A new LexisNexis series, A Day in the Life meets some of the most interesting characters in the legal industry and asks them to share their professional successes, day to day work and most memorable career moment. This week we get to grips with a financial crime QC, who tells us what it’s really like to be a Queen's Counsel advocate…
Amanda Pinto QC is a barrister at 33 Chancery Lane. An expert in international financial wrongdoing, Amanda specialises in some of the most high-profile cases within the field. Described by the Legal 500 as: "Immediately liked and respected by clients as a real heavyweight" Amanda is among the biggest names currently practicing at the bar. In her spare time, Amanda is an advocate for the First 100 Years project and is a champion for diversity and inclusion. In this article, we catch up with Amanda to discuss her average work day, her professional journey and ask her to share some advice for graduates just entering the profession.
My alarm goes off and… regrettably, I always check my phone to see how many emails I have and if any are urgent.
How I got my job? I started in a common law commercial set which gave me a good general grounding in several practice areas. I did my third six months pupillage at 5 Paper Buildings, a criminal set, where I loved the advocacy, the fact that I could help people in very difficult circumstances to get their case across, the daily diet of varied cases in the magistrates’ court lists and Crown Court appearances and the great characters and amusing stories told in chambers when I returned. I was one of two female pupils and, despite being the first tenancy applicants to have a democratic Chambers vote (and not the blackball system), we nearly didn’t get taken on after the vote was overturned the following day by senior members of the all-male set protesting. Luckily our respective pupil-masters and others reversed that second decision.
My most memorable career moment? Apart from the roller coaster of getting tenancy, professionally, I have had the good fortune to be in many interesting cases. The most memorable moment outside the courtroom was learning that my application for silk had been successful, sitting on a box in the photocopying room of Southwark Crown Court, with a jury out in one case and preparing for the next. It was a perfect mixture of the excitement of becoming a QC, with the grounding reminder that our not-so- glamorous daily work is what it is all about. Many memorable moments happened when making mistakes from which I learnt the hard way!
As a woman in law, I… thoroughly enjoy my work despite it being hard to fit in with having a family. Professionally, I have often found that people underestimate you. I am encouraged that many discriminatory practices are diminishing but we still need to keep everyone focused on driving forward changes to help women flourish and stay in practice. The Bar Council supports women with initiatives such as persuading the government against introducing the so-called Flexible Operating Hours in criminal courts which would have made it impossible to organise caring responsibilities for barristers and diversity training for Chambers, but there is still much to do to stop the significant problem of retaining excellent women, particularly the self-employed at the publicly funded Bar. In my experience, it is harder for a woman to progress as fast as a man. I hope the fact that I am the fourth female Vice-Chair of the Bar (and the 3rd in 8 years) will serve as a sign that, although women (particularly with a family) may face significant difficulties, we can thrive and get to the top of the profession. Supportive practice managers, clerks, colleagues at work and family and friends at home are crucial. Actively value those who allow you to progress your career by supporting you at home!
My typical day? The joy of the criminal Bar is there isn’t one.
What advice would you give to someone beginning their career as an advocate? Do not be too wedded to a single career path. Thinking you only want to do one area of law may hem you in too much. I never intended to do crime, but I loved the daily advocacy and the human element together with the immediacy of arguing the right application of the law as matters arose in the trial or other hearings. I would not swap that for the areas of the law I thought would interest me before I started.