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It's okay to be you

When I first embarked on my legal career, I never thought for a moment that the profession I so eagerly wanted to join and belong to would also be the profession in which I felt trapped.

After a successful career spanning 20 years, its only once I left that I truly recognised my failings, as well as those of the profession.

Allow me to set the scene.

I came from what we now call a socio-economically disadvantaged background. I grew up in a council estate up to the age of 10, with parents who not only dreamed of but worked tirelessly to change our future. My father ran a corner shop and my mother looked after the home and the children, which was no easy feat, I am one of eight girls. That’s right, eight girls.

Education, education, education was our parents’ mantra and it served us well, but it didn’t come easy. My mum tells us stories of her early struggles with schooling, language and cultural barriers. It was my ‘big’ sister, only two years my senior, who attended parents’ evenings and reported back what the teachers had to say, which wasn’t particularly complimentary in my case. I was a failure at school.

I was engaged at 16, left school at 17 and got married. Let’s be clear though, this was an arranged marriage, not forced, and my parents insisted on me continuing with my education. Despite my poor exam results, they believed in me, as did my husband and sisters, all of whom went on to carve successful ca