Studying the courtroom scene in The Merchant of Venice at school, and role-playing a barrister in her English class, inspired Amanda Millmore to study law at university. After years of practice as a barrister, she now teaches law at Reading.
“I went to a straight-forward comprehensive school. I didn’t have connections with the law – it was down to hard work and making your own way.”
Amanda did a lot of work experience before making the decision to choose law as a career. She used to go and sit in court every day, which is how she managed to secure placements. Her work experience opportunities included the Crown Prosecution Service, and her local Magistrates' Court.
"You have to make opportunities for yourself. I loved the law. I loved courts and the whole process and I wanted to help people. I didn’t want to work in the City and earn lots of money. I did family law and criminal law, which is helping real people with real problems—I rather liked that.”
“Students often think law is closed to them because they don’t come from the ‘right’ background. It’s helpful to be able to show them that I managed to do it. If you work hard, and do the right things, you can succeed.”
Balancing research and practice
After graduating, Amanda worked for eight years as a barrister in Criminal, Family & Personal Injury cases. At Reading’s School of Law, Amanda teaches criminal law, family law and tort – all of which dovetail into her practice areas.
"Tort is the law of damages. I was able to give first-year students examples of what different injuries are worth. The students can then vote on their phones to predict compensation for a broken arm, for example, and then I explain the legal reasons behind it.”
Amanda firmly believes that students excel when their studies combine research and practice.
"This combination is one of the things that the School of Law does really well.”
The value of mooting
Amanda talks about the importance of mooting for students. During her studies, she did a lot of mooting as she knew she wanted to be a barrister, and knew this skill would be essential.
"Mooting is performing legal arguments as if you are in the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. I had never done any real public speaking before I went to university. Even though I wanted to be a barrister, I didn’t have those opportunities at school, so I did mooting in my first year. That’s why I like helping students here. I remember being in their shoes. It’s an opportunity for them to have a go at being a barrister.”
“As a lawyer you are solving people’s problems – you’re not always getting them what they want, but part of your job is to get a resolution one way or another. I like talking in front of people – barristers are all thwarted thespians! The Bar is unique but it’s a fantastic job!”