I write provocative and thoughtful prose, addressing profound issues with an authentic voice.

Women lawyers – juggling roles

Posted on February 7th, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments

A Google search for statistics on women solicitors will tell you that over half of new lawyers are women but far fewer than this number are reaching the top of the profession. The reasons for this may be several but at least one is glaringly obvious. Those of us who have worked hard to qualify and then try to practise while looking after a family know all too well that juggling a legal career and caring responsibilities is hard.

My own story is characterised by what you might call extreme juggling. Soon after qualifying into criminal practice I was made redundant. I was the lone parent of a little boy who found school challenging and it wasn’t long before I was faced with an enormous decision. I took my teenage son out of school to home educate him, working as hard as I could to make ends meet by freelancing. Somehow, with family support and willpower, we managed. But as my son needed me less, my disabled mother needed me more. I swapped one caring role for another and the juggling became, if anything, more difficult.

Things are slightly different now, with my son at College and my mother needing professional … Read More »

Voice – in verse

Posted on February 1st, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments


If I speak
And you turn away
Turn a deaf ear
Turn down the mic
Then I have no voice.

If, when I try to speak
For reasons you may not even understand
You say ‘shhh’
Then I have no voice.

If, while silent, I hear you say
That I have no voice
And believing you
I stay silent
Then I have no voice.

© Harriet Balcombe 25th Jan 2017

Being heard: on having a voice

Posted on January 31st, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments

We all have the potential to be heard. Our life circumstances can influence how likely we are to be able to fulfill this potential, however. These circumstances can include our gender, geographical location, skin colour, religion and sexual orientation. We may find ourselves unable to speak up because of fear, feeling inadequate or even because we are prevented from using our voice by those in authority.

This matters at every level. In abusive situations, subjects are often told, out loud or implicitly, to keep secrets or keep up false appearances, The importance of being able to speak out starts at home. Our life may depend upon it. If we have a problem or crisis, we may need to turn to someone whose job it is to speak out for others. A public official, a lawyer or perhaps someone in the media. These are people with the power and ability to make a point, argument or request on our behalf when we are not able to do it for ourselves.

In the past we have seen, often in countries that might seem far away, nothing to do with us, some of these ‘professional voices’ being attacked by the State. Xia Lin, a lawyer … Read More »