The aim of the “I&N Women” blog is to publish stories of women in law so we can support and encourage each other through our shared experiences.
Having extended the invitation to my colleagues, it seems only fair I lead by example.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I argued a lot when I was growing up.
I wasn’t interested in petty arguments with friends, it was the meaty political issues of the day – civil liberties, New Labour and ninja turtles vs power rangers. If my life were to be put into a video montage, the 699 bus would feature as heavily as Rocky’s gym.
It seemed inevitable I would go into law but my decision to become a barrister wasn’t automatic. I had to build up my confidence over years to join the Bar. Confidence which was knocked when pupillage didn’t come immediately.
My slow start means I’m never, ever reticent about this job. I consider it an honour to put on my gown and help people navigate some of the worst times of their lives. I get dreamy talking about the satisfying intellectual challenge and the subtle intricacies of advocacy; about the bouncy feeling you get walking back to the station after a not guilty verdict and your clients told you you’re a “sick woman!” which you suspect is a good thing but aren’t entirely sure…
Still, I don’t think the person who wrote “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” was a lawyer. At least not one whose spent four hours travelling back to London from Newcastle, wedged into the armpit of a fermenting commuter after a ticking off from the judge, knowing there’s still dinner to make and work to do for tomorrow, and all for the princely sum of £90 (pre-tax, other terms and conditions apply).
I earned my wig and gown, my collar and bands, and I wear them with pride. It’s my uniform. It shows I’m part of something. Because the clothes on our back are not the measure of us, but they are signifiers. They reflect how people see us and how we see ourselves.
In a profession where women joined the party late (albeit 100 years ago) and fought to be here, I think the uniform means something.
It makes sense to me, as a barrister, a feminist and the daughter of a dress maker, that the uniform we wear in court should fit our bodies, look good and be comfortable to wear. That’s why I used my experience to start making courtwear for women.
Now after four years and a pandemic, Ivy & Normanton is finally here and I am so pleased to share it with you!
The aim of Ivy & Normanton is to support all women, in all forms, and whether barrister, solicitor, clerk or judge, to attend court with confidence. I hope to do that by dressing you well and encouraging you with stories. Keep going.
Very best wishes,
If you would like to share your story on our blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org