From black belt to the bench: Martial arts expert, 37, appointed to judiciary

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Don’t mess with Siew Ying Loke

Image credit: Tang Sou Dao website

A government barrister who moonlights as a martial arts teacher has been appointed to the bench.

Siew Ying Loke, who currently advises the Attorney General’s Office on issues relating to criminal and public law, is set to become an immigration judge in the first-tier tribunal. The 37-year-old lawyer’s new role will be based in London and will take effect from 14 May 2018, according to a statement published on the judiciary’s website.

What the statement omits is that Loke is effectively a deadly weapon. This is because the University of Exeter grad is also a martial arts master with a sixth-degree black belt, who spends her time teaching self-defence (when she isn’t offering legal pointers to Jeremy Wright QC, that is).

Image credit: Tang Sou Dao website

“Many people ask me if I have ever got bored of training, having trained now for over twenty-five years. I can honestly say that although I have been frustrated at times, I have never been bored,” Loke explains on her instructor profile. The former Lamb Building barrister continues:

“Training has been an integral part of my own personal growth and self-discovery throughout the years and that has not stopped yet.”

Interestingly, Loke is not the only lawyer to share a passion for martial arts. Civil law barrister Sarah Robson shot to Legal Cheek fame in 2013 when she produced an interesting martial arts video of herself breaking pieces of wood.

Back to Loke, and her appointment is unusual not just because of her martial arts passion, but also her sprightly age. In a similar vein, Hardwicke barrister Sarah Venn has been appointed a circuit judge on the south eastern circuit. Venn — who will be 41 when she starts her new role later this year — becomes one of the youngest circuit judges ever appointed.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Commenting on Venn’s move to the bench, Harwicke’s joint head of chambers, PJ Kirby QC, said:

“We are absolutely thrilled for Sarah at this very well deserved appointment. She will be an asset to the south eastern circuit and her appointment is a refreshing signal of growing judicial diversity. We are very proud of her achievements and wish her every success in the next stage of her career.”

In 2016, Legal Cheek brought you news of Anna Midgley, a junior barrister who was appointed as a Crown Court judge aged just 33. Briony Clarke, a criminal solicitor who now sits as a deputy district judge, is believed to be the country’s youngest female judge. She was 31 when she was sworn in.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

Related Stories

Junior barrister, 33, made a Crown Court judge

Anna Midgley is the youngest recorder in recent history

Jan 7 2016 1:26pm

How to become a judge when you’re only in your 20s

The judiciary needs and wants younger judges, one part-time judge and barrister explains how to apply

Oct 24 2017 3:02pm

‘Karate lawyer’ promises to take out corrupt judges using martial arts expertise in hilarious spoof advert

‘What I lack in formal legal qualifications, I make up for in karate moves’

Aug 25 2017 11:19pm