It takes a strong personality to persuade a jury one way or the other and Sheryl Nwosu is one of the talented few. The London-based barrister is now using her skills to inspire young people to acheive their dreams, by setting the example that hard work can result in achieving your dreams.
This Friday Sheryl will be featured alongside Michelle Moore, Winsome Cornish, Gisella Asante and three other outstanding women at the next I’mPOSSIBLE Conversation, taking place as part of the Women of the World festival during International Women’s Day at London’s Southbank Centre.
Parlour: Why did you choose criminal law?
Criminal law offered the greatest opportunity for advocacy through speaking in court. When I thought about being a lawyer I knew I wanted to argue cases rather than be in an office preparing cases, which, when I studied law, was pretty much the role of solicitors. I also was attracted to the idea of being self-employed. My very limited experiences of being an employee made me realise that a 9 to 5 and all that entailed including going to the same place day in day out, earning a set salary and being managed did not appeal to me at all.
What social issues did you see growing up in the North West council houses?
The area I grew up in was described as socially and economically deprived but that wasn’t a label that I adopted about myself or one that I’ve carried with me about where I grew up. The kind of social injustices I perceived were mainly to do with housing inadequacies and associated dissatisfaction, complaints about treatment by the police, and a feeling that those complaints and dissatisfaction were unimportant and rarely addressed.
How have those issues shaped the person you’ve become?
Back then they were just factors of life, observations I was able to make and situations I was aware existed. I think growing up in North West London partly fuelled my ambition to go into law but at the same time there’s a part of me that thinks that was always written.
A legal career sounded challenging, high flying and fun so I decided to pursue it. Certainly the idea of being in a job where I could potentially challenge and address some of the issues I’d heard about the criminal justice system also motivated my choice.
Did you find the bar or being a woman difficult in your profession?
I never found the Bar difficult in terms of my entry to it but I would say that now it’s a far more difficult terrain to build and sustain a practice as man or a woman. I don’t find it difficult being a woman in my profession, there are plenty of them but it does have its particular challenges.
How has mentoring young people inspired you?
Working with and mentoring young people has helped me to remember the issues that remain prevalent in young people’s lives. It also reminds me that often young people need to see positive role models and situations to be able to relate to them and realise that those situations are accessible.
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