Joy Adeniran

Joy Adeniran

It is something I will always carry with me, trying to have an empathy towards clients, their respective backgrounds.

Understanding where they’re coming from.

It’s not something they can teach you.

Most inspirational women interviewed are well into their career, looking forward Joy. Law studentand reflecting backwards. Joy is at the beginning of her journey. But already she holds beliefs and values of which she is certain.

Just turned 25, she is a student, working on her Masters, undertaking legal work experience.
She is British born of Nigerian heritage, on both sides.   Her father came to study on a scholarship from the Nigerian Government, in the 80s and after his wife followed, he stayed on.

Perhaps a moment of realization that girls were treated differently, was in P.E.    At school being separated from male peers, only being allowed to take part in certain sports.

“I was not set on a particular career, but there are certain things I was interested in, which led me onto the law path.  At school I remember being involved in the school council at a young age, enjoying trying to represent my peers and other students.

My most memorable event was my time in South Africa,
working at the Women’s Legal Centre with an all female legal team.   I worked at the centre for three months.   There was a “coloured” attorney, a black attorney, and a Muslim lady, who was “Cape Malay”.    The team was very representative of Cape Town, which is such a diverse city, with many different ethnic groups.

It was such an amazing experience. The cases were very different to any cases I‘d experienced in London.   On the majority of mini pupillages I’ve experienced, I‘m likely to be the only black person on the team.  Counsel tend to be predominantly Caucasian, male and Oxbridge educated.

I was studying at City Law School.   The opportunity was advertised to all the students as a whole. It was perfect for me as I wanted to extend my practical experience particularly in the fields of human rights and public law.   I applied, submitted an essay, was interviewed by a panel and 2 young ladies were selected.

Joy law student at LSE

Joy studying for masters at LSE

Working in South Africa with such a diverse team I was aware that it definitely affected their perspective and their interaction with clients, which in turn made the clients more confident with them.
There was a case I worked on with the Cape Malay attorney, a case which was completely outside anything I’d ever experienced. It centered on polygamous marriage and the recognition of a subsequent marriage by the state.

Because the Attorney was from a Muslim background, and the  clients she was representing had a similar religious background it was really interesting for me to see.   To take away how to interact with my clients.  A great opportunity for me to learn about using my own experiences when working with clients.

There is another incident which is particular vivid to me. There’s a town ship, called Khayelitsha in Cape Town.   The centre was assisting an investigation into police malpractice in the township.   Due to what appeared to be political reasons, the Minister of Police  filed an application in the  High Court  for an interdict to suspend the inquiry.  The Women’s Legal Team worked with others NGOs to ensure the inquiry proceeded.

Standing outside the High Court with 300 people, protesting, chanting, singing, demanding that their voices be heard.    It was a phenomenal experience.

The police were just keeping order, making sure things didn’t get out of hand, the crowd were very respectful.    They wanted their presence to be felt.    They hoped to increase pressure through the press.

The case went to the Constitutional Court which held unanimously that the Premier’s decision to establish the commission was constitutional, so it eventually went ahead.

It was just so good to go to an office, working with people so committed to a cause.  It didn’t feel like there was an hierarchy, of course there was.   The Attorneys have so much more experience than the interns, but I always felt I could go to any of them, and have a conversation and discuss freely anything I was working on.

The Attorneys liaised well with their clients, by recognizing their clients perspective and backgrounds.
That is something that I shall always carry with me, having that empathy with the client, considering their unique perspectives and trying to understand where they are coming from. It’s not something they can teach you.

Naturally as a young black woman I’ve had experiences of discrimination.
I’ve had experiences with friends, which have made me realize that rights are important. Sometimes you can’t really explain it.  Something happens. You know it’s because you’re a black woman, and if you try to explain it to someone else, they might not understand.

As a feminist, I think my black identity probably overtakes my identity as a female.

If there was one thing I would desire, it would be Equality for all.
Man, woman, gay, straight, black, white.  I think its all about representation, and making sure that  everyone is represented.  I welcome Cameron’s new cabinet, with hope that women’s issues will now get more attention.



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