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At the time of writing this blog, I was nearing the nine-year mark of becoming a magistrate.

Being in law has always been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember – helping and giving back has also been very important to me.

I remember the day I was appointed with fond memories, proud to have successfully navigated through the year-long interview process and receiving that letter to say that I would be a magistrate. I was appointed at the Old Bailey in the infamous Court 1 and was privileged to have my oldest son, witnessing me being sworn in!

So, nine years on, how has my experience been, I hear you all ask? . Well, it has been amazing, to say the least. As part of the criminal justice system, I get to make serious and balanced judicial decisions alongside my colleagues. I have learnt and am constantly learning about the law, its application, and the impact that the decisions taken have on the individuals in my court. I get to meet so many people, colleagues, court staff and legal professionals who are just as passionate as me about upholding the rule of law.

I must say that the training that I received and still get, has been excellent, from face-to-face sessions to e-learning. It is vital that I stay up to date on changes to both criminal and civil law and I have always received full support from my mentors and colleagues.

No two days are ever the same. I have sat on many cases over the years and while some of them can be challenging and even disturbing, I always leave court knowing that the decisions that I have inputted into have been the right ones, after hearing the facts of a case, considering the law and mitigation, receiving guidance from the legal advisors and discussing with my colleagues on the bench.

Seeing someone like me, a strong black woman, facing defendants who look like me is I believe powerful, because it shows them that they can be in front of someone who understands their background to some extent. It also provides me with the opportunity to address them, not just the consequences of their actions, but how they can make a change to the direction of their lives if they really want to.

As a magistrate, there are always opportunities to do more. Aside from making judicial decisions, you can become a mentor or an appraiser, be on the committee with those who interview and appoint magistrates, and train to become a presiding justice. That’s what I am now – I am that female magistrate who ensures that the matters of the day run smoothly, asks questions of the defence, prosecution, defendants and witnesses, and delivers the pronouncements on the outcome of a case.

I am always amused when people ask me how much I get paid, as it is not a paid role but a volunteering one – one which I take great pride in doing to the best of my ability.

As a magistrate, I am appreciative of the contribution that I make to society, after all over 90 per cent of all criminal cases start and finish in the magistrates’ courts, and therefore what I do is as serious as it can get. My advice to anyone thinking about becoming a magistrate is, to do it, as you will not regret it, and we need more black women on the bench.