Sophia Whiteside (Berry) left Queen’s in 2004, when Mrs Buckley was Headmistress. She feels that Mrs Buckley helped to develop the school into a ‘new age’, including the complete remodelling of the current reception. Sophia studied the subjects History, Biology, English Literature, Spanish, and French at A Level and after attending various open days and organising work experience through families that she babysat for, Sophia found that her area of interest was Law.

Whilst studying at Queen’s, Sophia considered herself ‘average’ and certainly ‘not a star’ but always felt that anything is possible if you are determined. This inspired her application to the prestigious University of Cambridge where she took to her course ‘like a duck to water’, and later her Master’s application to King’s College, London. She felt that the smaller classes and mature attitudes of the pupils at Queen’s helped to prepare her for a university environment because of the way Queen’s teachers treat students as adults, as well as boosting her confidence levels and enabling her to present her own argument. This further prepared her for the attention she receives from a judge when in court.

“In university, you’re challenged by your tutor. Now, in court, you’re challenged by a judge.”

Sophia first trained to be a solicitor, but soon made the change to become a barrister in commercial and employment law, and her first trial was in May 2013. Despite Sophia being the only graduate of 2004 to study Law at university, three other Queen’s contemporaries are now also trained as solicitors. Even 10 years after graduating, Sophia finds her A Level studies hugely beneficial when writing supporting legal documents to present to a court, and even when writing chapters for a book on arbitration and ethical rights which is to be published shortly.

As Sophia now interviews prospective pupil barristers in a format similar to that of UCAS applicants, she has a range of advice for future applicants: 1, take advantage of any facilities that Queen’s has to offer, even including spell checks! 2, it’s nice to read about an unusual hobby, don’t just put what they want to hear. 3, if you’re set on being a lawyer, or are even unsure of your future career, consider taking law on its own or as a combined degree due to the various doors it open up for you.

Interview by Zoe Elston, Year 13