My reason for going to the bar was a purely selfish one, to empower myself as a gay man. Being a barrister gave me the opportunity to be an advocate not only representing others but myself as a human being. In serving others I aim to be ‘the mouthpiece for those who know the words but have no voice’.
Being a lawyer is so important. It is a way to change law without having to go through politics. It’s a very important check and balance in relation to how parliament acts. That’s why my three favourite words are litigation, litigation, litigation. Through litigation, we have changed governmental policy.
Yes. I do a lot of policy and academic work. I advise the UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees and governments around the world on asylum claims based on sexual or gender identity, including providing training on the Difference Stigma, Shame, Harm (DSSH) model. I created the model in 2011 and it was endorsed by UNHCR in 2012 in their international protection guidelines followed by various governments including Finland, Sweden, New Zealand and since October 2014, the UK as a model for identifying and determining a gay asylum claim in a humane manner. I am additionally a first generation immigrant, and actively involved in campaigning in the field of migrant rights. Recently, I was one of 15 faces of the “I am an Immigrant” poster campaign, organised by the Movement Against Xenophobia. The national poster campaign aimed to provide a human face to immigration.
There have been leaps and bounds but still sometimes it’s one step forwards, two steps back. It’s very much a question of keeping the message going forward.
The University has an international reputation for academic excellence and friendliness. It nurtured and developed my advocacy, academic rigour and activism skills, all of which I use daily in my role as a human rights barrister.
Yes – the great friendships I established whilst at Southampton have endured and grown. I was involved in student politics, debating and public speaking at a time where there was a lot of work to be done with respect to equality and diversity issues. Working with others provided me the strength to fight the fight, to educate, to change minds.
Excellence and the thirst for more knowledge are at the core of academic experience at Southampton. What Southampton also gives you is the ability to build on the human experience to make you a better person. Both these attributes have contributed significantly to the person I am now, and the person I aspire to be in the future.
Clients who say to me: “thankyou for saving my life”. I am a publicly funded legal aid lawyer, so my financial income is nothing compared to the private commercial sector, but what is priceless is hearing my clients say those words.