Chris Daw KC – Justice on Trial: Radical Solutions for a System at Breaking Point…
Chris is one of the UK’s leading barristers, specialising in criminal law, serious fraud, business regulation and professional discipline. Chris was called to the Bar in 1993 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2013.
Chris’s principal client base covers professionals, business people, high net worth individuals and public figures. In addition to criminal and regulatory proceedings in Courts and Tribunals, Chris is an expert in pre-charge advice and strategy as well as the criminal law implications of commercial disputes.
Chris recently published his best-selling book, Justice on Trial, which discusses how our criminal justice system is broken.
Chris produces articles for The Spectator and is passionately committed to social mobility in education and the legal profession.
Chris has recorded for BBC around social mobility and produced a 5-part series, “Crime – Are We Tough Enough?” Which takes a 360-degree look at our criminal justice!
Rob Hanna (00:00):
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast powered by Kissoon Carr. I’m your host, Rob Hanna. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Chris Daw QC. Chris is one of the UK’s leading barristers, specialising in criminal law, serious fraud, business regulation and professional discipline. Chris was called to the Bar in 1993 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2013. Chris’ principal client base covers professionals, businesspeople, high net worth individuals and public figures. In addition to criminal and regulatory proceedings in Courts and Tribunals, Chris is an expert in pre-charge advice and strategy as well as the criminal law implications of commercial disputes. Chris recently published his best-selling book, Justice on Trial, which discusses how our criminal justice system is broken, which we’ll be talking lots more about today. So, a very big welcome Chris!
Chris Daw QC (00:56):
Afternoon Rob! Thank you so much for having me and thank you for, you know, a big intro for my book, which I’m very excited about.
Rob Hanna (01:02):
Absolutely. And we are going to talk a lot more about that a little later on, but before we go through your illustrious career and your book, we do have a customer icebreaker question here on the L Speaking Podcast, which is on the scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real. How real would you rate the hit TV series Suits, in terms of its reality in the law?
Chris Daw QC (01:21):
Rob Hanna (01:26):
[Laughter] And that sounds about right. Most people are pretty blunt in saying anything above five is not going to happen. So we’ll move swiftly on. So let’s start at the beginning, perhaps tell our listeners a bit about your, your sort of family background and upbringing?
Chris Daw QC (01:40):
Okay. Yeah. Well, so I grew up in, of all places, Milton Keynes, which at the time was fairly new place, but I was born in the early seventies. My dad was a builder and my mum was at the time, worked in shops. And then later on became a care assistant in an old people’s home. So it was a very kind of ordinary kind of working class background, I guess you’d say. Went to a very ordinary comprehensive school in Milton Keynes. Didn’t do great in school to be honest with you and wasn’t really engaged with school and it wasn’t really the best period for state education back in the eighties. I fell on my feet at the age of 16. My mum and Dad moved somewhere where they had a brilliant state sixth form college. Just by chance, I ended up there after, you know, leaving home to go and sell donuts on the beach in the South of France, failing catastrophically in that endeavour. So, I came back with my tail between my legs and I went to sixth form college and thankfully it was a great place, the teaching staff were amazing and inspirational. And I mean, I spent most of my childhood taking no notice of education at all, I suddenly got the bug at the age of 16 and thankfully did really well at A levels. And I don’t know how far you want to go with this Rob, but I was able to then go into Manchester university after a bit of time working, I took a year out and worked for a bit in business and then did a law degree. And the rest is history. Although you know, how much history you want, you to tell me?
Rob Hanna (02:59):
Well, I guess let’s, bring it to, to the legal profession. Where did your sort of spark for wanting to go into the legal profession come from? Was that something you always sort of thought about? So yeah. Tell us more about that.
