“I’m a barrister, a job which requires the skills of a social worker, relationship counsellor, arm-twister, hostage negotiator, named driver, bus fare-provider, accountant, suicide watchman, coffee-supplier, surrogate parent and, on one memorable occasion, whatever the official term is for someone tasked with breaking the news to a prisoner that his girlfriend has been diagnosed with gonorrhoea”. The opening lines to the 2018 book by the anonymous author the Secret Barrister.
I’ve only just got round to reading this book which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year back in 2018 and golly, do I wish I had read it sooner. Waterstones’ own review sums the book up perfectly.
Welcome to the funny, often moving and ultimately life-changing stories of life inside the courtroom. Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister.
How can you defend a child-abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to ten years who you believe to be innocent? What is the law and why do we need it? And why do they wear those stupid wigs?
From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like.
The Secret Barrister does for criminal justice what Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm did for medicine, moving beyond the arcane jargon, televised drama and shaded mystery that cloaks the realities of the British legal system to get at the truth beneath. A tour de force of lived experience and knowledge, it reveals the hidden cracks in our once-formidable legal crown. The result is a powerful indictment of the British justice system that emerges as one of the year’s truly necessary releases. Both a searing first-hand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system, and a guide to how we got into this mess, the Secret Barrister wants to show you what it’s really like and why it really matters.
If you are interested in the law, considering a future in the law, or even looking to get out of the law, then in my humble ‘opinion, this book is a must read.