Simpson Millar paralegal with endometriosis asks public to help fund her Oxford BCL course so she can become a barrister

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‘There are not many people who make it to the bar as a disabled person’

Katy Sheridan

A paralegal at Simpson Millar’s London office who wants to become a barrister is asking the public to help fund her Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) course at the University of Oxford.

Katy Sheridan, who already has a first-class undergraduate law degree from the elite university, told Legal Cheek the masters will “improve” her chances of securing pupillage in the “extremely competitive” world of public law. She said:

I can’t stress to you how competitive public law is. Having a brilliant degree is a baseline, then you have to take masters courses and get more experience in order to differentiate yourself.

And why should you back Sheridan and her barrister dreams? Three reasons, she says: her motivation, her academic record, and because there are not many disabled women in the profession. On the latter, she explained:

In 2016 I was diagnosed with endometriosis which is a chronic gynaecological condition. The long and short of it is that this condition, as well as perhaps impacting on my ability to have children in the future, means that I often experience chronic pain and fatigue, and get more easily exhausted than others around me. As is true with a lot of women with endometriosis, I also have a mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, which exacerbates a lot of my symptoms.

While the 22-year-old told Legal Cheek her condition makes pursuing her barrister dreams harder, “you could easily say it’s a condition that could stop me getting a first-class Oxford law degree, but I still did it.” Sheridan — who has completed a vacation scheme at Hogan Lovells and acted as a legal adviser at Brixton Advice Centre — said:

There are not many people who make it to the bar as a disabled person, and I implore you to support me in my efforts to do so.

The BCL costs nearly £20,000 and there are of course living expenses, but Sheridan’s not looking to crowdfund the whole whack. She’ll be applying for a government loan, has about £8,000 and counting in savings, and says her parents will help her out a bit. Taking all this into account, the aspiring barrister is hoping to raise £4,350 via her GoFundMe page.

Why not defer her place and stick it out at Simpson Millar for a few more months? Sheridan told us there’s “no guarantee” she’d be accepted for the BCL next year, plus her retired parents will be moving away soon meaning she’d have to start paying London rent.

Two days after setting up the profile and thanks to 50-odd donors, she’s received over £1,000. Sheridan — who attended a fee paying school on a scholarship — is using #BacktheBCL to help promote her campaign.

Though it’s still unusual for aspiring solicitors and barristers to resort to GoFundMe pages to pay for their education, Sheridan is certainly not the first person to do so.

Just weeks ago we brought you the story of Leila Taleb, a bar hopeful from Bradford who claims to have raised all of her Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) funds and more thanks largely to a £12,500 pledge from a “mystery person”. Below you can watch Legal Cheek journalists discuss whether crowdfunding law school fees is the way forward.

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Don’t ask don’t get – best of luck Katy



We don’t need more disabled women at the Bar. Rather, we need less barriers to the profession. As this article inadvertently highlights, the main barrier to the Bar isn’t gender- or disability-based. Rather, it’s financial.

When a privately educated woman with free rent, £8,000 of savings and the prospect of substantial help from her parents is facing a financial barrier, consider the plight of a poor student.

With respect, her gender and endometriosis have very little to do with anything. The former is completely irrelevant and, at best, the latter merely shows courage, determination and grit or her part to get good grades in the face of difficulty.

One day the Bar will wake up and realise that things like gender- and race-based discrimination at the Bar are a myth; the true problem is the gross entry fee.

As to Katy, best of luck. I hope you make it.



“One day the Bar will wake up and realise that things like gender- and race-based discrimination at the Bar are a myth; the true problem is the gross entry fee.”

Ignorant tosh.

Reminds me of that good old saying: “Privilege is when you think that something is not a problem because it’s not a problem for you.”

The fact is that the legal profession is overwhelmingly disablist.

I know a profoundly Deaf sign language user who is, inter alia, a qualified solicitor and he was completely ignored at a law fair by his hearing peers. That aligns with my own experience.

Quotas. Positive discrimination. Urgently needed.



I bet you’re fun at parties.



I bet Tim is “profoundly” and quite likely “overwhelmingly” advantaged in ways that he doesn’t acknowledge.

“Tosh” – “overwhelmingly” – “profoundly” – the diction says it all. No need to comment further on the kind of privilege that Tim enjoys.

P.S. no capitals in “deaf” – it’s a normal adjective.



Stop discriminating against me. Being sanctimonious is a serious condition and you are victimising me because of it.



Yeah, I do empathy in spite of good fortune, ta for the compliment.



So true.

Posh rich girl with QC daddy (could be disabled/lesbian/transgender the whole caboodle) vs northern England white working class boy with no connections – I think we all know that the former candidate would have FAR better odds.



