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School of Law

Alumni profile - Sarah Cove

I knew I wanted to become a lawyer when I was 12 and therefore when I looked into degrees later on the LLB was the degree for me. I love London and the East End so Queen Mary was the obvious choice but also the modules at Queen Mary were really interesting.

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What does working as a Circuit Judge look like on a day-to-day basis? What made you choose your current role?

I am a full time Circuit Judge hearing family cases. I hear complex children law cases involving child protection issues and domestic abuse. Each day I sit hearing cases from 10am to 4.30pm sometimes longer and read the cases before and after court. I hear long cases of 5- 10 days, sometimes more than 10 days, so each day will involve hearing evidence and at the end of the trial I give judgment. I also hear short cases each day making decisions in emergency cases and case managing cases to ensure that all of the relevant evidence is obtained without delay.

After I qualified as a solicitor in 1993 I specialised in family law and about 11 years ago I decided I wanted to be a part time judge and believed that there was a need for more specialist family judges.

I then started my judicial career path becoming a Deputy District Judge in 2010. A key turning point in my career was becoming a full time family District Judge in 2016 and then a full time family Circuit Judge in 2019.

How did your time studying Law at Queen Mary equip you for life after university?

I discovered my interest in family law and human rights after being inspired by my tutor Dr Bryan. He also taught me the Children Act 1989 when it was brand new. The Children Act was ground breaking family legislation and I have used and built upon that knowledge every day since.

Why did you choose your degree subject? Why did you choose Queen Mary?

I knew I wanted to become a lawyer when I was 12 and therefore when I looked into degrees later on the LLB was the degree for me. I love London and the East End so Queen Mary was the obvious choice but also the modules at Queen Mary were really interesting.

What’s a piece of advice which changed your perspective?

Never listen to anyone who says you won’t achieve your goals. A careers teacher at my secondary school told me I should not apply for university but my parents advised I should follow my dreams. That teacher was wrong. I got in the Queen Mary and here I am sitting as Circuit Judge.

What advice would you give a current student or recent graduate considering their career options?

You do not have to have a law degree to be a lawyer. If there is a subject you are passionate about study that then convert, costs allowing.

What was the most memorable thing about your time at Queen Mary?

There were so many memorable things but the highlight was meeting my husband at the ULU bar. I was really happy at Queen Mary.

Do you have any role models that you look up to, in or out of your field?

Lady Brenda Hale, Judge Nicholas Crichton, who died in 2018 and was an inspirational family judge and Michelle Obama as well as many of the leadership Judges who I work with now.

 

 

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