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The Secret Barrister

Book cover - stylised portrait of a barristerBy The Secret Barrister
Review by Kate (Law)

Having realised that I wanted to study Law, towards the start of year 12 I decided to start doing some reading to support this aim. I knew that I wanted to start with an engaging and varied book that would introduce me to key legal issues. The Secret Barrister’s debut novel provided exactly that.

This book deals with the failings of the UK’s justice system through a series of engaging and anecdotal stories which not only gripped me as the reader but also increased my understanding of a range of legal issues including the lack of support available for disadvantaged defendants and the frighteningly low prosecution rate of many serious offences. Alongside this, the Secret Barrister provides a comprehensive overview of the core elements of the legal system, including the difference between an inquisitorial and adversarial system and the structure of the courts. This background knowledge benefitted me significantly during the application system and now during my studies. The book increased my knowledge of the law which helped me enormously in writing my personal statement.

The Secret Barrister also grapples with much broader issues than those usually discussed in relation to the Law. The discussion of the attitude adopted by much of the British population towards criminals and the eagerness to inflict harsh punishments on all criminals, regardless of their situation, has enlightened me about the consequences of a merely punitive legal system. This has led me to consider the aims which underpin the legal system, an issue I had not previously encountered in my reading.

This book has also benefitted me academically and helped me prepare for studying at Oxford. The critical tone used by the author throughout the book has guided me on how to improve my essays and develop coherent and interesting arguments.

Regardless of if you want to study Law or have any pre-existing interest in the criminal justice system, I recommend reading The Secret Barrister to increase your awareness and understanding of the foundations of the British legal system.

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister
ISBN-10: 1509841148
ISBN-13: 978-1509841141

Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.

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