What year were you called to the Bar?
When did you join Coram?
About ten years ago
What type of family law do you practice?
Family Law: children and financial remedies. I often on one side of a war between warring parents.
How has being a LGBTQ+ lawyer changed since you were called to the Bar?
Massively. In the early 2000s I was in pupillage and my first few years of practice in Leeds. I was identified, usually in a friendly way, as the ‘gay’ one despite my disbelief that anyone might work out or guess my sexuality (I can see now it wasn’t that hard, especially considering some of the shoes I used to wear). It was a thing. Being gay stood out as it was so unusual to be ‘out’. I think there were only 4 or 5 of us at the Bar in Leeds in at least as many chambers.
Do you feel like being out has affected how people behave towards you at work?
It did in the past, but not now. In the past, people would be a bit patronisingly ‘cool with it’, letting it be known that they really like and are cool with gay people and have real, actual, gay friends. Now, almost no one cares, which I love. To me, that is the definition of acceptance and equality. I suspect things are slightly different further out, as it certainly was in Leeds in the early 2000s.
When asked to contribute to this blog I realised I had no idea how many members of my chambers are LGBTQ+. I had to really think about it and work it out!
What more can be done to support LGBTQ+ lawyers and/or clients in family law?
I think LGBTQ+ lawyers are fairly well supported. I’m not sure I can think of where there’s a need for more ‘support’. I fear it could go too far so that being LGBTQ+ starts to define you, rather than your skills as a lawyer.
An area that would do well to develop is that I think LGBTQ+ clients don’t really know where to go when they have family law issues and often fear their lawyer may be prejudiced or naïve, especially because, to many, the Bar still has an old fashioned and stuffy reputation. I think we would do well to have a specific LGBTQ group of lawyers so that those clients/solicitors who are more comfortable with that can access it straight away.
Who is your favourite LGBT+ historical figure?
Oscar Wilde for the writing; Boy George for the singing and dancing and Alan Turing for being the hero and cracking that code.
What is the best thing about being a family lawyer?
The huge variety of work and sense of having someone utterly depend on you. It may be frustrating, underfunded, and stressful but boring it ain’t.