Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, is a member of the House of Lords, Labour politician, barrister and former director of the human rights group Liberty. She is also an Honorary Doctor of The University of Law. Shami was the keynote speaker at our BPTC 20th anniversary event in June 2017, where she spoke passionately about the rule of law and the role of lawyers in maintaining it. Before delivering her speech, she spoke to us about her career successes.
I am proud to be the Shadow Attorney General in a shadow cabinet of many lawyers and many more colleagues who champion human rights and the rule of law. During my time at Liberty, we defeated proposals to lock people up for 42 days without charge; halted ID cards; and won important victories on issues like stop-and-search.
A Labour government passed the Human Rights Act when I was a young Home Office lawyer; it was one of the proudest moments of my career. In a sense there’s no such thing as human rights law, only a whole host of legal and policy areas that engage people’s human rights. Human rights are a powerful shield against abuse of power.
To succeed as a lawyer, you need a capacity for hard work, written and oral communication skills and empathy for your clients. Above all, you need to fully appreciate the vital importance of legal advice and representation.
My parents emigrated here from Kolkata in the 60s and one of the things that Britain symbolised for them was the rule of law. Neither of them were lawyers, but they had a real sense of justice and injustice because they had both witnessed injustice early in their lives. They instilled in me a sense of equality before the law, so in many ways it felt like a natural progression for me to become a lawyer and join the Bar.
I’ve spent a lot of my life being inspired by older role models like Brenda Hale of the Supreme Court and Juliet Wheldon, the first woman Treasury solicitor. Now I’m in my 40s, I’m increasingly inspired by younger colleagues, whether I meet them in politics or the law.
Find out how we could set you up for a career as successful as Shami’s by booking on an open day with us.