Name: Kathryn Garbett
Firm: Mishcon de Reya
Trained at: Birkbeck Montagu
Year qualified: 1988
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
My best and most vivid memory from my days as an articled clerk is the daily Queens Bench Masters hearings in the Bear Garden, which I regularly encountered during my litigation seat. The Bear Garden in the High Court had a daily buzz of advocates at all levels (including articled clerks) attending short interlocutory hearings in the Masters’ rooms.
I loved the cut and thrust of pitching my wits against my opponent when navigating facts and procedure in these short hearings and just as much, if not more, I enjoyed sitting at the back of the Master’s room awaiting my turn; watching and learning how to avoid the pitfalls of the some of the inexperienced advocates who were being chewed up and spat out by some of the more unforgiving Masters. It was a sink or swim environment but it taught me a lot and was certainly a major inspiration in my decision to become a litigator.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)? #
“You can take the woman out of Yorkshire … but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the woman” – I don’t know who said it first but it’s something that is repeated often (particularly in my presence) and makes me very proud.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
My late father – despite being a Yorkshire miner born and brought up in a working class world with traditional concepts of the roles for men and women, he broke the mould by encouraging and often fighting for his daughter to have an education (in an environment where the quality of it was often poor). He constantly told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. He never wavered in his belief in me and his support of me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Two pieces of advice which I often give are
1. Your own skin will always fit you best so make yourself comfortable in it; and
2. Always make five minutes for the enquiry that you don’t have time for: it could turn into your biggest case.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
My best friend from law school, Jayne Jeffcott, is now the National Director of Programmes and Student Affairs at the University of Law, she also performs an excellent role as Godmother to my eldest child.