A successful criminal lawyer has gone back to her roots to tell today’s students about her court room experiences.
Sally Weddell graduated from Edge Hill University in 1986 with a degree in English, but firstly pursued a career in fashion. For a pink-haired undergraduate with a wacky taste in clothes, it seemed like the perfect role. But eventually she discovered the University’s careers advisors had been right when they suggested she become a barrister or take a job with Customs and Excise. She retrained as a lawyer and, after becoming a criminal lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), she has never looked back.
During her lecture, Sally gave students an insight into court room life – telling how judges often warn jurors that it’s not like they will have seen on the Judge John Deed television show. She also talked about how 95% of criminal cases are dealt with in the UK’s magistrates’ courts, but that the public rarely sees this as more publicity is given to the more newsworthy Crown court cases. Finally, she gave a good overview of the importance of the CPS and the career progression it offered.
Speaking before her lecture, Sally said: ”I’m still driven by fairness and the desire to see justice done. People perceive the prosecution as the bad guys but I see the CPS as the voice for victims. I think people are surprised when they meet me that I’m not some faceless bureaucrat, I’m an ordinary human being and I’m on their side.”
Sally also received a tour of campus. She recalled how the main entrance was nicknamed the ‘cave’, and that The Smiths once played on campus. She also remembered ‘decs’ nights when the second and third years would stay up all night and decorate the halls before the first years woke up. One of her biggest surprises was the improved bus links – when she was studying at Edge Hill, many students lived in Southport and would hitchhike to campus and back.
Franco Rizzuto, Head of Law, said: “Sally’s lecture was very informative for our students. It provided them with an opportunity to have a valuable insight into the real world application of the criminal law when seeking a conviction and working for the CPS.
“We hope our relationship with Sally will be an excellent link for the Department which may be of help for both staff and students.”
Caroline Mitchell, University Affinity Officer, said: “We are always really pleased to see how successful our alumni have become, but also how they are willing to keep in touch with us and to develop lasting links with the University.
“Sally has agreed to mentor students here at Edge Hill, which will be really valuable experience for them. We are always interested in hearing from other alumni who can do the same.”
If you can help with future mentoring initiatives, call Caroline on +44(0)1695 584861.