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In Your Defence


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A legal equivalent of Henry Marsh's Do No Harm. A barrister's riveting, insightful account of life at the bar and eleven cases that demonstrate the strengths, weakness and realities of our legal system.

About the Author

Sarah Langford has been a practising barrister since 2006, both in London and around the country, principally in criminal and family law. She studied English at the University of the West of England. She worked as a barmaid, legal secretary and note-taking clerk before completing a law conversion, in which she gained a distinction. She was awarded a scholarship from Gray's Inn of Court and went on to train as a barrister. She lives with her husband and two small boys in London and Suffolk.


"Sarah Langford has reinvented a genre ... [as a barrister she has turned] her experience of 11 criminal cases into short stories that are as compelling as fiction, with the added fascination of being essentially true ... Immensely powerful." -- Jenni Russell * Sunday Times *
"A compelling read for anyone who cares about fairness, justice and humanity and should be on the reading list of all politicians and policy-makers." -- Catherine Baksi * Observer *
"[Langford] combines the demands of her job, the stories of those she represents and her own views and emotions with great skill...powerful, moving and often captivating." -- Barney Thompson * Financial Times *
"Vivid... surprisingly uplifting. A thoughtful, elegant book. ... it is often as thrilling as a detective novel. And sometimes it is moving: the last chapter had this reviewer in tears." -- Thomas Grant, QC - author of Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories * The Times *
"A riveting account of cases she's fought over nearly 10 years in the family courts. These are harrowing stories: of newborns taken by social services, of bitter divorces, of children trapped in the turbulence of addiction, gangs, or both, an unprecedented collection, moving, enraging and desperate, all told in Langford's cool, compelling prose." -- Charlotte Edwardes * Evening Standard *
"This compelling book tracks eleven cases through the criminal and family courts...tales of despair and hope that could be about you or me. Sarah Langford's stated objective is to bring 'to life ideas which otherwise so often appear in abstract: fairness, justice, truth'. The result is a resounding and thought-provoking success....Insightful and often haunting ... Langford starts her journey as a single woman; she ends it married and soon to be a mother. Between times she has been changed. And, over the course of her book, so are we... There are unforgettable descriptions ... As much as these are engrossing stories, written with flair, and in clean, tight prose, Langford has serious points to make..." -- William Brodrick * Literary Review *
"By turns heartbreaking and hopeful, and succeeds in giving an articulate, compassionate voice to those who would otherwise struggle to be heard. The prose is engrossing, and the book is only too easy to devour in great gulps ... Langford tackles the frustration and fears of the profession with honesty and energy." -- Olivia Potts * Spectator *
"This page-turner gets to the heart of whether or not the legal system delivers justice, impartiality and fair judgment." * Law Society Gazette *
"In Your Defence is an anthology of beautifully rendered stories of legal practice, each striking at the beating heart of our justice system. The storytelling is compelling, reading like page-turning fiction, but speaking in every chapter to fundamental truths about the meaning of justice for those trapped in the wheels of our criminal and family courts. Sarah Langford breathes vibrancy and compassion into the dusty tomes of the law, capturing and exposing the raw humanity lying beneath the system, and offering a necessary reminder of the impact of the law on those whose lives are chartered by its whims." -- The Secret Barrister
"Editor's Choice: Brilliant, highly's hard to imagine a better written or more insightful account of life at the bar than this." -- Caroline Sanderson * The Bookseller *

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