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In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,376 ratings  ·  195 reviews

Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They ar

Kindle Edition, 298 pages
Published June 28th 2018 by Transworld Digital
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Petra X back to reality & the diet!
Explanation for those in a non-British law jurisdiction: A barrister is a specialist in putting the case of the adveraries in court. They are instructed by solicitors, lawyers, and work in Chambers where the clerk books in cases into the diaries of the barristers. Barristers generally don't have any choice of who they would like to represent.

These are the stories of a young woman barrister who represented a wide range of people. The most outstanding cases were the 17 year old - but 18 and an adu
Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

In barrister turned author Sarah Langford’s book, ‘In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law’, we meet eleven clients that Sarah represented (or had legal dealings with) and which their stories had have stayed with her. The cases are varied and whilst some were handled in the family courts, others were serious enough to go before the Crown.

Each chapter is a new case. At the beginning, you are given the clients name, where they were tried and the
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Langford takes us on several journeys though several of her court cases as a barrister. We experience what she is told, and what she wonders about the real truth of the cases she brings to trial. She also tells us about the difficulties that her clients experience in their lives.

"I could not shake off a sense that I had forgotten one of the most important lessons my job had taught me. There was no one truth, there was no one story. Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy
Alice (Married To Books)
I would like to thank the publishers Doubleday Books for sending me a physical ARC of In Your Defence in exchange for an honest review!

This one did take me a while to read but that was basically I found all of the case stories inspired by real-life court cases extremely interesting. The author herself works in law as a defence barrister and In Your Defence chronicles a selection of her most memorable cases from her time in the courtroom. Some of them contained topics that were hard to read about
Canadian Reader
“I had forgotten one of the most important lessons my job had taught me. There was no one truth, there was no one story. Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy lives. To look for the truth in a case was to forget my role. It was my responsibility to guide those who came my way as best I could through the law and its systems, with humanity and empathy. It was my job to give them, as far as I was able, what they wanted. And I must try to do this even when what they wanted was no ...more
K.J. Charles
A junior barrister's account of life at the coalface of the law, working with some pretty disastrous people and a system that is pretty much destroyed by underfunding. (Read The Law is Broken by The Secret Barrister, the state of this is horrifying.)

It's a good, humane, fascinating read, well written and engaging, and just a *tad* liable to make you want to move to a yurt and never speak to another human again because God people are awful.
Rebecca *(book keeper )*
3.5 🌟 stars

Erm for me this was a book of two parts, there was the frustrated author air to this in parts, "the wispy tendrils of the morning fog were ever evident on the cold ground"
But when you get to the meat and two veg of it this is a unique and thought provoking book that does not pull its punches. The family Court chapters are particularly hard if you are a parent.
Worth a read when it comes out on paperback

Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-star
An interesting look at what it means to be a barrister in today’s U.K. legal system. The author covers eleven of her most memorable cases, peppered with her thoughts on the justice system and a little of her life outside of the courtroom.

This was an articulately written account, and posed many thought provoking issues. The author is an English graduate before turning her hand to law, and her love of books, words and language is displayed in her book.

Recommend read for fans of true crime and th
Rob Twinem
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book that is of great interest to me as I work in the law courts. It always strikes me, no matter how simple a case can be, in the final analysis a crime not only has repercussions with the perpetrator and the immediate victim, but can have far reaching consequences to people beyond the crime itself. There is no greater example of this than family cases where often the mother and father have few if any social skills, often they are drug dependant and a relationship that is in essence volatile ...more
Nick Davies
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Struggling a bit with the novel I was reading, I picked this up as a contrast - and enjoyable it was. Barrister Sarah Lanford here writes with intelligence and frankness about the legal process, with an insightful nature and with plenty of interest to say about her career in court. It was good, I enjoyed it, found it quite thought-provoking and it taught me a bit about the day-to-day happenings in the British legal system - from minor divorce disagreements through to serious rapes and attacks. W ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. I’ve always loved anything to do with the law and this makes for interesting reading. Sarah Langford has been involved in a wide range of cases and shares 11 of them in this book, having changed some details to anonymise the people involved. It gives a good look at the workings of both the criminal and family courts and how the smallest details can make all the difference.

It only loses a star because it has notes on the text, but I didn’t realise til the end of the book as it’
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
10 stars! Just so, so ace. Loved it even though I wanted to cry at over half the stories as well as the plea at the end for the justice system to be properly resourced and valued! You couldn't read this book and think otherwise. ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Highly interesting book, walks you through the opaque world of family and criminal court. This book paints a realistic and appreciative view of parts of the UK legal system.