Chris Daw QC (03:10):
No, at all. So, as I explained, my parents didn’t go to university and nobody in my family had ever been to university, let alone entered one of the profession and let alone you know, got to the level of silk or anything like that, so it was totally off my radar as a child. And that may well be why I didn’t really try hard at school. When I went to sixth form college, I did a careers test on the computer where you kind of fill in the things you like and you don’t like it etc. And the computer just spat out two options as a career, and one was actor and the other was barrister. They were the only two careers on offer to me by the computer. I didn’t, I was an okay actor. I used to act in school productions and college productions and so on, but I definitely wasn’t good enough to be a professional actor. So I went to court in the summer holidays in my first year of A levels. So I was just 17 years old and I went and watched some criminal trials from the public gallery. I watched a big conspiracy case and I think I watched a bit of a murder case. And basically I just became utterly hooked on the drama, the excitement, the human interest and the passion of it all, you know, the way in which the verdict can go either way. And the whole thing was so thrilling and exciting to me that I just decided that I had to do everything within my power to get, to get that as a job, to become a criminal defence barrister or criminal barrister. And that was it! It was a spark and it lit up the rest of my life and career. And I’ve now been at the bar for 26 years. So it all goes back to that computer career stuff. I have no doubt if I hadn’t done that. I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you now.
Rob Hanna (04:39):
What a journey and what a successful career you’ve had. And before we sort of jump into the book, it’d be great to sort of tell our listeners a bit about some of your experiences. Cause you had 26 sort of fantastic years with, with Lincoln House chambers and recently moved to new chambers. Do you want to kind of just give some summary headlines of your experiences?
Chris Daw QC (04:58):
So I started off at a very small Chambers, which no longer exists, up in Manchester and just sort of cut my teeth on the usual stuff, you know, burglaries and shoplifters, the street sex workers who are sort of being constantly recycled through the magistrate’s court. So I’ll be called to punch ups outside pubs, all that low level stuff. I defended hundreds of people in my first, probably five years, dozens and dozens of trials, both in the magistrates’ court and before too long in the crown court. Just spent years and years and years relentlessly practicing, honing my skills, building networks of contacts who would refer work to me and instruct me to defend in cases. So the first sort of five years were just gathering experience and just learning the job. The next five years was kind of consolidating that, building my practice, getting into ever heavier and more meaty cases and then the following decades, so the sort of second decade of practice was really just, you know, take it up to a whole new level to the point where I’d been at the bar 19 years, 18, 19 years and I applied to silk. And that was a time when my practice was almost entirely complex and serious crime, organized crime, serious fraud, really difficult, kind of complex murder conspiracies. And on the back of that practice of maybe 20 years, I was appointed silk nearly eight years ago now. But in silk my practice is completely different. It’s all over the show. It’s everything from England footballers, to international corporations, to oil refinery frauds in Singapore. So literally it is the most eclectic mix of clients and cases, and silk for me is the opportunity to get involved in just so many more things. And it’s so much more interesting in many ways. And I did 20 years of the heavy sort of mainstream, but heavy, serious crime. And I still do some of that, but my practice now is literally as eclectic anyone can be and therefore all the more thrilling and exciting for it.
Rob Hanna (07:00):
Yeah, no, that sounds truly fascinating. I love that kind of spread of work that you do. And again, just sort, before we talk about Justice On Trial, you do a lot of mentoring work for the General Counsel of the Bar of England & Wales. Do you want to just tell us a bit more about that?
