1. Like most criminal and family barristers I was privileged to meet a massive range of people, often at tumultuous times of their lives: abusers and abused, victims and perpetrators and heroes. I met social workers, pediatricians, drug addicts, company directors, police officers, teenaged parents, prostitutes, rapists and … well, you get the idea. Many were inspiring human beings. I heard hundreds of stories, and the stories behind those stories. I never write about any one individual but still, that experience is invaluable.
  2. While training in mediation I learned to listen better, especially for what isn't actually said. As a writer I need to walk in my characters' shoes, and for me that means listening to them as though they were real people.
  3. I was always intrigued by the way both sides in - let's say - a divorce case tend to demonise one another. Often each honestly believes themselves to be reasonable, and the other lot to be lying hounds. Perhaps that's why I like to write from everyone's point of view. There isn't just one truth; or if there is, it's rarely told.
  4. Writing a piece of legal advice is very different to writing a novel, but the discipline of it was good for me. I still try to make sure each sentence is logical and useful. I don't always succeed!
  5. When I was about to cross-examine a witness I used to spend time thinking about what made them tick and why they might be lying. I'd watch their body language as they gave evidence, searching for any missing piece of the jigsaw. I still do that, but with my characters.
  6. I'm terrible at self-discipline, but you need it to be a writer. If I hadn't lived through those years when I had to be out of the house early, work late at night and be properly prepared, I'd be struggling more now.
  7. I heard other barristers at work and never stopped learning. Their use of language, pace and even humour was often an inspiration.
  8. Jury speeches were my favourite thing ever. Trying to connect with those twelve vital people, asking them to see my client's side of the story, was nerve-wracking but quite a buzz. The reader is similar in a way. What he or she thinks is all-important.
  9. When it comes to researching any legal aspects of a story, I've got a head start. I know what the inside of a courtroom looks like, and the robing room, and those airless conference rooms. The law's changed a bit, but I'll bet the awful coffee in the machines in the county court hasn't.
  10. It keeps me grateful. Writers often complain about how hard they work - and they do. But there's no commute, and the hours are flexible. When a writing deadline is looming, I'm working seven days a week and feeling bitter and twisted, I remind myself that I'm not going to have to take an early train tomorrow, to face His Honour Judge Velociraptor. What's not to love?