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David Lammy and Maxine Peake feature on Women in the Law UK podcasts

Sally Penni MBE

The Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, David Lammy, and the acclaimed actor and activist Maxine Peake are two of the latest figures to share their insights and opinions in Women in the Law UK’s Talking Law podcast series. Both interviews, which are now live online, were conducted by the organisation’s founder, Sally Penni MBE.

Mr Lammy, who became an associate tenant at Doughty Street Chambers in 2020, was the first ever Black Briton to attend Harvard Law School and practised as a barrister for several years before being elected to parliament in 2000. In 2016 he was commissioned by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, to lead a review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system.

During the podcast, which is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or direct from Women in The Law UK’s website, Mr Lammy talks about growing up on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham in the 1970s and 80s, what inspired him to enter the legal profession and why he made the jump into politics. Other topics of discussion include the findings of the Lammy Review into the criminal justice system, which was published in 2017, the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity in the criminal justice system and the need for regulation of social media, which he likens to the tobacco industry in the 1980s.

Another recent episode features the acclaimed actress Maxine Peake, who has a close association with the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, of which Miss Penni is a trustee. During the podcast Ms Peake, who played the lead role as the barrister Martha Costello in the BBC TV drama Silk from 2011 to 2014, draws a range of comparisons between the legal and acting professions.

Ms Peake, a longstanding political activist and prominent campaigner for social justice, also talks about her passionate commitment to access to justice. This is an area also discussed by Mr Lammy, who describes the current situation regarding Legal Aid as “dire”.

The Talking Law series of podcasts features interviews with a wide range of leaders in the law and high-profile individuals with an interest in the legal profession. It has achieved more than 63,000 downloads since its first episode went live in early 2019 and, following the imposition of the first coronavirus lockdown in early 2020, has moved from a monthly to a weekly production schedule.

Women in the Law UK is a professional development organisation that promotes gender diversity and women’s progression in the legal sector. The organisation, which has its roots in Manchester, is active nationwide and has held regular events in London, Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and Yorkshire.

Following the implementation of lockdown measures in March 2020, Women in the Law UK has operated a wide-ranging programme of lunchtime and evening webinars and online social events, providing a combination of education and wellbeing support. Several of these webinars are held every week.

The organisation is run by a team of volunteers who are, over the course of 2021, taking on an increasing role in its day-to-day operations. This is allowing Miss Penni, who was recently elected Master of the Bench at Gray’s Inn, to focus on expanding her legal workload.

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