Chris Daw QC (07:16):
I’d hesitate to call it a lot. I’m on the panel I’d like to do more and it’s amazing actually, because there’s not that many reach out. But the mentoring I do on the bar council scheme is for people who are wanting to apply for silk and maybe slightly lacking in confidence, or maybe they’ve applied and been rejected. And they’re looking for support from someone who’s been through the process and obviously successfully been through the process. So my kind of condition of mentoring is that I only mentor people who come from what you might call non-traditional backgrounds, you know, state school educated or ethnic minority groups who are kind of traditionally underrepresented in silk and find it more difficult, I think, to kind of make the progress that’s needed. But even if that progress is only in their own head in terms of confidence to go forward, I do that. I really enjoy it. I mean, I liked being a pupil supervisor when I did that as well, which was obviously very different, someone just starting out in their career. But I get a lot out of both mentoring and supporting students and young people as they come through into the profession, because to be honest with you, there wasn’t really much like that when I was starting out. And it was a really quite intimidating place to come to the bar as a person from my background, not having any contacts, not knowing anyone who’s a judge or QC and having to sort of start completely from scratch. I do also work with a couple of youth charities. I’m in the process of kind of working with some others, to establish a new program for young people to try and give them mentoring and social mobility support. It’s just something that, to me is just essential because you know, our profession still remains less diverse than it should be. And really there is a big underrepresentation of certain groups, particularly state educated, you know, in relative terms, it’s still a much smaller group than it should be. So anything I can do and being frank with you, I get a lot out of it, very rewarding. I find it very interesting. So it’s not really kind of something that I see as a sacrifice or anything at all. It’s something that I really enjoy.
Rob Hanna (09:06):
Well, I definitely think there’ll be a lot more people kind of reaching out off the back of everything you’re doing and have done. And that leads us very nicely onto ‘Justice On Trial: Radical Solutions for a System at Breaking Point.’ So of course this is your book that let’s start at the beginning of that. What was the motivation behind wanting to write the book?
Chris Daw QC (09:25):
Well, it’s very interesting. See, remember I told you how I only became a barrister because of a computer?
Rob Hanna (09:31):
Chris Daw QC (09:31):
Well in 1986 or seven, I had no intention of writing a book last year. I had a very large trial that was due to take place and a plethora of other commitments, legal and vested commitments. But basically, one of my great passions has always been around the reform of drug law and the, you know, the insanity that is drug prohibition. And the fact that basically many, many, if not most of our problems in the criminal justice system are caused directly by drug prohibition because of the vast amount of police resources taken up with drugs and a huge number of people in prison for drug defences or drug-related defences. And it’s just something that I just find so frustrating. So as a result of that kind of cumulative sense of irritation, frustration, just, you know, just disbelief almost that we’re so wedded to prohibition. I wrote an article for The Spectator, which I think published in February or March of last year and it had a ton of credit and it was about the legalization of drugs. And I set out in a sort of thousand word article, why I was so passionate about legalizing drugs and it got a lot of attention in the media and on social media and within a week or two of writing the article, I got an email from my now editor at Bloomsbury, Jamie who sent me an email completely out of the blue saying, ‘I enjoyed your article in The Spectator, can I come and see you about doing a book for us?’. And so he did with one of his colleagues, comes to my chambers and we sat down. And then I think that was in March or early April of last year. And then within a month they had commissioned Justice On Trial. And that meant I had to deliver a manuscript by the end of last year. So I then spent many, many months whilst I was working full time. Fortunately, the trial I mentioned was adjourned for various reasons. So I had this chunk of time in the Autumn which I hadn’t expected to have. But yeah, I spent months researching. I employed a team of researchers who practically did some of the heavy lifting because the timeframes involved. And I travelled a lot as you know, for the book to the States and various places in Europe. And then I sat down on the 4th of October of last year, I say, sat down, I was on an airplane. So I definitely sat down on the, on an airplane seat on my way to Atlanta for a research for it. And I started the manuscript on the 4th of October and I delivered the manuscript on the 4th of January. So three months from starting the word document to delivering the manuscript. And of course there’s a huge amount of work thereafter in terms of editing and proofreading. So many people involved in book production, you’ve got no idea! But that’s the potted history of how Justice On Trial was born. I didn’t intend to write it, but given the opportunity, I bit their hand off and they’ve been brilliant. I mean they’re a great publisher, Bloomsbury, really good people, and I’m really happy with the way the book’s gone and the ideas that are in it are getting out there. And as you know, it’s also full of juicy stories about cases I’ve done over the last 25 years. It was great. I loved doing it and I was really glad they asked me and I hope people are enjoying reading as well.
