Jo is one of the UK’s leading family barristers specialising in child protection law, and is a member of 4 Paper Buildings Chambers. She is recognised for her award winning work in contentious cases involving complex medical evidence and catastrophic injuries to/ the death of a child, child sex abuse, witchcraft/ ritualized abuse and ISIS radicalisation cases. Her clients often have mental health difficulties or serious learning difficulties.
Jo is also a Gresham Professor of Law since 2016. Her lecturers have been covered by newspapers such as The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times. In March 2019 Jo was given the Freedom of the City of London to mark the centenary of 100 years of suffrage in recognition of her contribution to the Law.
In 2020 Jo was part of the First 100 Years podcasts series by Spark 21& featured in Middle Temple’s ‘Women of Distinction Exhibition’ which celebrated a 100 years of the right of a woman to join the legal profession and practice as barristers, and solicitors.
Professor Leslie Thomas QC is one of the top rated silks in the country, ranked leading individual by both Chambers and the Legal 500 (2020). He has been a QC since 2014. He was educated at a South London comprehensive and studied law at Kingston University.
Professor Thomas is a leading expert in claims against the police and other public authorities, and claims against corporate bodies, with expertise across the full spectrum of civil wrongs, civil litigation, human rights, data and privacy claims. He is an expert in all aspects of inquests and public inquiries, having represented many bereaved families, in particular where there has been abuse of state or corporate power.
As well as winning cases, Thomas has won a string of awards for his work and has been called to the Bar in several other international legal jurisdictions. Until 31 January 2020, Professor Thomas served as a joint Heads of Chambers at Garden Court Chambers. He is a Bencher to the Inner Temple, where he is also Deputy Master for inclusivity and diversity. He is on the Bar Standards Board, the bar’s regulatory body. He has also served on the management committee of Liberty and the Central London Law Centre. He was appointed as a professor of Law at Gresham College in 2020.
Mass is the Founder and Chairman of Bridging the Bar, as well as a Barrister at the Government Legal Department (GLD). In July 2020, Mass became the first pupil ever to be awarded “Barrister of the Week” by The Lawyer.
During his pupillage, he spent a six-month secondment at Blackstone Chambers in which he practised Commercial Law, Public law, Human Rights Law, Financial Regulatory Law and Sports Law.
From an early age, Mass did not believe that a career at the Bar was possible for him, largely because he did not fit the conventional image of a practising barrister. Recognising that his achievements in the law can inspire others, he has dedicated himself to opening the doors of opportunity for people from non-traditional backgrounds.
Mass has written numerous articles on the topic of diversifying the legal profession and he is regularly booked to speak at events across the UK. To find out more please visit www.massndownjie.com or the various social media platforms that are linked above.
Aaron Mayers is the Deputy Chairman at Bridging the Bar, and a pupil barrister at 3 Paper Buildings. Determined to further equality of opportunity at the Bar, Aaron joined the BTB team with the intention of creating positive, tangible change in the profession.
Aaron understands the journey of coming to the Bar from a non traditional background. He grew up in social housing, attended a state school and is in the first generation of his family to go to university.
With a First-Class law degree from the University of Westminster and having received several scholarships on his way to obtaining pupillage, he also understands the importance of making the most from adverse circumstances. He aspires to assist all aspiring barristers who share this mentality. Aaron often speaks at events and creates content for aspiring barristers.
Srishti is a barrister at Coram Chambers, a leading family law set in London. She studied Law at the University of Oxford, the BPTC at BPP Holborn, and a masters in Law and Gender at SOAS. She is passionate about equality and representation both in the legal profession and in the treatment of the law itself. She has published articles on the impact of race and gender on the welfare analysis in radicalisation cases in the family court. In her spare time, she is a trained dancer, loves learning languages, and (sometimes successfully) experiments in the kitchen.
Her chambers profile can be found here: https://www.coramchambers.co.uk/srishti-suresh/
As a mature student of dual heritage and a single mother, the challenges facing diversity and equality within the legal profession are a stark reality for Emma. In her role as MTSA President in 2018, she organised and hosted the first Black History Month Qualifying session, which has now become an annual event.
Emma has received an Access to the Bar Award and a Jules Thorn Scholarship from Middle Temple which made her career at the Bar a tangible possibility. Emma is honoured to be part of the Bridging the Bar Committee and create opportunities for those from underrepresented backgrounds, some with experiences similar to her own. She is dedicated to diversifying the profile of the Bar. Outside of her role at BTB, she serves as the Middle Temple Young Barrister’s Association (MTYBA’s) Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and sits on the Bar Council Race Working Group.
Emma currently works at Miles & Partners Solicitors in the Public Family Law department. She deals primarily with care proceedings, featuring non-accidental injury, radicalisation, sexual abuse and a range of matters. She also featured in the advertisement of the Centenary Exhibition of prominent female middle templars, as part of the commemoration to recognise 100 years of the Sexual Disqualification Act 1919, which made it legal for women to be barristers, judges and jury members.