She seems like a hugely deserving individual who has clearly worked hard to make up as much of the money for the course as she can. I hope she can make up the shortfall!



Best of luck to her! Though I think her CV is probably strong enough to secure pupillage as it stands



Best of luck!!



I actually went to the same college as Katy (New) and was fortunate to get a first in Jurisprudence as well. I don’t agree that you have to do the BCL to get a good pupillage – in my experience, pupillage committee members are very aware that not everyone who gets on the the BCL can afford to do it. I wish her all the best though – very nice and very bright girl!



Hey Phil 🙂 sure helps though, what with the legal teaching one receives?



This isn’t me


Another Phil

Nor me



Nor me


Phil M'Pance

Nor I


Felipe Felipo.

I’m nacho man either.



Tom looks like he’s about to slap Katie in that video thumbnail.



Since when is endometriosis a disability? (Coming from another law student with endometriosis)



She suffers with “mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, which exacerbates a lot of my symptoms”, I think that’s the disability she refers to.



I don’t know a single person in the profession who doesn’t suffer from some form of depression and anxiety.



See my reply below.



Since C-335/11 and C-337/11 Ring and Skouboe Werge adopted the definition of disability in the UNCRPD xxx



Endometriosis occurs in varying levels of intensity. So while it may only affect some sufferers moderately, others are susceptible to crippling pain. A pain you might say disables them from living their lives like someone unaffected by the condition. Approximately 10% of the female population are affected by it, but it is often just dismissed as ‘women’s problems’. Unfortunately this attitude has filtered down and the condition remains undiagnosed in a lot of sufferers. For this young woman to inform people about it and raise awareness of it is a noble thing and the sooner it is properly recognised as a disability, the sooner people can start understanding and accommodating people who suffer from it. (Coming from a law student whose partner is affected by the condition).


Jones Day Junior Associate

Good on her, I am sure she will be very successful.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


Jones Day Partner

That is a needlessly a-sensual email. You should be running these things past me. Let’s have a seat review. On my lap.



I tried to find fault with this but came up blank. Wish her all the best.



Hmm, I wish her luck, but virtually nobody can afford their masters courses/living costs – I don’t see how her medical issues have anything to do with it.

Also with respect she has no idea how many disabled women are in the profession. I personally count as legally disabled due to chronic anxiety/depression as do other colleagues (we don’t shout about it because unfortunately it would affect clerks’, colleagues’ and clients’ perceptions of us). Endometriosis is fairly common also and one colleague I know has both endometriosis and anxiety/depression like this student. Although disabled in strict legal terms, she certainly wouldn’t label herself disabled for general purposes or seek special advantages.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it would never have occurred to me that I deserve funding more than others because I have a fairly common condition that doesn’t significantly impair me (as clearly she is not significantly impaired with her first class degree – contrast, say, a friend of mine who had muscular dystrophy for the course of his studies). I personally would feel uncomfortable playing the disability card in her circumstances. “I have a first class degree and it hasn’t always been easy…” would be fair but “The profession needs more disabled women”… no.



She does have an idea of how many women declare a disability in the profession – this information is collected.

Frankly I think the fact that there are still men (yes, I’m willing to bet you’re a man, Anonymous) who are quick to tell her she shouldn’t play ‘the disability card’ despite meeting the legal definition of a disability is EXACTLY why she and women like her deserve to succeed.


Someone genuinely with a chronic condition who wants to play the disabled card

Does my chronic condition make me disabled? Can I play the disability card?


Original Anonymous

You’re wrong Deleted, I’m a woman – I should have stated that expressly, but that was the fundamental point I was looking to make – that I, as a legally disabled woman with similar issues to her, would not have done this and feel uncomfortable with it. As I said, I do not declare my mental illness and neither do (female or male) colleagues with similar. The declared disability rate at the Bar is quite obviously lower than the reality – I imagine most would be unwilling to declare it (which is unfortunate but that’s the reality).



Fancy a date?


Law finalist at Oxford

If people don’t feel comfortable donating to this cause – no one is forcing you. But why should anyone be stopped from pursing their dreams because of means? If Katy wants to seek help to fund her dreams then she bloody well can!!!

And everyone questioning her on her disability and struggles – shame on you! I am currently going through law finals at Oxford and it’s fucking hard. Maybe wherever you went to uni it was manageable to get through your degree and be coping with various conditions at the same time but I certainly couldn’t be doing it – this girl is incredible


Original Anonymous

Oxford Law Finalist – you make 2 key points.