Rob Hanna (12:22):
Yeah. And we definitely, you know, there’s so much juicy stuff in there. We won’t be able to go through it all today. So people should definitely check out the book. But in terms of, you know, a couple of points just to sort of dig a bit deeper, why do you think we haven’t legalized drugs?
Chris Daw QC (12:35):
Well, I make the point in the book. I think it’s pretty clear that it’s because of the politics, the politics are not in favour of drug legalization. You know, I’m advocating a fully licensed, fully regulated system, not just a decriminalization. And a fully licensed and regulated drug supply chain in the same way as alcohol is fully regulated in license and tobacco for that matter. And that is something I think that is just politically unacceptable because the minute that a politician were to come out in public and say, I’m an advocating for the licensing regulation of drugs like cocaine and heroin or ecstasy. Unfortunately I think the press would just have, it would be too tempting to, to kind of just, describe it as being sort of soft on crime, letting everybody take as much drugs as they want and society will just turn into a chaotic mess of druggies on every street corner, which of course is nonsense and isn’t the case in any society where they have legalised drug laws. But I think it’s the politics, Rob it’s as simple as that. If people, when they vote, were to stop listening to politicians who say let’s crack down, let’s get tough, let’s get on these drug dealers, these druggies needs to be sorted out, you know, and all of this kind of rhetoric that you hear at election time, if people started to see that for what it was, which is just nonsense and rhetoric and hot air, then maybe we’d start to get somewhere. Or if we get a really charismatic politician perhaps on the left or the centre left who comes and actually says, I’m in favour of drug use makes the case. And is so overwhelmingly popular and elected with a big mandate that he or she can carry pout serious drug reform. But I’m afraid like so many things that it’s about politics
Rob Hanna (14:19):
In your book, you argue people should be criminalized after they are 18. What do we do about people who commit crimes before that?
Chris Daw QC (14:31):
Well, they, they shouldn’t be called crimes because by argument it is essentially, It’s not completely revolutionary because the country is conservative. And, you know, with a small C and probably a large C as Luxembourg, sort of wealthy, very middle class kind of country. A small country in Northern Europe. They have at the age of majority; the age where you can vote, where you get all of the rights of being a citizen and the age at which you get all of the responsibility of being a citizen. It’s the same age, it’s 18. So in Luxembourg, they have the model, which is that if you are a child under 18, you are treated as a child for all purposes. So you can’t vote. You can’t you know, you can’t exercise any of the other rights that are only available to adults, but at the same time, you’re not given and have imposed upon you, the criminal law and responsibilities that are imposed on adults. So they made the age of majority, the voting age, all the other ages and the age of criminal responsibility is also 18. And that to me is just so obviously common sense because how can you say that a child isn’t sufficiently mature to vote in an election, but is sufficiently mature, as we have in England from the age of 10, to be able to commit a crime, it just doesn’t make any sense to me. The evidence is crystal clear that the development process in fact carries on well into the twenties. Certainly children under 18 are going through so much development that to justify the same standards as an adult is simply irrational, as well as being deeply damaging to the child, but also deeply damaging to society because children who are criminalized as we do in England end up overwhelmingly being criminalized as adults, because they’ve been conditioned to be, be themselves as criminals, behave in a criminal way. And they’re put through the criminal process. They don’t think there’s anything odd about going to court and being locked up in a young offender institution, which is basically a horrific prison. And so the whole way in which we look at children needs to change. And I think our society is not the best anyway, when it comes to children. I think our children in the care system are badly dealt with are not cared for adequately, many, many of them and in the justice and the prison system. So I just think we should look at what Luxembourg has done and if a child does commit an act which would be criminal for an adult, perhaps even a serious one, the way that the Luxembourg system works is that you, you never call the child a young offender or young criminal. What you do is you put them into an education environment, which is appropriate. So in the tiny number of cases where a child is seriously violent, then you have a secure school where they can’t come and go. Because a great majority of children where their behaviour may be criminal in nature, or would be for an adult, actually all they needed was an appropriate education environment, with appropriate support, appropriate living conditions, a general welfare pattern in place and 9 out of 10 of them come through the process and they just joined society as a law-abiding citizen. Whereas overwhelmingly in our system where we criminalize them, a very substantial number of them, the majority in fact, will end up being adult criminals. So it’s just applying the evidence to what seems to be a fairly obvious solution. And the evidence says that you shouldn’t criminalize kids. And I don’t myself believe kids are ever criminal in the way that adults are.
