In celebration of International Women’s Day, we want you to learn more about some of the incredible women in our Chambers.
In our third piece, we chat with Elizabeth Murray.
Can you tell us about your journey to the Bar?
Until A-Level results day I had been set on a career in the BBC, like my dad, but at the last minute I switched to a law degree at Liverpool University. In the second year I entered the University mooting competition and as I sat down from making my first set of submissions I realised I had found the adrenaline ride for me. It was only then that I seriously started to entertain a future career at the Bar.
I was Called to the Bar in 2005. I then worked as an assistant to David Turner KC of Exchange Chambers for 18 months which was the most fantastic experience, prosecuting drug conspiracies and murder cases, the high level cases baby barristers could only dream of. Through one of those cases I made a connection with the legal department at HMRC and I then became a paralegal with the MTIC (carousel fraud) team, and was responsible for a caseload of over £100 million. With such experience under my belt I was able to secure pupillage.
As a woman, have you faced any particular barriers in your career? If so, how did you overcome them?
From a young age I was always told I could achieve anything that I wanted to if I worked hard enough for it. I attended an all-girls secondary school and we were routinely told that no obstacles stood in our way and the world was ours if we wanted it. I truly believe that these constant words of encouragement and support have resulted in the barrister you see today.
What progress have you seen at the Bar on equality?
Even in my short time in practice, I have seen rapid progression and education which has really inspired me. It has been hugely encouraging that the Bar acknowledges it could do more and indeed wants to do more. There are many initiatives out there to help aspiring and existing Barristers realise their dreams.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give to anyone considering a career at the Bar?
Firstly, never, ever give up - whether it is in that search for pupillage, the first time you appear on your feet, or in the last trial you did. Stay resilient. Secondly, you are only as good as your last case. It is that appetite to improve and do your best for your client which keeps life at the Bar exciting. In this job you never stop learning.
Can you tell us about a woman who inspires you and why?
Try as I might I am afraid I cannot pick only one.
My nana became a widow in her late 30s. She raised three children alone and worked full-time alongside. She was a brilliant mathematician with an enthusiasm for Egyptology and Astronomy. She had a quick wit like no other and I quite simply adored her.
My dad’s career path meant he was based in London for the most part whilst the family stayed up north in Liverpool. My mum therefore ran a house for her two daughters, driving us down to London on Friday nights and bringing us home on Sunday nights. And all of this after a week of working as a primary school teacher. To my shame it was only as I grew older that I realised the enormity of the many, varied (and exhausting) roles and responsibilities that she was juggling.
It is safe to say that I come from a line of strong, fiercely independent, women and I would not be the woman I am today without them.