Mat is the Deputy Chambers Director of Blackstone Chambers. He is a member of the senior management team responsible for the strategic planning, management and administration of Chambers with a particular focus on practice management and marketing/business development. This is his second stint at Blackstone Chambers, having first been employed as the Communications and Marketing Manager (2005-2007). He was then recruited to launch and run a joint venture between YouGov, the leading research organisation, and Centaur, the listed publisher. Previously, Mat spent seven years as a journalist with The Lawyer magazine, latterly as deputy editor. He rejoined Blackstone Chambers in June 2008.
André Carty is the Business Development Officer at Bridging the Bar, and a aspiring commercial barrister. Daring to disturb the inequality of opportunity at the Bar, André joined the BTB team to ease the financial pressures for aspiring barristers.
André empathises with the myriad of challenges we face when striving for success. Arriving in the UK at age 6 overcoming abject poverty to pursue a career at the Bar. He grew up in social housing, attending a state school from a non traditional background.
In spite of his circumstances, André founded his university’s fist law clinic, graduated with a law degree from Southampton Solent University whilst caring for his mother. He embodies that you don’t have to have the most to be in a position to give more. André speaks at events and frequently engages with local and international communities in philanthropic projects.
Blessing Mukosha Park is a multifaceted future barrister, with her eyes on both the Law and Digital Media. A Futurist, she is passionate about the ways the Bar can adapt to modern technology and digital communication methods. She was honoured to join the Bridging the Bar Committee as ensuring equality of access to the Bar is fundamental and Blessing wants to be part of a profession that not only accepts but also embraces the diverse legal talent attempting to practise Law. In August 2017 she created ‘Blessing at the Bar’, an online platform for aspiring barristers which is just one of multiple online platforms she uses to engage with people from all around the world.
Prior to completing her Legal studies, Blessing graduated with a degree in History and Politics from the University of Warwick and during this time developed her interest in social justice movements and Law reform. In the rare moments that she is not either completing Legal work or creating digital content, she is producing blog posts and journal articles on racially disproportionate outcomes for Black and Ethnic minority children in the Youth Criminal Justice system.
Abdul is currently a civil servant, serving as a business manager at the Department for Transport (DfT). He read Law at university and graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in July 2018. It was during his degree that his interest and passion for law, negotiation and advocacy was cemented.
Abdul is passionate and committed to advancing the cause of equality of opportunity. He is an active member of the Positive Support Group and Social Mobility Network at DfT, both of which support those who are typically disadvantaged to gain access to career opportunities. He views Bridging the Bar as a similar yet unique, and purposeful organisation that will support those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are chasing a career at the Bar. He is determined to play his role in making the Bar a place where the only barriers to entry are your work-ethic and competency.
Michael is a barrister focusing on actions against the state, with a particular interest in actions against the police and other detaining bodies, such as prisons. In the criminal justice context, he represents individuals in civil actions against the police, is an active member of the Police Action Lawyers Group and has written on issues of police accountability.
He has helped to secure important outcomes for bereaved families in inquests, defended the rights of prisoners before the Parole Board and in the High Court. In his education practice, he regularly acts in cases concerning special educational needs provision and has acted in a number of successful challenges to permanent exclusion decisions.
Michael applied for pupillage several times before securing Traineeship at Matrix Chambers. From there, he secured tenancy at No5 Chambers, after an extended third six pupillage. He has a long-standing concern about inclusion at the Bar, an issue that he has spoken about publicly both on issues of race, disability and “well-being”.
Will Marsden is a Communications Officer at Bridging the Bar. After studying English and International Relations at Duke University in the USA, Will sought a career path that would allow him to give back to society. Hoping to use his communication skills to give a voice to the voiceless, Will decided to pursue a career at the Bar in England. He is currently 3 rd Year LLB student. Most recently, he interned for the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center in Texas, USA assisting experienced lawyers who represent defendants currently on death row and in their final stages of appeals.
Alongside his academic and professional engagements, Will has worked for Urban Lawyers for almost a year, where he is a member of the education team and head of mentoring. Will strives for a day when the judiciary is representative of the society in which it operates. To this end, he hopes to bring his experience and passions to BTB to improve equality of opportunity at the Bar.
Eleanor Tack is a Communications Officer at Bridging the Bar. After spending a year working for the Red Cross in France, Eleanor completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations at King’s College London. Eleanor has spent time working in a Johannesburg-based law firm on community land rights and is now working for the Parisian Red Cross in Family Tracing, before completing her GDL in September 2021 and pursuing a career at the Bar.
From a small town in Derbyshire, state-school educated and raised by a community therapist and a pub chef, Eleanor understands imposter-syndrome and the feeling of needing to be a certain “type” of person to succeed at the Bar. Eleanor is keen to smash this stereotype and create a community whereby anyone, with the resilience, drive and intellectual ability, feels comfortable pursuing a career at the Bar.
Eleanor has a breadth of experience organising networking events, panel discussions and lectures engaging students and barristers from non-traditional backgrounds.