Name: Sean Jones QC
In Hot 100 for: A series of landmark cases in 2018; the Billable Hour Campaign. Read his full Hot 100 entry.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a pupil?
I reached a point where I had had so little sleep I complained to a fellow pupil that his fizzy water was “too loud” and was breaking my concentration. My most vivid memory was working all night on a case and taking occasional breaks to read Joseph O’Neill’s novel about pupillage “This is the Life”. The protagonist bemoans working all night in the very Chambers library I was sat in. He described the view of the darkened Temple from the basement. I stood up to take in that very view.
The novel’s character then pointed out that all the hard work did him no good as he was not taken on. That was a cause of some immediate reflection (and possibly some screaming).
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
I interned with Elizabeth Silverwood-Cope at Ellisons in Colchester. She was astonishing. She had a huge Family Law caseload that she dealt with through hard work and painstaking organisation. It would have broken me instantly, but not only did she represent her clients effectively she did so with genuine compassion for those she helped. She showed me what a lawyer could be.
Although I cannot claim to have got anywhere close to the standard she set, to see someone achieve it and to do so without losing her ability to care for others is still an inspiration.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
Taking a year out before Bar School. It allowed me to try teaching, which I loved but not enough and had the happy side effect that I wound up at the ICSL at the same time as Penny, my wife.
So many of the best things about my life and my career are attributable to her that imagining having gone to Bar School a year earlier and not bumping into her makes me shake.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
First, be really sure it is what you want. A lot of people have a very clear but very inaccurate picture of what being a barrister is like. It turns out to be a bit like taking exams forever. If you are interested in the law, get in contact with a local firm or chambers. When I was a school boy/student, everyone I approached gave me their time. It was only later I realised what a kindness that was, but it is still true today. Immerse yourself a little in the legal world before making a final decision as to your direction.
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
I would love to create and maintain a website that explained discrimination law in terms easy enough for everyone to understand. I’d also like to get Billable Hour to the point at which giving by lawyers to help kids in need became a habit for the professions.