Case study

Barrister and mediator — Jenny

Find out how Jenny, a practising barrister in family and criminal law, uses mediation skills to resolve conflict in difficult legal cases

How did you get your job?

I originally studied for a degree in English language and literature.

After a brief experience of working in journalism, I took a law conversion course and retrained as a barrister. Six years later I decided to train in mediation and use this in my law career, which has really widened my perspective when representing people with very difficult and different problems.

What's a typical working day like?

On busy days, I can spend the day in court, then back to my barrister chambers to speak to clients or undertake a mediation session in family law issues.

Through family mediation sessions, I help people work out arrangements for any children affected. These can range from financial to medical issues that need to be agreed and resolved. After all that has concluded, I spend the evening preparing for the next day in court.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love meeting clients and helping them to resolve problems or conflict.

What are the challenges?

My working days tend to be very long, and the pace of life rarely slows down. I'm terrible at switching off and can often be found on holiday thousands of miles away, answering my emails.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree in English isn't directly relevant in terms of subject knowledge, but the academic skills and discipline it gave me have been invaluable.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Becoming a mediator as well as a barrister has given me different skills and approaches to resolving conflict. It's surprising how useful this has proved in court.

My career ambitions currently range from becoming a judge to getting more sleep!

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Have confidence in yourself and your skills, as this will be noticed by your clients and other professionals who need to see your capability as a mediator.
  • Spending time getting to understand your clients and the judge in legal mediation cases will help you to achieve successful outcomes.
  • Gain as much relevant work experience as you can and keep an open mind about how your career might develop.
  • Try to maintain a good work/life balance.

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