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The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  10,450 ratings  ·  984 reviews

Winner of the Books are My Bag Non-Fiction Award
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year
Shortlisted for Specsavers Non-Fiction Book of the Year

'Eye-opening, damning and hilarious' Tim Shipman, author of All Out War and Fall Out

“I’m a barrister, a job which requires the skills of a social worker, relationsh

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by Picador
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Rich Lambe It isn't...?

Within law, specifically criminal law, if a case is tried before a Jury then the prosecution (accusing side) must convince a jury 'beyond …more
It isn't...?

Within law, specifically criminal law, if a case is tried before a Jury then the prosecution (accusing side) must convince a jury 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the accused did it.
As it is impossible in a lot of cases for a crime to be proven beyond any doubt, this has become the accepted standard.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,450 ratings  ·  984 reviews

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Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Petra-masx by: purita
The British have never recovered from being the foremost empire in the world, the most innovative of societies, the leaders of intellectual thought, the most just and fair. Because now, it's anything but.

The Secret Barrister is polemic against the system of government that pays lip service to victims of crime or had their civil rights infringed upon, but no money to defend them or put right the wrongs inflicted on them. Every government cuts the money paid to solicitors (office) and barristers (
Simon Bradshaw
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I often recommend books. I sometimes say that a book is a 'must-read'. But there are few books that make me want to go up to everyone I know and tell them that I actually, really mean that they *must* read it, in the sense that it is genuinely important that they take in what the author says.

This is such a book.

If you have any interest in the English criminal justice system - and if you live in England and Wales, you should - then this book will be eye-opening, shocking and thought-provoking. A
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
As a call for awareness, this is loud enough to be heard, but it also reminds us that outside the extraordinary cases, so much of the nitty gritty of law can be unimaginably dull.

That we have a crisis of funding in the law should surprise nobody, but perhaps the law suffers for attention in comparison to the NHS because we're more likely to have personal experiences of one than the other. Apart from cases sexy enough for media attention, the day to day running of the law might as well be in the
Karen Ross
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fails to live up to the hype. Too much history. Insufficiently anecdotal. The sexy title (and implicit cashing in on the Secret Footballer franchise) promised a different kind of book and the 'populist' marketing leads to disappointment.

Written like a barrister writes . . . and i don't mean that in a good way
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just prior to the 1983 General Election, then Labour Leader Neil Kinnock, delivered what must rank as one of the most poignant speeches ever made in British politics. In what might be called his “warning speech”, he warned of what would happen should Margaret Thatcher win. To paraphrase, he warned people not to get old, not to be young, not to get sick, not to do myriad other things – for the state wouldn’t be there to help them, nay, would actively do them harm.

Fast forward thirty-five years to
Sophie Castledine-Dack
I had started to get worried that this book would never end, and it was only through stubborn principle that I never dnf books that I completed it at all.

I had very high hopes for it - I thought it would be the legal equivalent of 'This is going to hurt' which I found insightful, engaging and interesting. Unfortunately, TSB was none of these things to me, and I recognise that, in making this statement, I exemplify the author's hypothesis that citizen apathy towards the failings of the justice sy
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Feel like this book wanted to be the This is Going to Hurt for the law but wasn’t quite engaging or funny enough- was interesting but often over complicated and the explanations were sometimes convoluted.
Stephen Bentley
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is the most over-hyped book ever. I looked forward to reading it but was initially put off by the original high price of the Kindle version. The price dropped to just over £4. I wish I hadn't bothered.

The author, whoever he or she may be, makes some excellent points about the state of the criminal justice system (CJS) in England and Wales. But, my goodness, what a tortuous way to make his case. Clearly, he has not fully absorbed one of the greatest lessons of advocacy: make your point and q
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Briefly - Slightly mixed feelings on this one. Looking at the subtitle there really aren't many "stories of the law" and it majors on how the law is broken. Dry in places, fascinating in others.

In full
This book opens with some outline information about the author, the book and the criminal justice system. Written by an anonymous barrister it considers of the subject of justice over time and across countries. It also looks at the general strengths and weaknesses of the English justice system and
Helen Cooley
Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Like reading a text book. And not on a subject I was interested in. Not at all like 'This Is Going To Hurt' despite comparisons, this is not funny. I'm clearly not the target audience and don't want to spend another 300ish pages getting outraged and anxious about the poor state of the British legal system since I can do exactly nothing to improve it. So I have let myself off and moved on to hopefully a more enjoyable read.
Read: May 2019

In terms of the content of this book, I should really give it five stars. The Secret Barrister exposes the many flaws and weaknesses in our justice system from an insider's invaluable perspective.
The trouble is that our system is so clearly broken that the book becomes hard to read. I finished it feeling much more depressed and vulnerable than when I first picked it up. The story of the junior doctor wrongly jailed for an attack that overwhelming evidence proved he didn't actually
Alice (MTB/Alice Tied The Bookish Knot)
I’m in the minority here amongst the GR readers for The Secret Barrister. DNF after 196 pages. It was very slow with far too much backstory to digest.
Ali Joyce
May 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was a real struggle to finish. I had hoped that it would be a fun read with some interesting cases and anecdotes. No. I found the writing style pompous in places, and some passages were rather lazy in setting out the law (I know that was needed but in a number of places the text was lifted entirely from legislation or text books). I echo comments made by another reader that the only defendant who was positively portrayed was a fictional, middle-class junior doctor - that was a real shame. H ...more
Sid Nuncius
This is excellent. It's very readable and often witty in style, but its message is stark and worrying: we have a serious problem in the criminal justice system which is getting worse.