Rob Hanna (18:01):
Yeah, no, that’s a really interesting point. And I’m sure a lot of people will agree with you. And I guess just talking more around the, the book generally then, when you were researching for your book, where did you visit that had the largest impact on you?
Chris Daw QC (18:21):
I visited one of the County jails which for me was like going into a dystopian nightmare where mentally ill people were just caged, in a huge cage, massively over crowded, literally bouncing off the wall. Seeing that the US sort of mass incarceration model and the punitive nature of US criminal justice. Which obviously we all know about from film representation, but it was shocking, deeply shocking. And the fact that those in the system can justify it as well, even Judges will say, ‘Well, we know this is crazy but people vote for it. So we have to give them what they vote for, even though it does our society immeasurable harm’. I mean, I was literally told that by a judge in America, ‘I know that what I do every day causes immeasurable harm to our society but I have to do or no one would vote for me’. So it was that one extreme, and at the other extreme, I think the thing that really moved me, emotionally if you like, on the journey, was when I went to see the heroin assisted treatment program in Geneva. And also the drug consumption room in Geneva, which very interestingly. So heroin assisted treatment for those of you who don’t know, is literally, as it suggests. Heroin users are given heroin. They give you pharmaceutical grade heroin twice a day. And they come into a clinic. It’s very pleasant. It’s just like any sort of GP surgery or very pleasant environment. They have a consumption room with a sterilized table and needle and everything else. And they can take heroin with a nurse present so there is no danger of overdose. Their health is protected, and they can have HIV tests and they can get access to healthcare. The humanity of that was absolutely in comparison to the way we treat drug users, particularly the more serious heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine users in this country, was absolutely incredibly powerful, incredibly moving. The professionals out there that I spoke to the head of that clinic, the head of the overall addiction service in Geneva, an amazing woman who I described in the book who’s been in psychiatric addictions and medicine for 30 odd years. Just seeing the stark contrast between the inhumanity of the U S approach, the sort of the very stark almost just brutal approach of the Americans, even though it doesn’t work against the kinder, more humane and pragmatic approach of the Swiss who are also very conservative county, you know it’s not a country full of radicals, but the Swiss reform was fascinating because the reason they reformed their drug laws was not because a politician told the people to, but because the people in Switzerland have a referenda on everything! I mean almost everything is a referendum issue. And the people said to the government, we don’t want drug users shooting up in our parks, playgrounds or railway stations. You know, making our streets unsafe, making themselves unsafe, spreading HIV. So the public demanded reform of drug treatment and drug law and the public get what they want cause they just vote on a referendum and they voted time and again, over the last 30 years to increase the amount of rehabilitation, the amount of liberalization and legalization around drugs, the medicalization rather than the criminalization of it, and the success has been astounding. You know, they come from one of the highest rates of HIV and drug related death in the world, to one of the lowest. And if that is not good enough for those people who constantly argue against drug reformation, then what is? You know, if you don’t want to save lives, you don’t want to reduce crime, what the hell is the point of the law?!
Rob Hanna (21:45):
Well said, well said Chris, and I think just moving, moving on and talking about sort of other countries, I believe in your book, you discussed how Norway has a much better prison system. Tell us more about that.
