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MA participates in Schools' Question Time

Working with partners to raise awareness of the magistracy


23 May 2022
MA participates in Schools' Question Time

Written by Dawn Gibbons, deputy chair of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network

As a part of the Lord Chief Justice's ongoing schools initiative, I was invited to participate in a Schools' Question Time event co-convened by the Judicial Office and Young Citizens – the largest charity involved in public legal education in the UK – on 9 May 2022. These events see judges, magistrates and legal representatives educate young people about the justice system in England and Wales.

This was my second time representing and promoting the magistracy at a Schools' Question Time. The first took place virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, so it was a joy to be able to meet the students in person – and in such a grand setting: the Royal Courts of Justice. I'm fascinated by 19th and 20th century world history, so attending one of the highest civil courts in the UK (opened by Queen Victoria in 1882) was an absolute honour!

To celebrate 100 years since the first woman was called to the bar in England, this year's panel was comprised solely of women. I felt extremely proud to sit alongside The Rt Hon Lady Justice Simler DBE (a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales), Caroline Jepson (President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and Lynette Wieland (an Associate at Browne Jacobson). 

Together, we fielded questions from students from Lister School, Twickenham School, St Michaels College and Westminster City School on topics ranging from working/volunteering as a woman in a male-dominated field to dealing with prejudices relating to race, gender, and/or disability. I used this opportunity to talk about the obstacles I've encountered as a Black woman living with a disability, and how hard we – at the Magistrates' Association – work to overcome these via our diversity and inclusion networks. I also shared my late father's motto, which I have lived by since his passing when I was 16, with the students: “You can be anything you want to be”.

Interacting with these passionate young people was so wonderful and inspiring. I'm really happy to have been able to help them gain a better understanding of what it is like being a magistrate.

 

Photo credit: Judicial Office

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