In February this year, students from the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University visited the Civil Justice Centre (CJC) in Manchester, hosted by judges and other special guests. The visit saw 33 University of Salford students, organised with Elle Holland, President of the Level Up Law Society at the University, and 80 MMU Students, organised with Chris Kehoe, Senior Lecturer at the University. The events included introductions and tips from the hosts and guests, small group conversations between students and a judge or lawyer, followed by lively Q&A panels. Follow up arrangements included the chance for all students to shadow a judge.
The hosting teams for the two events included 19 tribunal and court judges covering a wide range of disciplines. The students also met the Social Graces team (Warrick Anderson, Petrine Blake, Anthea Gordon and Yvonne James), a diversity, equality and inclusion group based at the CJC; Aarif Abraham, a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers; Sian Darlington, a solicitor at gunnercooke; Michael Hand from the Administrative Court Office; Ifsa Mahmood, a barrister at Kings Chambers; Millie McGrath, a Court Clerk; Sally Penni, a barrister at Kenworthys Chambers; Gilly Pickford, Personal Secretary to the Manchester District Tribunal Judges; Jessica Turner, a High Court Judge’s Clerk; Patrick Ward, the CJC Building Manager; and Lorraine Worsley-Carter, the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester.
Elle Holland, President of Salford University’s Level-Up Law Society, said: “this event paid off massively, breaking down barriers and clearing students’ minds of every negative stereotype they may have had of judges, in a safe and inclusive environment. Every student left the building inspired and motivated.”
MMU Student Sumaiya Begum posted: “This highly informative event gave us the chance to pose questions to the panel of judges, solicitors and barristers, as well as being able to listen to their experiences within the legal sector. The diverse panel also provided the best advice regarding various career paths and positions that are accessible in the legal industry. It was truly an amazing experience and very insightful and I am extremely thankful to the event’s organisers and hosts.”
These visits followed a schools week that saw 300 students from nine local primary and secondary schools attend the CJC for mock trials in a courtroom, at which several of the university students had acted as volunteer leaders. Both of the visits are a part of the judiciary’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
Junior barrister Ifsa Mahmood said: “Both visits were highly positive events. The students gained valuable access to individuals who have forged a range of careers in the legal system and were, I hope, encouraged to see the opportunities available to them.”
Barrister and Chair of the Valuation Tribunal of England and Wales, Sally Penni MBE said: “It was wonderful to see so many diverse students at this event, as part of seeing the rule of law and judges in action. Representation, and judges who reflect society, really matter.
The host judges were: District Judge Mark Angus; Circuit Judge Adrian Bever; Upper Tribunal Judge Gaenor Bruce; Employment Judge Mark Butler; District Tribunal Judge Sean Curley; Circuit Judge Stephen Davies; High Court Judge Mike Fordham; District Judge Matthew Haisley; Deputy District Judge Jonathan Hassall; District Judge Mandy Isles; Tribunal Judge Kate Meredith-Jones; Deputy District Judge Jonathan Morwood; Circuit Judge Richard Pearce; Recorder Karen Ridge; District Judge Edel Rome; Tribunal Judge Ali Sarwar; Recorder Ayesha Siddiqi; Circuit Judge Sarah Singleton; and District Judge Graham Stuart.