Chris Daw QC (21:57):
Yeah. So Norway have a very small prison system in terms of rate of incarceration. It is a fraction of ours and a minute fraction of that of the U S with its 2.3 million prisoners, but Norway’s small prison is reserved only for those who are genuinely violent and a risk to the public. So they don’t imprison that many people, very, very few people in prison for non-violent crimes or financial crime or what have you, because they recognize that actually the outcomes for such people are far worse in prison. So they do something that involves them remaining outside prison. But the prisons themselves are very interesting. The Norwegian model is to make prisons even for the most violent, because even the most violent, with a tiny number of exceptions, will one day get out and will one day be back on the streets. It’s no good writing people off because almost every prisoner in Britain will get out, and the Norwegians are the same, almost every prisoner will get out. And so what they focus on is making the prison environment as normal as possible. So they have a complex that looks like apartments or small rooms and shared living rather than our conventional Victorian model of clanging gates, big brick, red brick walls, and barbed wire, and the whole psychological infrastructure that we impose on our prisoners. They don’t have any of that. They’re low rise buildings. They keep their people secure, but they do so in a way that allows the prisoners to live as normally as possible. and the consequence of doing that even to the point where they have a cottage in one of the prisons, in the grounds where, you know, prisoners who have proved themselves to be trustworthy etc. can have their family there, their wife and kids, can come and stay for weekend or so. Just so that again, they maintain normality, they maintain their family networks, they maintain their parental responsibility and so on. And so the idea of the whole system is that when they walk out of that prison and after a relatively short time, in most cases compared to English prison, but when they walk out, they are basically not, they don’t walk out blinking in the sunlight, saying to themselves ‘oh my god where am I? I don’t recognise any of the world’. They are given a prison path that is as normal as possible so when they come back out of prison they basically can blend back into society much more easily than our prisoners do. And our prisoners find it nigh impossible. I mean, there’s a, you know, 75 or odd percent overall recidivism rate for people who have been to English prisons. Whereas the Norwegian experience, even though their prisoners on average are much more violent because they only imprison their most violent. Their recidivism rate after two years is only 20%, which is a tiny fraction of ours. And ultimately I asked the same questions as I do in relation to drugs. If the point of the criminal justice system is to reduce the overall amount of crime then the Norwegian system and the Norwegian approach to sentencing is infinitely more successful in that basic objective than our completely broken system which achieves the exact opposite at a far greater cost.
Rob Hanna (25:07):
There we have it folks, there we have it, Chris has spoken. And I totally, I totally hear where you’re coming from. And in a recent interview with Channel Four, you mentioned that you are a disillusioned barrister, has that affected the way your practice at all?
Chris Daw QC (25:19):
No, it hasn’t because I think my disillusionment with the system and the inherent flaws in the system and the fact that it’s, you know, the outcomes are so unsatisfactory, not just for my clients in some cases and other defendants across the system as a whole, but most importantly, the outcomes are deeply unsatisfactory for victims of crime who often wait many, many months, if not years, to get the case to court because the courts are so overcrowded with a backlog of non-cases that shouldn’t even be there in particular, low level drug crime, and other forms of perhaps financial crime that could easily be dealt with by other means outside of the formal criminal justice system. So victims are badly treated in the system. And that fills me with despair and dismay, because it should be at the heart of the justice process, not an afterthought as they so often are. The most important reason I am dismayed and like you say, it is hard for me to look at a system I’ve worked in for so long, fail every single day. And the most important reason is the system does the opposite of that for which we have it and what it’s there for, which is instead of overall improving the quality of life in our society for all our citizens, reducing the amount of crime, improving the lives of those who enter the criminal justice system and those in the communities that are affected heavily by crime. All our system does is make it worse for everybody. You know what is really just breath-taking to me, all the billions of pounds that we waste in our system, it’s basically digging a hole and filling it back in again every day. And actually we never quite fill it up as much as we’ve dug it, you know, increasingly we’ve seen prison numbers almost double in a generation or more than double in a generation under the governments of all parties. And we’ve seen, you know, rates of drug overdose and drug debt, you know, skyrocket. And, you know, these are the things that we should be looking to reduce. We’ve seen street crime, murder on the streets, gang violence, all of those things keep ratcheting up and up and we keep trying the same old rubbish. The same old let’s get tough, let’s get longer sentences, even mandatory custodial sentences for teenagers at 16 for knife offenses rather than asking ourselves how do we make it work and how do we make it efficient. And stop wasting taxpayers’ money on things that don’t work and use the money on something that actually means that our society will be a happier and better and safer place. And that’s why it’s depressing. There’s an opportunity though. I’ve given a really clear plan in the book. If anyone wants to know. If hopefully one day a politician with some power will get hold of my book or at least read the chapter headings, which are fairly as, you know, fairly direct and to the point and think, okay, all right, well then we’re not going to go as far as this guy wants us to, but let’s at least have a look at some of these ideas and start talking about it.