First you ask why should anyone be prevented from pursuing their dreams because of means. Quite evidently this woman is in a better financial position than even the average student in the country. If she is justified in expecting financial contributions for means-based reasons then so is virtually every student, which is the point made by others.

Secondly you point out how hard Oxford law finals are – I know, I had a major breakdown in the run-up to mine. I don’t want to give identifying detail but suffice it to say it was a major struggle to eventually scrape through my degree.

Indeed it’s this exact fact that leads me to the conclusion that she is not significantly disabled – anyone who can cope with that level of stress with so many exams all at once and come out with a first is not significantly impaired on a day-to-day basis (which is necessary to fit the definition of legal disability).



I hope you make it!!!



As a fellow #EndoWarrior I unfortunately know how crippling endometriosis can be. Endometriosis is considered a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 as only women can be plagued with this condition and gender is a protected characteristic. However it is highly unlikely a woman will qualify for Personal Independent Payment, which cover the majority of registered disabilities and you won’t get a Blue Badge with just endometriosis.



That’s because the PIP regulations fall foul of the definition of disability recognised in the UNCRPD (which has been affirmed by the CJEU in C-335/11 and C-337/11 Ring and Skouboe Werge) – not because people living with endometriosis aren’t disabled!



This is not the case. Endometriosis can be very severe and chronic, and in such circumstances will be considered a disability. But endometriosis is quite common and most women who have it done not have it severely and would not meet the test for disability. In lay terms – because I suspect many readers don’t know what it is – endometriosis is where there is a problem with the womb lining and it leads to painful periods and reduced fertility (only infertility in extreme cases). I accept that the “painful periods” can be very severe indeed, and consequently limiting. But most sufferers of this common condition have it mildly, are not disabled and lead normal lives.
Incidentally it is not a disability because only one gender gets it – that is true of many conditions and is irrelevant to whether something is a disability, which depends solely on how limiting the condition is.



This seems to be the exact opposite scenario to the last one (Leila).

There someone with slim pupillage chances asked for the full fees for a course that would not help her chances whatsoever (the BPTC).

Here someone with a good shot at getting pupillage is only asking for partial fees (after making efforts to save her own money) on a course that definitely would improve her chances.

All the best to Katy, I hope it works out.



There are few people with more serious, non hidden , “traditional” disabilities eg wheelchair user, blind, deaf, but the numbers of women barristers with endometriosis – a very common condition – probably reflects the national average. If anything it will be higher than average because people are more likely to push for a diagnosis.
Also, how does she know due probably wouldn’t get pupillage? Why didn’t she apply a few weeks ago, and if she didn’t get it done the BCL, and if she did then do the Bar Course next year.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



Wow. You’re such a prick. Endometriosis isn’t always ‘mild’. The condition for some women, including myself, is crippling, debilitating and impacts every corner of your life. ‘Push for a diagnosis’…you actual fuckwit. Did you know you can only diagnose endometriosis after a laparoscopy? You can’t ‘push’ for fucking surgery. The average time it takes for a woman to be diagnosed is 7.5 years. ‘Attention seeking and should get on with life…’ The arrogance of idiots blessed with good health seriously grates me. Just remember fuckwit… shitty health and chronic, long term and untreatable conditions don’t discriminate. Let’s see how you or someone who care about react when you get ill.



Original commentator here….I never said endometriosis is mild, only that it was a mild disability. The definition of disability is essentially that something has significant restrictions on every day life, so for any person with a disability, this will be significant for them. But disabilities are still milder or more severe. Someone who is in a wheelchair for example has a moderate disability, and someone with significant learning disabilities a severe one. Clearly even the most severe form of endometriosis is not as restrictive as either of those, and so is a mild disability (when it is a disability – it isn’t always).
You make a lot of unpleasant comments about myself. I was diagnosed with cancer at 31, have had major mental health problems for many years, and I am dyslexic. I am very aware that legally I am disabled for many reasons, but I do not wave the disability card around, and do not generally consider myself to be disabled at all. The reason is simple: the person I love most in the world has a very severe disability (using the definition above), and I recognise that overall I am very advantaged in life.
Incidentally I am very aware of how endometriosis is diagnosed. I am also very aware of the NHS, and unfortunately pushing and complaining does get results. Wrong and unfair, but true.
My position is that people with milder disabilities like this lady – and myself, although mine are clearly more serious than hers – should be grateful for what they have got, and should not try to push the disabled card and expect others to fund them. This makes people cynical about supporting those with real severe disabilities. Plus, why should the general public support someone advantaged in so many ways? Particularly when the “disability” she trumps is clearly never going to be underrepresented at the Bar.
Please focus on the issues, count yourself as lucky, and stop being so nasty.