Highly appreciated reading about the chaos of families entering a system designed with lawyers and barristers at the heart, alone and representing themselves.

Legal aid cuts mentioned throughout which is to be expected also like the reference to the ramshackle nature of many of our Magistrates Courts.

Oddly enough I'd even lik
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read and an interesting insight into the judicial system. My only negatives are that I’d have preferred more details about the cases and less about the author. I know there were notes at the end but it would have made more sense to me if these had been with the cases.
I also found some of the language, particularly at the end of chapters, a bit flowery.
If I could give this 3.5 stars I would.
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
An insightful journey through some unique cases that highlight the pitfalls and quirks of the British legal system guided by Sarah Langford’s role as the criminal defence barrister.

Langford is a brilliant author but I wanted to hear more! She briefly touches upon at the end of the book being a woman in a male-dominated profession and the sexism she faced but this felt like an afterthought to an otherwise fascinating book.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read. I love British Law and the workings of it. Interesting cases. Enjoyed feeding the author’s description of the court buildings set the scene perfectly.
Ken Punter
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The antithesis of the simplistic tweet/news headline culture, this is a careful, humane, eloquent, honest and (actually) loving description of the English legal system.

More specifically, "In Your Defence..." is a contemporary account of the work of an ordinary Barrister, plying their trade in the run-of-the-mill magistrate and Crown courts in the south of England, practising in criminal defence and the family courts.

Surprising in its ordinariness, the work described is far from the world of th
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this a bit rambling and somehow none of the stories seemed interesting. It was more a chance for the author to talk about their opinions on the law. A bit easy to make a book out of other peoples problems, I feel.
chloe ♡
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: law-school-prep
4.5 stars
"i was a hired mouthpiece, paid to lend my gifts of education and art to my clients, and to lead them, in all their shades of grey, through the black and white of the law. i was paid to tell their stories for them when they could not do so themselves."
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this down - the book I wanted The Secret Barrister to be. ...more
Steve Vear
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Because of the Covid lockdown and not having to deal with my daily commute to work, it has been a while since I used one of my Audible tokens, but this book did not disappoint from beginning to end.

I am sure it helped that I could relate to some of the terms and situations because of my own knowledge of the court system, but I really did enjoy the way Sarah Langford brings her stories and experience to the page.

This is a book that has not only some educational information along the way, and almo
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If only this had been on the reading list!

This was a great read. I thought the inclusion of the legislation prior to each account really helped me to understand how the charge related to the individuals (alleged) actions in a very clear and practical way. This book would have helped me greatly whilst studying criminal evidence because of how well the author includes details that sometimes you are just expected to know; and she does this in a way that I have not found in any textbook so far, espe
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, just excellent. Beautifully written, poignant and rich.... and most importantly, legally correct. This was most definitely written by someone whose eyes have been in the courtroom and experienced the law with such intimacy and to such an extent that no laypeople (or even solicitors like myself) can ever hope to ever come close.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Steady and thoughtful, no real surprises if you’ve worked alongside the family or criminal courts. As ever, family court cases are always sad and it’s a shame people are perceived as winners or losers. Makes a strong case for the children’s views to be heard and their real needs carefully attended to.
Dhruv Saggar
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
"In Your Defence" is the thoughts of a UK criminal barrister about certain aspects of the criminal justice system.

The first thing that becomes apparent is how Langford's passion is really inspiring. It shows all throughout her writing and it made going through the book a pleasure, because you can visibly feel how much she cares about the cases she participated in.

Some cases covered were more interesting than others, which is to be expected. Still, at the end of every chapter is quality commentar
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It worries me that justice is undermined through lack of resources. It can be easy to be lost in the process of justice and forget that for the people who are subject to it, it can change their lives forever.
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-read
I find law really interesting and I love career stories. I felt engaged the whole way through and some of the stories featured are really surprising. Langford has a great way of guiding the readers through cases clearly as well.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into the life of a barrister.
Lucy Ryall
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely brilliant. I was so impressed and amazed. It showed so many different versions of the law and Justice in such in-depth ways. Loved it and highly recommend.
Sally Hickman
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, probably the quickest I've read a book in a long time.
It highlights many of the issues in our justice system that I wish more people knew about!
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