Written by an (understandably) anonymous barrister, The Secret Barrister is an account from the inside of the realities of the English and Welsh legal system. It is interesting and very clear about how we came to have the current system, its undoubted strengths, its true aims and the terrible mess which so often pre
Matthew Hickey
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is an important topic for public education and discussion.

I accept (by reason of my profession) I’m perhaps not the target reader, so my opinion should be weighed in that way, but I found the substance of the book occasionally discursive and unnecessarily prolonged. However, those same aspects may well be what makes this book appealing to a reader who is entirely unfamiliar with the book’s subjects.
ashley c
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Secret Barrister shares their experience as a young but already jaded lawyer working in the criminal justice system in England. They detail several aspects of the system and why, from an insider's point of view, it was failing horribly.

While I agree the book could be possibly cut by a third if we removed all the author's ramblings, I found it interesting for the most part to understand the thought process as the author goes about their work. The author has a tendency to run long sentences wi
I want to read this book again!
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The Secret Barrister writes under this pseudonym in order to speak frankly -- and in this book they let loose on the state of the legal system in Britain. The poor management of CPS, the decimation of legal aid, the Innocence Tax, and all the ways that the government (not just the Tories, but perhaps mostly) have messed up our adversarial system, prioritising statistics over justice... while arguably failing to properly prosecute many cases as paperwork slips and overworked CPS employees fail to ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book however i did find myself scan reading parts of it due to certain sections being a bit too informative or complex for someone who doesn’t study or have a huge interest in law. It was interesting and it did have the odd comical part but it was much more formal and serious than I had expected. I love medical memoirs and thought it would be similar but law related however this wasn’t the case. Maybe it’s because I work in the NHS however I do believe you can read and thoroughl ...more
Cliff Moyce
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Boring... boring... boring. Good subject, good idea, deadly dull writing style. Should never have been written. I guess there will be a spate of these sorts of books since the huge (and much deserved) success of ‘This is going to hurt’ by Adam Kay. Adam Kay can write (and talk), this guy can’t. The author is wise to keep his identity a secret. Not because he will upset people with his anecdotes but because he won’t.
K.J. Charles
This is terrifying and everyone in Britain needs to read it. An appalling, nightmarish indictment as to the state of the law now, the terrible flaws in the justice system, and the damage done by government cuts. The author makes it very clear this is not somebody else's problem, with case studies that made me feel slightly sick. A hugely important book about a problem that's been inexplicably ignored for so long that we now have an injustice of gigantic scale on our hands. Again: if you're Briti ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Well written but not what I was looking for in a holiday read. It felt like wading through a lengthy legal dissertation at points.
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good I've accidentally recommended it to my housemate 4 times (after the 4th time he told me to stop and that, yes, he would read it).

Seriously, if you live in the UK you should read this. You never know when you might end up in the middle of it.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: three-star
A detailed look at British law and how the system is fundamentally flawed, despite its good intentions to provide justice for the innocent. I felt this book was more textbook style than anything else; there aren’t many stories about weird and wonderful cases that the author has been a part of. Almost every page features numbers and statistics, and while that can be useful, should not make up the bulk of the writing.

Law can be a dry subject, as the author acknowledges here. I wouldn’t describe th
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was torn on what rating to give this book. The subject matter - the horror of what's happening to the UK's legal system - is unquestionably of the highest importance and is set out well.

So surely 5 stars? Well, yes, but unfortunately the writing is way too dense and could have done with a good edit.

There's an enormous irony in the author bemoaning judges who can't get over their words in comprehensible English, when you examine the overly-wordy prose of this book.

Granted, the legal system and
Holly Law
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely captivating, and frightening, book this is. The author has produced an accessibly informative explanation of the state of our criminal justice system. His writing style is frank and often funny, making what could be viewed as a fairly dry subject anything but.

You, like I, might subconsciously think the criminal justice system is not really anything to concern 'people like us'. You won't feel that way after you've read this book.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Started off great. Lost the will to live about half way through. Stick to the legal profession. Writing is not for you.
Natalie Liddle
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstandingly good book.

I will review this properly when I find the words. Thought provoking indeed.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Full disclosure before I start this review: I’m a lawyer myself and this is in many ways a book for lawyers.

The subject matter is on its face fairly niche - an anonymous barrister exposing the current rickety state of our criminal justice system - and for all the author’s attempts to use plain English, the book is inevitably written in a fairly lawyerly style with a lot of legal terminology thrown in.

However, I defy anyone, lawyer or not, to read this and not come away with their eyes firmly ope
Fefyy Antela
I LOVE books about law practice [mostly because they make me realize those 5 years in law school were not a complete waste of time].

I strongly believe that understanding how the law works gives us citizens a wider and better understanding of the world we live in.

This books touches on a lot of the things that we used to discuss in class in a very dynamic way. So overall I think it would be a very interesting read if you want to learn a bit more about how the justice system works and how not ever
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The author, writing under the pseudonym of The Secret Barrister, is a junior barrister practising criminal law before the courts of England and Wales. The Secret Barrister is also a blogger who in 2016 and 2017 was named Independent Blogger of the Year at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards. As of the book's publication date in March 2018 the author had a substantial following on Twitter of ...more

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