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Insights - 13/12/2021

Shakira Maynard-Johnson interviews Lady Black

Shakira Maynard-Johnson, solicitor in the Family team at Morrisons Solicitors, is a founding board member of Women in Family Law (WiFL). Last week, as part of her role with WiFL, Shakira had the privilege of personally meeting and interviewing Lady Black, a prestigious figure in family law. Lady Black was the second female Judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court before retiring from her role in January 2021.

Here, Shakira talks about her experience of meeting Lady Black:

Lady Black prefers to keep out of the limelight, so it is no surprise that we at WiFL were honoured when she accepted our invitation to be interviewed for the launch of our “Inspirational Women” series.  As a junior lawyer, I was excited by the fact that alongside my fellow board members, Claudia Gilham and Hannah Markham QC, I would be the one to interview her live on Zoom, especially as I was just getting over meeting Baroness Hale at WiFL’s official launch in March 2020!

To me, the definition of an inspirational person is someone who works hard and overcomes barriers and obstacles (in any aspect of life) yet remains humble and grounded. During the interview Lady Black exemplified just that. We talked about a range of things, from her almost “accidental” career into law, to the things we can do to protect our wellbeing in what can, at times, be a challenging and stressful career.

Not only was the interview with Lady Black an opportunity to learn more about her, it also provided an opportunity for reflection. It was comforting to learn that despite her status, Lady Black, like most of us, has also experienced worry and self-doubt at various points in her career and she has even been visited by the dreaded imposter syndrome. She reminded us of what we often forget: that it is okay to make mistakes so long as we learn from them, greatness is not born overnight and as long as we are willing to work hard and to be honest with ourselves, then we all have what it takes to be an inspiration.

Our conversation wasn’t solely focused on law; Lady Black is a woman I admire for her want of privacy; however, I was keen to learn even the slightest fact about her life outside of the profession.

Prior to the interview, I spoke with her about her love for her home in Yorkshire and she laughed when I informed her that my only connection to Yorkshire was through my love of Emmerdale! In turn she shared her own guilty pleasure….TV binge watching (when she has the time)! She also openly talked about her passion for music and the items that she would take with her if she were to be stranded on a desert island.

It is needless to say that my interview with Lady Black was a monumental moment in my career.  Not only did she remind me of how much I have already achieved, but she also provided additional motivation to keep going!”


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