Alexandra Wilson offers a child-friendly look at the bar
A junior member of the bar has appeared on a children’s TV show to explain what barristers are and why they wear wigs.
In the latest episode of What’s on Your Head?, which explores the things people wear on their heads in different jobs and cultures around the world, and premiered on CBeebies yesterday, 5 St Andrew’s Hill barrister Alexandra Wilson began with the bar basics.
“A barrister is someone who works in the law, which is a set of rules that apply to everyone, even adults,” said Wilson, who specialises in criminal and family law. “Lawyers know all of these rules and can help adults if they forget what they are.”
She also explained the role of classic court headwear — but not before a group of children could hazard a guess.
“I think it’s a bed for a dog,” said one child, seen holding a barrister’s wig.
“It’s a basket,” guessed another.
“I think it’s some sort of hat that Romans used to wear,” another child added.
“The wig that barristers wear is a symbol of how serious the job that they’re about to do is,” said Wilson, also known as the ‘Essex Barrister’ on Twitter, where she has over 45,000 followers. “My wig is actually quite comfortable — I thought it would be really itchy, but it’s not.”
The barrister then looked back on how she felt after first wearing a wig. “I was in a very special wig shop in London. We were in front of a big mirror, me and my grandma, and as I put it on, it felt really, really magical,” she reflected.
Wilson also referenced making national headlines last year after being repeatedly mistaken for a defendant in court. “Occasionally, I go into the court without needing to wear my wig. Sometimes the people in the court have thought that I’m the person in trouble because of the way that I look,” she said, continuing:
“It’s one of the reasons that I love wearing my wig so much, because when I wear it everyone knows that I’m there to do my job. I do wish that people could see me as a barrister without me having to wear it.”
Wilson, who last year authored a book on race and class in the justice system, also offered insight into her long-term career ambitions. “One day, I’d like to wear another very special wig that is a bit longer than this one, and those wigs are for judges. I want to be the person who decides what’s right and what’s wrong. But I’ll have to work very hard to get there.”
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