International Women’s Day 2023
8 March 2023
Anna specialises in inquests and inquiries, civil liberties and human rights and private and public law claims involving public authorities. Anna is recognised as a Leading barrister by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 in all of her core practice areas.
Anna started her career as a caseworker at Paragon Law which she combined with studying for her Masters (LLM) in Public International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham. Anna was also an investigator for Reprieve in Laos and the Philippines.
Anna moved to London to complete the Bar Course and worked part time for Keir Starmer KC before starting pupillage. She became a member of Garden Court Chambers as a criminal practitioner and enjoyed criminal defence work for many years before developing a practice representing bereaved families in inquests and public inquiries, which is now her main practice area.
Anna moved to Manchester in 2014 to work on the Hillsborough inquest. She has also worked on the Manchester Arena Inquiry and is currently instructed as leading counsel in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry representing the bereaved and other significant groups impacted by the pandemic.
‘Being a woman at the Bar has certainly presented challenges! There have been several occasions where I have experienced discrimination by older male judges, particularly at the beginning of my career. I have been patronised, ignored and sidelined as a woman. Unconscious bias continues to be an issue in the allocation of work at the Bar and within organisational structures and responsibilities. But one of the reasons I applied to be King’s Counsel was so that other women could see that it was possible to reach the top of the profession whilst being a woman, a mother and being based outside of London.
‘In terms of how to overcome those challenges, I think it’s important to be true to yourself and your values. Only by acting in a way that is aligned to your values will you be able to be resilient to some of the hard knocks of the profession. I have always tried to find my tribe, people who understand how you work and support your methods. This might be a co-worker, a manager, or a mentor. Networking is often used as negative word, but it is important that women don’t ignore the value of building professional networks. These don’t have to revolve around the traditional model of wining and dining. Mutual support, training, listening, and socialising all have their place in building strong professional relationships.
‘Movement is also an important element of my routine, so if I have time I will go for a run or a walk before work. I try and get most of my work done within core hours so that I can eat with my family when they are home from their days. Sometimes this means I must work later in the evening, or in the early morning but I like to keep that balance where possible.
‘What has kept me working in the law this long is not only the clients and the intellectual challenge but the empathy, support, and resilience of other women.’
‘The legal profession has changed since I joined and still has some way to go. Firms and Chambers still need to do more to retain women who choose to have a family and/or have other caring responsibilities. This can be done through the provision of flexible working and mentor support, but organisations also need to value the talent of the women returning to work and not perceive them as more “difficult” to manage than their counterparts.
‘We need to encourage more women into leadership positions and structures who can then bring their lived experience into the decision-making processes that affect the lives of professional women. Firms, Chambers, The Law Society, The Bar Standards Board, The Bar Council have all benefited from an increase in women in leadership.
‘What has kept me working in the law this long is not only the clients and the intellectual challenge but the empathy, support, and resilience of other women. Sharing our struggles and moments of lightness is something I cherish every day.
‘If you want to be a barrister, be yourself, trust yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for support.’