Welcome home: Barrister Anna Bond returns back to the North after her career took her to London

June 28, 2021

This article was originally published in Leeds & Yorkshire Lawyer (June 2021, Issue 170)

Barrister Anna Bond has returned to the North after her career took her to London. Anna explains how her move back home has led to her being instructed on more serious and complex cases in the Crown Court.

In February 2021 I moved to Exchange Chambers in Leeds to join the Criminal team practising in courts throughout the North Eastern circuit. This was a decision I had thought long and hard about and one I am so glad I made.

I decided I wanted to be a barrister when I was 11 years old after my Dad was killed in a road traffic accident. Due to the nature of the accident, a barrister was instructed to prosecute the case. My mum told me stories of his intellect and skill and I became infatuated with the role that barristers play in our Criminal Justice System. At the age of 20, when I was in my last year of my law degree at the University of Leeds, I was lucky enough to do a mini pupillage with that barrister my Mum had told me about. That’s when I knew I wanted to do nothing else.

But I took a slightly longer route to the bar. I decided to go into teaching to gain some life experience as I didn’t feel quite ready for the responsibility that comes with this profession at 21. Not only that, the Bar Professional Training Course (which at that time cost in excess of £15,000) was far too expensive for a girl from a single parent working class family – my mum is a full-time carer for my sister who has complex disabilities and so I couldn’t depend on her for financial support.

I taught English and Religious Education to students aged 11-18 before becoming Head of Law at a Sixth form in East London. In 2017, I joined the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Courts that barristers have to be a member of, and applied for a scholarship to enable me to train. Thankfully, I was given a full scholarship which covered the entire cost of the Bar Professional Training Course which I then undertook part time so that I could continue to teach full time. I applied for pupillage in 2018 and, owing to the fact that my only connections to the Bar were in London, decided to apply for sets on the South Eastern Circuit.  I was lucky enough to be offered pupillage by QEB Hollis Whiteman and commenced that pupillage in September 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed pupillage. I was in the Magistrates Court every day covering all manner of criminal cases. But it became apparent very quickly that I wanted to come back home. I was attracted to Exchange Chambers due to the fact that they had a strong bases in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – the three northern cities that I have close connections to – and also because of the type of cases I would have the opportunity to work on.

Since joining Exchange, my practise has developed significantly. The biggest difference is that I have been instructed in cases in the Crown Court almost exclusively, save for private driving cases in the Magistrates Court. I have thoroughly enjoyed this change and have had the opportunity to work on more serious and more complex cases. For example, I am currently instructed in trials involving accusations of serious assault and threatening with a bladed article. I am also regularly instructed to represent defendants who have pleaded guilty and fall to be sentenced. I also recently defended a woman for sentence at York Crown Court; she had pleaded guilty to a serious offence of dangerous driving which she had committed after losing her father and I was able to persuade the judge to give her a suspended sentence. Cases like these are of course close to my heart and I feel grateful that I am now able to defend them.

I also feel grateful to be back in the North. I am thoroughly enjoying being back in the city I lived in for 3 years as a student and re-visiting the places I haven’t been to for far too long. Despite the fact my work is now more complex and demanding, my work-life balance has improved significantly since I made the move and I am able to enjoy all that Leeds and the surrounding cities have to offer. I very much look forward to taking even more advantage of the vibrancy of Leeds and in person meetings with other members of the profession as lockdown is lifted.

Anna Bond is a criminal barrister at Exchange Chambers in Leeds.

Anna, who was called to the Bar on 2019, is on the approved list of CPS external advocates and therefore regularly prosecutes as much as she defends. She also has experience of appellate work having been instructed and assisted in appeals in the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal. Anna’s written advocacy is as strong as her oral advocacy and, as such, she is regularly instructed to produce written advices on a range of matters.

Anna is passionate about access to the Bar and speaks at panel events to promote equality and diversity in the profession.