From a Dalston supermarket to Doughty Street Chambers
Doughty Street Chambers barrister Tunde Okewale has shed some new light on his rags to riches story, revealing he secured a mini-pupillage with his colleague’s dad while working at a Sainsbury’s in Dalston.
The 32-year-old criminal barrister (pictured below), who shares an office with none other than Amal Clooney, is very candid about his modest upbringing and the graft it took to get to the top.
Hailing from a council estate in Hackney, Okewale went on to study law at London Metropolitan University.
While there, he was still committed to a number of part-time jobs. Though his grades ultimately took a dip because of this — he graduated with a 2:2 degree — he used this retail experience to his advantage.
Speaking to Hackney Citizen, he explained:
I was working in Sainsbury’s in Dalston and decided I was going to ask every individual that I came across — whether it be a fellow employee or customer — if they knew anyone that could give me work experience.
It’s a tactic that could have backfired, but not for Okewale. The Nigerian-born lawyer continued:
Fortunately, there was a colleague in the meat and fish department who had a friend whose dad was a barrister… [H]e explained to me what the profession entailed, told me about the obstacles that he’d encountered, and he introduced me to his friends who gave me more work experience. The experience with him pretty much became the foundation for all the things that I went on to do.
His story is proof you can find the next rung in your career ladder in the most unlikely of places, and he wants to inspire students from underrepresented backgrounds with his story. His advice to aspiring lawyers is this:
You can do it.