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  • Writer's pictureCardiff JLD

World Book Day 2024

World Book Day is always a great time of year – an opportunity for exposure to new authors, new genres, and new bestsellers that appear on the WH Smith ‘Wall of Fame’ that you try your best to budget for, but never manage. Cue the annual jokes that there isn’t time in the legal profession to sit down and read a book in your working week – I very much beg to differ when you factor in train delays to and from the office alone.

I am an avid reader outside of the office, and it’s so beneficial to have a hobby that you enjoy doing – that you can also put time to when you’re exhausted. We have all had Friday night plans which have been much sought after since 8:30am on Monday, but instead find ourselves wanting nothing more than the comfort of an early bedtime. Reading can be incredibly relaxing after five days in front of a screen, especially when your mind needs redirection from your workload.

Below, I have dealt with my three favourite legal reads and explained as a lawyer why I find these cases so intriguing. Sometimes, it is useful to step outside your comfort zone and to consider the world of law in footsteps that aren’t your own – whether this is Counsel, a different type of law altogether that’s more or less adversarial, or to consider the views of your clients and future laypersons who may require recourse from the Court. Not all fiction books relate to BBC drama-esque legal stories, and a lot of these narratives have provided great third party accounts or issues for consideration that I don’t typically face as part of my normal workload. As a typical fiction reader, this hasn't precluded me from being able to delve into legal melodrama or some more thought provoking tales. The law can often make for great stories in the end.


The Sentence was my favourite Christmas read during the holidays. I thought this was an incredibly interesting take on the law that balanced out expectations on us as practitioners and also the political/media-influenced side of the law - specifically where criminal is concerned. None of us are immune to pressure or fear about what other professionals might think, or what questions the public would have about our day to day role and why the system works the way it does. Everybody is familiar with popular criminal anecdotes in the news, which can often involve panel discussions and breaking news stories – that are completely absent contributions from lawyers or the realisation that we are also people, and not immune to needing recourse to the law in our futures. I enjoyed the way that this book faced up with the reality of what we reckon with daily, just by putting a case forward to the Court irrespective of our impressions, provided they align with instructions.

The bar of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ was the crux of this book, considering how easily we can become riled up after hearing heartbreaking tales of murder, assault, or other horrific crimes in our community. It considers how we can attribute blame, and even practitioners being tied down with this - even if their role is in complete contradiction to this, simply because we become invested by proxy. The reality of this book considers whether we would be so quick to jump to conclusions or want to see punishment if our own lives were on the line. I feel that this story is a telling fable about Counsel dealing with clients day in day out, or solicitor advocates, and removing our own ideas of accountability from the process regardless of personally held beliefs. We can take undue criticism for this, particularly as laypeople assume that we can pick and choose to fight our cases at the best of times. If we lived in a world where we had to personally tie ourselves into our clients on a fault level, would we become far more cautious and mindful of the impact on pre-judging parties and more appreciative of how pivotal our role is as a neutral third party? How would this impact our system and access to justice, particularly in cases where parties were later proven innocent, or where juries need to be specifically directed to disregard outside material? Would we become more sympathetic to Counsel and solicitors who you may look down upon for providing legal advice to a party whom you feel has ill intentions?

I enjoyed this consideration of boundaries and how we can often find ourselves against the current with prejudices, media influences and criticisms of the Court system – but this is why our role becomes so important for the person with all odds stacked against them, or at least feeling this way, with a duty to be neutral at the toughest times. Ultimately, every client deserves the same opportunity and justice will need to be left to the Judge following

This book was a particularly interesting read for me, as somebody who doesn’t have much experience with Legal Aid work but who comes into contact with an array of different desperate clients every day – all united in their dependence on the Court system. This also has a specific focus on Family Law which I practice in, and delicately explained how arduous it can be to work in such an emotionally powered, finely balanced line of work. I found this book to be an honest and heartfelt summary of the different cases you come across, and how you rarely have a case that is so blatantly ‘win’ or ‘lose’.

There was a poignant attempt in this book to convey those clients that often don’t make the headline chatter for the working day. Whether this is the ones who are passively self-sabotage, those who feel they have nothing but legal hurdles and dim prospects, and those with a completely backwards understanding of our system which is exacerbated by tell-tale stories on the street. It is an important and refreshing reminder that there are no good or bad clients fully, and many stories come with background and context that we won’t ever appreciate as part of our jobs – specifically when each client has ‘one’ opportunity (mostly) and for us, this is in the sea of hundreds of prospective other clients.

All practitioners, to some degree, have a sense of injustice or at least reforms that they would wish to see in the course of their lives. It is rare that a practitioner does not see any case that they somehow feel wronged by after years in their career – sometimes this is merely emotional and not to do with the erring of the Court, but irrespective, we can all have shortcomings and even practitioners need to remind themselves that the system is, ultimately before anything, a human one. The balance between all aspects of the law being completely dismal and hopeless for anybody seeking assistance, and a godsend for those who seek a resolution and closure, was intriguing and reflective of my own view as a practitioner. Circumstances vary, case law varies, and appearing in Court can mean different things for so many people, instilling different emotions and different expectations.

I enjoyed how this book delved into the reality of practicing in Law, and appreciating that we can comply with our obligations but that does not mean indefinitely and wholeheartedly backing the entire system as it stands. Lawyers face barriers (technologically or legally) and we are not immune from discussions about reforms that are needed, or where attention needs to be provided.

I loved how this book was able to bring these important short stories that don’t tend to be shared beyond client and Counsel, into a more public forum. It demonstrates that legal hurdles and personal/financial concerns are shared by several people, even if they are all sharing this in confidence by themselves and feeling as if they are isolated. It reckons with the Court system in a refreshing way – where nothing is embellished, but we are not simply collaborating with all criticisms possible to get a rise out of potential readers. The honest descriptors of the environment that litigants in person, and represented laypersons, can find themselves in – makes the Court feel slightly less out of reach and therefore more accessible.


To help raise money for World Book Day, please visit the attached link: Fundraising - World Book Day.


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