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Zoe Tranter

Zoe Tranter, a solicitor who has over twenty years plus industry knowledge and experience, is the founding Director of the Company.

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Book Review: Nothing but the truth. Stories of Crime, Guilt, and the Loss of Innocence by The Secret Barrister

Zoe Tranter likes to keep herself busy. As a Solicitor, and Managing Director of the firm, she manages a tight schedule from her offices at Cornwall Buildings, Birmingham. When she’s away from her busy desk at Tranter Mills headquarters she can be found hiking, baking, gardening in her Shropshire home or attending the World Rally Championships as an avid spectator. In between times, Zoe loves to find time to read (mainly political history, biographies, social/economic commentaries, and general non-fiction works). Recently, Zoe picked up a copy of “Nothing but the truth. Stories of Crime, Guilt, and the Loss of Innocence”, by The Secret Barrister which she reviewed for a legal publication.

Here’s Zoe’s verdict:

“I have already read “The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken”, and “Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies”, so I was very much looking forward to reading this book.

I have to say, I was not disappointed. We pick up from the author’s previous books and where they left off, but this time we are taken on a journey of the experience of the author, and their entry into the profession.

What follows is an acutely familiar tail of an individual seeking to become a Barrister from a non-traditional background. We learn more about our author, via their experiences both up to and during the application process, to their eventual pupillage, in what is alluded to as one of the more progressive Chambers.

There are cringe worthy moments, and moments of sheer hilarity. I found myself thinking “thank goodness it’s not just me”, with the various cock-ups that they make during the application process both at interviews, mixers and mini-pupillages. What is clear is there are those for whom the process is normal, they come from backgrounds where they consider themselves as equals, or already have relatives in the profession, and then there are those who do not (the author). Competition for a pupillage is fierce, and nepotism is rife.

When the author does secure that elusive, precious pupillage, you feel happy for them that lady justice finally gave them a break.

From a pupil master (sorry, “pupil supervisor”) who has a healthy dose of cynicism and indifference, to the clerks to whom you cannot say no, you get a sense of what life is like both as a pupil, and a junior barrister in a criminal Chambers.

There are many hilarious stories from which I could quote, but suffice to say, highlights included the case regarding the elderly gentleman with the prosthetic limb and the lady of the night, the case with the roast chicken, and the case with the hard of hearing Judge (“Very Good. Hobble Wobble”).

These anecdotes are peppered with a more serious side, namely a description of life at the sharp end of the criminal justice system. In the book, there is clear disdain for Magistrates, and from the cases referred to and their decisions, that is not surprising. What is clear, is that the Magistrates are in disarray, the process seeming like that of a cattle market, where there is no time for preparation, and the Crown Court seems to operate more like a conveyor belt, or even a lottery, where your ticket may or may not come up for trial that day. You are left feeling as though the administration of justice is not really working and that there is a sense of “wading through treacle” or “hearding cats”.

There are then the moral dilemmas a Barrister must face. The successful application and release of a criminal who then goes on to commit murder. You read about how they feel afterwards, upon becoming aware of what has happened, and how they respond. You are left questioning, how would you deal with that? The message is clear, the justice system is broken. By the end of the book, after having read a letter from the author, to their younger, more idealistic self, you realise just how broken it is, and pray that you never have a reason to rely upon that system.

An insightful, poignant book that sheds light on life at the criminal bar, yielding a great deal of sympathy for the barristers who are striking at the time of writing. Well worth a read.”

“Nothing but the truth. Stories of Crime, Guilt, and the Loss of Innocence”, by The Secret Barrister is available from all good book stores including Amazon and Waterstones.