful teachers who felt that maybe my ambition of becoming an air hostess was not likely to provide the long-term fulfilment that I thought it might when I was a teenager.  They suggested that I consider studying law and that I apply to Cambridge.  Having arrived at university, I discovered the buzz that I got from mooting and knew that advocacy was for me.  I did some mini-pupillages and work experience at a solicitors’ firm that I now work for regularly.  I soon realised that the Bar was the perfect career for me as it offered you the chance to advocate on behalf of clients for whom you can make a real difference, intellectual stimulation, variety and independence; all of which I craved.

What is the biggest change you have seen at the Bar?

There has been a sea-change in attitudes to diversity since I started out.  When I was a pupil I was offered ‘advice’ by someone who probably thought they were being helpful, that I should not tell anyone about any intentions to have children or my career would go nowhere.  I was also told as a pupil that, although the rules had recently changed to permit women barristers to wear trousers in court, I should not do so for fear of creating the ‘wrong’ impression.  This seems laughable now.  I’m now surrounded by many successful women who have taken Silk or made it to the High Court bench or higher, who have had children.  We even dare to wear trousers when the mood takes us!  I’m delighted to see that considerable work is now being done to improve the diversity of the Bar beyond recruiting and retaining more women (although the work is not yet ‘done’ on that front), with Outreach projects to attract people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and that recruitment is very much focussed on merit with a desire to encourage the best people regardless of their race, colour, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.  One gets a sense that what you know, not who you know, really is paramount now and it did not always feel like that when I was starting out.

What advice would you give to aspiring barristers today?

Trying to strike a healthy work / life balance is a constant challenge.  Last minute emails on a Friday evening, can scupper plans with friends and family, as the work still needs to get done in order that the ‘result’ is delivered for the client, on time.  However, on the plus side the flexibility of self-employment and our ability to work from home some of the time can make the Bar more family friendly than many other careers.  My advice is to work hard but protect some time for non-work commitments.  It will make you more productive at work and happier, which is good for your work and home life.  The mission to ensure Wellbeing at the Bar is gaining momentum and I’m optimistic that this bodes well for the future of all.

Suzanne Lambert


Call Year: 2002

Why did you decide to become a barrister?

I was drawn to a legal career because I was passionate about social justice issues, such as race discrimination and gender inequality, and believed that I could effect positive change through law. The Bar was particularly attractive as I felt it would allow me to be an advocate for the disadvantaged whose voices might not otherwise be heard and to hold to account institutions and those in power.

What is the biggest change you have seen at the Bar?

The Bar has changed significantly since I was a pupil. It is much more diverse and more attuned to the need to continue to widen access to people of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds so that the profession can be more representative.

It has also made tremendous strides in recognising and attempting to address the challenges faced by members of the Bar, for example the need to maintain an appropriate work-life balance and to provide support to those returning to practice after parental leave.

Leanne Woods 


Call Year: 2005

Why did you decide to become a barrister?

I don’t know where the idea of being a barrister originally came from. I do not come from a legal family but at age 9, I was announcing my ambition to be “successful barrister”. Later I contemplated other career paths but never seriously waivered from the bar. First and foremost I wanted to be an advocate. But I also knew that routine can bore me and so I wanted the prospect of every day being different – and you certainly get that at the bar. I am also fiercely independent and self-reliant so being self-employed suits me.

What has surprised you about being a barrister?

My work includes clinical negligence, inquests and representing healthcare professionals in regulatory proceedings, so acting for lay clients facing huge personal and professional challenges. Over the years I have been both surprised and amazed by their dignity and resilience in the face of additional stress coming from litigation. At times I have also been taken aback by the emotional impact this work can have on the legal teams too. You definitely need to be conscious of this. I think we do not realise this at the time because we are focused on doing the job to the highest standard.

What advice would you give to aspiring barristers today?
  • Always remember that clients trusting you is a huge privilege – the quality of your work must justify this trust.
  • Whether you have your best or worst day in court, you should learn from every case you do.
  • If you can, spend time in a solicitors’ office towards the start of your career (I spent a year in a city firm). You will have your eyes opened about how to provide a good and not so good service to your professional client.


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