Rob Hanna (28:16):
No, absolutely. And I’m sure a lot of our listeners that are far and wide will be quite happy to champion you and this book to make sure we get it into those right hands. Cause as you say, a lot, a lot needs to be done and it is time to change. And one other thing I wanted to sort of talk around is, you know, being from the legal industry, a lot of it, lot of things, obviously in writing, but you’ve also recorded an audio version of your book. So how did you find recording it? So I think I saw on LinkedIn that it took you about three straight days, if not more.
Chris Daw QC (28:45):
Yeah it’s a three-day process. So basically the audio book, which is on Audible on the Amazon platform, which I think most people are familiar with and use. But the audio book is basically the book, the whole book. It’s not an edited version. So I read the entire book. It took three days because of edits and obviously you have to you know, you fluff the odd word here or there. So you have to go back and redo a passage and there’s a stop start. And you get the occasional break for a glass of water or something. So it was not quite three or four days, but it was three days of studio time. The end result is seven hours, 10 minutes, which is the whole book start to finish .And people can hear more every now and again or they can hear the whole book in a day! It’s a very accessible book, I hope. It is supposed to be anyways. Now the actual copy. When you take out the index is actually 250 or so pages. It’s not a very thick legal book as you know, it’s a book that is just full of, I hope, interesting stories and the story that they’re really fascinating cases that I’ve done over the years, And people I’ve met and so on, but also because they do many times illustrate that the core arguments of the book around prisons and drugs and child and youth crime, youth justice. But yeah, reading the audiobook, to be honest, Rob, I was one of those kids who, if the teacher said, you know, who wants to read out loud, my hand would go up. So I had no problem reading out loud and never have done. I was quite happy to do it. Actually, It was quite enjoyable and cathartic to read my own book as every other time, I’d read the book as part of an editing process, which took many, many drafts. I mean probably a dozen or more, I mean constantly rereading and rechecking and so on, but to actually have the luxury when we had the final version, to just sit in a small studio with headphones on and a microphone and read the whole thing, was actually quite pleasurable. I enjoyed reading my own book. So I hope other people enjoy listening to me reading it as much as I enjoyed reading out loud.
Rob Hanna (30:37):
Well, and I know you’ve had such a fantastic, you know, initial response to the book thus far, but just for those people who may not have heard just yet, where can they buy a copy of Justice On Trial from?
Chris Daw QC (30:48):
Well, Justice On Trial is pretty much available from all of the booksellers, certainly Amazon, which many people use, but Waterstones, all the big book sellers and some of the ones that people, perhaps those who don’t like the big corporate bookseller also buy from their kind of trusted ethical supplier of books, basically it’s available for all of the books that are online. And many of the high street book sellers, Waterstones for example, are stocking the book. It’s available pretty much anywhere. It’s also on Amazon, it’s on Kindle. So people just download it instantly on their Kindle or their computer or their phone. And as you say, Audible, so people can listen to it when they’re on the move, so yeah, it’s available all over the place and it’s just Google Chris Daw QC Justice On Trial and or you can just go on Amazon and find it. And hopefully people will order the hardback which I have to say, it’s quite a beautiful hardback. I think you’ve got a copy, but if you have a finished copy, the title is all done in foil so it catches the light nicely. It’s a nice thing to have on the shelf. I think, I think there’s something to be said for a nice fresh hard on the shelf, but obviously those who prefer their books digitally, it is there as well.