Why was this moderated??? It simply stated the truth. Endo (as it is often abbreviated to), is very common, and rarely meets the statutory test for disability. On the rare occasions it is severe enough to do is, it clearly it still only a mild disability.
We don’t know enough about this lady to know if her own endo meets the statutory test for disability, but in any event, she is publicity seeking and has very little wrong with her. To suggest the general public should support her, because her type of disability (if it is such) are underrepresented at the Bar is also wrong. She is publicity seeking, and she has very little wrong her, and it is revolting the way she is seeking to use a “disability card”, when there are so many others with serious disabilities that really do impact on their life chances, and are under represented in professions such as the Bar.



Good luck to her! She seems like a really honest and hardworking individual. However, I would try and minimise using the ‘gender inequality’ card in the future. It does not work anymore 🙂


Angry person







The comments here about Katy not having a real disability and being “attention seeking” really are disgusting.

First, it’s unlikely that someone as talented at law as she is would just claim to be “disabled” if she was not. Absent access to a detailed medical history, you have no idea about how her condition affects her daily life, or how how difficult it has made things for her. To just say that “hidden mild disabilities” are common at the Bar betrays stunning ignorance.

Second, are you aware that you’re talking about a real person, who is likely reading these comments? Considering the article mentions her connected depressive disorder, why make unfriendly and unfair comments? It shows a lack of empathy, a lack of basic human decency, or both.

Katy has obviously worked very hard until now, has clearly been working to build up savings for her course, and is now attempting to make up a shortfall. Donate, or don’t. I donated because I think she deserves the opportunity to go do the BCL. It’s not about her not “getting on with life”, it’s about helping her afford her next step.



To chime in, as someone who was at New College with Katy, it’s important to stress how lovely and deserving she is. Even while she was going through all of the above, she did everything she could to help other people in College as one of our Welfare reps.

She is genuinely one of the most caring, kind, and considerate people I have ever met, as well as being incredibly intelligent. She deserves every opportunity and success.



Irrelevant. Please focus on the issues.



> GoFundMe page offers possibility of donating to individual x
> says information provided about person x is irrelevant to whether a person might want to donate to them.



You dick.



I stand by my comment that hidden mild disabilities are common at the Bar. (I am at the Bar, and have a range of hidden mild disabilities). Who are you????

I don’t know whether Katy’s endometriosis means she is disabled or not – that depends on how serious it is, and we have not been told. But I do know that if (unlike most) her endometriosis is serious enough to be a disability it is still a hidden and mild disability. Think about it. That is obviously the case. A severe disability would be someone who couldn’t walk OR see OR hear OR do a range of other things. Clearly it is hidden – no one knows she has it until she tells us.
She has set up a webpage to raise money, and has now got Legal Cheek to publicise it – of course she is attention seeking! She has a minor disability (at best), and is trying to use it to get money and suggest that supporting her in someway helps disabled people. I have far more serious disabilities than she does (which are definitely disabilities), and i think what she is doing – not what I am saying – is disgusting.



>Is sitting on £8K
>Parents helping her out
>Went to Oxford
>Trying to enter an elite profession

Remind me again how there are not 10’s of millions of people in the country more deserving of a cash handout, all circumstances considered?

Like people who are caring for a loved one who is in a permanent vegetative state, or a low-paid public sector employee starting out their career?

Her achievements are commendable but she is clearly not ‘in need’. If she really wanted she could take a couple of years out to work and save up the money for herself.



don’t donate then



> is sitting on 8k because she’s worked for a year to try to save the money
> parents helping her out however they can to try to make up a shortfall due to (literally) being unable to afford the astronomical fees even by working for a year
> must have forgot to go to the magical money fairy at Oxford that gives every student a trust fund. Because it couldn’t be the case that *shock* she paid for her degree with student loans, and that going to Oxford doesn’t mean you’re wealthy
> “trying to enter an elite profession” the fact that it’s easier to enter this elite profession if you’re wealthy is already a problem.

She isn’t saying she’s in a comparable position to the people you mention (who, incidentally, are currently being and will be helped by her practice). She’s asking for help to make up a shortfall. The “but x is worse off” is a logical fallacy called “relative privation”. I suggest you should go read about it.



Oxford University pride itself on never having to let a student turn down a place on the BCL due to finances.

This is girl has done something wrong?!



Hold up, you also get £10k from the government for post grad student now, so she’s REALLY doing something wrong



Her disability is irrelevant to what she is asking for. She is clearly in a pretty privileged position compared to a great many people out there. That’s not to say she’s not deserving, far from it. However she should be honest about her goal, rather than couching it in this narrative about being a woman and being disabled.

