The CLP - interview series goes into the third round: After the expert round as well as the Legal Coaches it now primarily concerns special commitment inside and outside the lawyer occupation. Some of them have already been honored for this commitment with prizes; however, all colleagues in this circle are very successful in what they do. This may be due to the burning passion with which they are committed to their cause. Or thanks to their own personal recipe for success, which they reveal at the end of each session.
Who is Mrs. Hardy:
Joanna Hardy is a criminal barrister based in England. She studied Law at King’s College London and was awarded First Class Honours. She remained at King’s to study for her LLM Master of Laws and graduated with distinction. She was awarded the Harmsworth Scholarship from Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in 2010.
Joanna now prosecutes and defends serious crime. She is listed in the Legal 500 and in the Evening Standard Newspaper’s ‘Progress 1000’ – a list of the most influential people in London. She is a qualified advocacy trainer with Middle Temple. Joanna regularly speaks and writes about the criminal justice system.
Her fight against sexual jokes about female laywers by theier colleagues went viral in 2019: In several tweets on Twitter she had appealed to her male colleagues to stop making jokes about breasts and skirts in court. Hardy has appr. 34.000 Follower on Twitter. She aimed to stop women quitting legal profession.
Joanna lives in London with her fiancé Jamie and their miniature dachshund dog, Mr Pickle.
#1 What does “Role model for female lawyers” mean to you?
When I first became a lawyer I struggled to find role models. I was intimidated by the women at the very top of the profession. The very traditional and old-fashioned hierarchy of the system meant I felt those above me were difficult to approach and hard to talk to. As I got older I realised that those at the top are, generally speaking, always willing to reach back and lend a helping hand to those who are treading the path after them. For me, my role models are those willing to share their stories, share their moments of weakness, be generous with their time, generous with opportunities and to never close the door on someone seeking their help.
#2 Since when are you personally committed to equal rights and against sexism especially in the legal profession?
I have always felt the importance of ensuring equality within our profession. As criminal advocates we represent society and we ought to reflect those we serve. It is competitive to secure a training place as a barrister and I now dedicate time to assisting with equality of entry to the profession. I mentor several young women who hope to apply to become barristers. My profession has a problem with retaining women after several years of practice. It often coincides with the age women start to have children. I am outspoken in opposing extending the operating hours of the UK courts - which would make the job almost impossible for those with young children or with other caring responsibilities. If we want to ensure we retain a diverse workforce we must consider practical measures to help the day-to-day lives of practitioners.
#3 How important are the media, press, radio and social media?
Social media has opened up the legal profession like never before. When I was 18 and considering a career as a lawyer, the profession felt closed and difficult to access. Students can now see lawyers going about their professional lives online, they can interact with them and form early professional relationships. On a wider note, the public have an appetite to know more about a profession that – at least in the UK – can be quite unusual. The wigs and the gowns we wear are old-fashioned and it is often assumed the profession is too.
We hope to demystify that and explain the job so that a wider range of students might consider joining us.
#4 Who is your audience?
When I am in the courtroom, my main audience is the jury. I cross-examine witnesses in order to build the blocks of my case. At the end of each trial I address the jury directly and seek to persuade them that my arguments are logical, reasonable and can be accepted. Outside of the courtroom, I speak and write for both the legal industry but also for the wider public. I have been pleased to see the interest the public have shown to learn more about crime, courts, prisons and reform. I also spend time mentoring and providing online sessions for students who may wish to enter the profession.
#5 Who supports you or with whom you prefer to work together?
I enjoy collaborating with a wide range of people on each case. I am very lucky in that I work with a new group of people in almost every trial. From my opponents to the police officers, from expert witnesses to my solicitors – most cases involve different people which means the work is never stale or boring. We work from a set of ‘chambers’ which comprise barristers together who share an office building and ‘clerks’ who manage our diaries. It is a collegiate, friendly profession and chambers support their members almost as a professional family. I am fortunate to have several mentors in the profession – some are ‘QCs’ and others are judges – they all provide me with crucial advice and guidance as I progress with my career.
#6 Your personal tip for success:
Be kind to yourself.
This job can be punishing when the hours are long and the cases are difficult. We see humans having the worst days of their lives and we are expected to wake up the next day and do it all over again. The heavy responsibility, the stressful court cases and the sustained workload mean you will often need a break.
I always recommend to junior lawyers that they pursue a hobby or an interest outside of court. I bought a miniature dachshund dog during a particularly stressful year and love to walk him before and after court. I think about the questions I will ask the witness or the legal argument I will pursue in front of the judge - it helps me clear my head and plan my workload.