Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Inspirational Women: Judge Barbara Mensah.....

Her Honour Judge Barbara Mensah sits as a circuit judge at Luton Crown Court, and is the very opposite of that cliché, the Oxbridge-educated old buffer. Born in Ghana, she was sent to school in England aged six. She studied philosophy at the University of Wales in Swansea before training to be a barrister. Even her career has been unusual, with a period spent working in the private sector. She came into judging through sitting on a Financial Services Tribunal and realising that she liked the work. Role models"Go down any High Street now," she says, " and you see such a diverse population. And when people appear in court either as witnesses or as defendants or as litigants, they want to see that reflected in the bench as well.

"Because there is a perception otherwise that they are not going to get justice - I think a wrong perception - but there is that perception, that they may not get somebody who's understood their particular background."

What is more, the thinking goes, if we want the best people available to become judges, then highly-talented lawyers who are women or from a racial minority need to see role models on the bench. Otherwise they might not even think it is worth applying. Or they might assume any conversation with their fellow judges would be limited to cricket, golf and fine wine, and decide the company does not sound that stimulating. Judge Barbara Mensah says that "just as it is very important for the public - society at large - to see that there is a diverse judiciary it is also important for the profession. "In my own case it never occurred to me to aspire to be a judge because I didn't see anybody like me on the bench. And I think that's true today as well." To be fair, judges need to be lawyers of long experience, and it will take some time for the increasing numbers of women and minority ethnic solicitors and barristers to accumulate the necessary years. But that excuse is starting to wear a bit thin. There are plenty of experienced women and Asian and Afro-Caribbean lawyers practising these days. Around one in 10 of all solicitors and barristers are from an ethnic minority. Around one in three are women.

This was taken from the BBC. Do visit the following link to read the entire piece.... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7935741.stm

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