Oh, and before I get the predictable attacks – my partner suffers from endometriosis, fairly severely, so I know just how debilitating it can be. That’s not the issue at play here.



Agreed. It is sick the way this publicity seeking young woman is using the disability card, when she is probably not disabled at all and certainly has nothing more than a mild hidden disability, which are in fact very common at the Bar.


Ms. Endo Metriosis.

Absolutely disgusting. She has just rendered herself unemployable. Well done again LC.



Of course she hasn’t. Compare the supportive comments to the rabid MRA comments and see that you are in the minority here. She is very employable indeed.



FUck this bitch she ain’t getting any of my moneeyy



I suffer from encopresis, which is very crippling disability but I couldn’t apply for a Crowdfunding because of the sheer embarrassment.



What is encopresis?




Just googled it.

You have my sympathy…



Which instructing solicitor will give a monkeys about her tedious medical conditions…?

Honestly dearie, we don’t want to know…

“Mixed anxiety disorder”. What a load of old cobblers.



Keep up the good work, Katy! You’re an inspiration. Let’s make all the positive comments drown out the sour grapes putting a downer on your goal. x


Actually registered as disabled

…and I didn’t even dare do this.

What a surprise, she wants to be a Barrister.


Legally disabled barrister

To be fair, all of those identifying themselves as barristers on here have been against this.



Why the fxxck do we need barristers for? Speaking of evolution of the British society…



Give your spare money to charity – not someone who lives rent-free in London with their retired parents and has £8k in savings.

Good luck to her with her career – just don’t think she should be asking people to fund what is an optional add-on to her CV (irrespective of how prestigious an add-on it is).



This whole thing is rather self-indulgent and silly.

Lots of people suffer from all kinds of things and don’t ask for money to compensate. At least she got to Oxford and has a very good degree.

In our shockingly divided nation, a lot of people with ability won’t even get to a decent uni, let alone Oxford. I think this is what we should be focussing on.

Better to give your money to charity to help poor starving children than to someone with a Oxford degree who wants more time in the library.



I made it to the bar without:

– Parental money
– A post-grad degree
– An Oxbridge first
– Somewhere to live rent free

But with:

– A serious illness requiring ongoing treatment.

Crowdfunding didn’t exist 10 years ago, but why does this young lady think she won’t make it to the Bar without an Oxford BCL? Is it now a prerequisite?



I’m truly sick of seeing these! The attitude seems to be ‘apply first, work out the funding later and hope the general public will foot the bill’. I’ve had to work full time and study my masters part time over 2 years so that I can afford it, there’s no reason others can’t do the same instead of trying to sponge off others. And endometriosis isn’t a disability.



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


ProBo the Clown of Counsel

Still in hiding from the killer clowns, I believe.





By me.



I am about to embark on the Bar course despite having numerous severe learning disabilities. While I agree that she is clearly coming from a place of relative privilege to other disabled people, her success will hopefully open the door a little wider for other disabled individuals to work at the Bar. ie. If she can’t make it with an Oxbridge first and wealthy parents then how can a BME disabled student from a working class background succeed. Though it is tempting to wish that those worse off should be helped first, it rarely happens that way.

Also, it is not helpful to anyone to pit disabled people against each other to fight for who is ‘worse’. It is more constructive to accept that we just need different adjustments.

Despite this, I find it strange that she has turned to crowd funding for a course that is not necessary for entry for to the Bar.



I’m sorry but you do not have severe learning disabilities. If you did you could not write that message, let alone succeed as a barrister. Learning disability means very low (subnormal) IQ.
I think you probably mean learning difficulties? Typically this is dyslexia, but can also include dyspraxia and a range of other conditions.
You should probably get this right!


Cashew Nut

I am a cashew nut and I’m applying for crowd funding to become a barrister, as no bank will give me an account nor will anyone employ me. I want to win my case in the Employment Tribunal, not for me, but for all nuts



And she now has more funds than she needs! Don’t suppose there’s much chance she’ll donate the extra to people with real disabilities that do in fact make becoming a barrister more difficult.



I’m very confused about the statements that she is ‘not really’ disabled or only mildly so. Surely it’s obvious that chronic severe pain seriously impacts one’s ability to function. Plenty of people are registered disabled because of chronic pain from various underlying conditions.


LL and P

This is a clear example of how awful people can be, and I always wonder why legal cheek writes articles like this about individuals (assuming those individuals don’t ask for the publicity). The amount of guff written about this girl here, privileged or not, is quite sad. I assume she has quite thick skin though and accepts this abuse as she has the bigger picture in mind.


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