Rob Hanna (31:53):
Absolutely. It’s there in all forms all shapes and forms and I must say it is truly fascinating. Some of the stories, what your journey, what you share. So I would strongly urge people if they haven’t definitely go up and pick up a copy. And before we finish up, just want to talk about the importance for legal professionals, embracing platforms, such as LinkedIn, social media in the modern world. How important do you think it is for all lawyers, barristers to do that? And because you’ve managed to amass a really impressive LinkedIn following, you’ve got your own YouTube channel, you’ve even featured on TikTok, how important do you think it is for the modern daily professionals to really embrace social media|?
Chris Daw QC (32:30):
I think it is important. I don’t think it is essential, In the sense that, you know, people can obviously choose to practice or conduct their work life however they like. But for me, because I have such a passion for communicating my own passion both for the law, but also for young people, perhaps those who come from backgrounds that a considered non-traditional to have the confidence and just go for it. Those platforms have given me access, as you say to, even my daughter was responsible, my nine-year-old daughter was responsible for my Tik Tok outing.
Rob Hanna (33:02):
I thought it was very good by the way, Chris, I mean, I could give you some dance lessons myself, but I thought as a first time it wasn’t too bad.
Chris Daw QC (33:05):
Oh good. Okay well it is very kind of you to say She’s got me into that. People can see that on my YouTube channel. And the YouTube channel also has a lot of videos that I did during lockdown in particular. I did a dozen, I did a series of videos during the early part of the lockdown aimed at law students and young lawyers about things like CVs, applying for pupillage and training contracts, applying for jobs and things like networking and social mobility and how to kind of deal with the fact that maybe if you come from certain backgrounds, you don’t have the same networks of contacts, as others do. So there’s loads of stuff on the YouTube channel, my Twitter feed is @crimlawuk. And that’s more for some comment on breaking legal stories and kind of like more general kind of social comment and stuff to do with the book. And as you say, LinkedIn, again, I’ve got a vast following on LinkedIn, which is it’s all come about organically just over time. And I think LinkedIn is good because it gives you this sort of broader platform. I think the audience for LinkedIn is much more about sort of either professional people or people who are looking for career information and engagement. And whereas Twitter, I think is much more about political comment and immediate social comments. So covering all these platforms is really important to me. And I hope people get use out of the YouTube content because it means a lot to me when I get an email from someone like ‘I saw your YouTube video about doing the bar exams’ or whatever it is. And that is what it is all about, that is why I do it all. Of course, it has a benefit, hopefully people find out about other stuff I’m doing, like TV work. You can still watch my TV series, by the way, on BBC One which is called: Crime Are We Tough Enough? That’s still on BBC One on the iPlayer. You know, it gets attention with the stuff that I’m doing. But also I think it does give a lot of comfort, to quite a lot of young people who maybe come from a similar background to me and don’t think they can get into the law and if they do they don’t necessarily think they could have the same chances, and people can follow some of that content. They’ll find out that anyone could do anything. And that’s my belief. I know I’ll try and communicate by every channel.
Rob Hanna (35:09):
What a, what a beautiful way to, to sort of wrap up Chris. I just want to say, thanks an absolute million. It’s been a real pleasure having you on hearing your journey and learning more about the insights and the book. Which definitely people should get, get their copy ASAP. We will obviously make sure we are sharing the links and follow up following the release of the podcast. But we’d just like to wish you lots of continued success with your book and your legal career, but from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast. Thanks a million and over and out.
Chris Daw QC (35:37):
Rob, thank you and have a great afternoon.
Rob Hanna (35:39):