I am used to being in places where people think I don’t belong. From being raised as the child of Nigerian immigrants in 80s Scotland, spending a large part of my childhood in Saudi Arabia, or being a tax barrister, I am often the first or only in spaces that I occupy.

As the story goes in my family, I was destined to become a barrister. I was obsessed with courtroom dramas from a young age and, to the dismay of my siblings and cousins, during long summers at my grandparents’ home in Nigeria I would often appoint myself as judge, jury and executioner when one of our group misbehaved.

Probably one of my most rewarding experiences so far was an internship at HMP Brixton during my postgraduate degree in crime, control and globalisation from the London School of Economics. I had joined the Diversity & Inclusion team at Brixton following a finding of institutional racism within the prison system. Tasked with speaking to prisoners and wardens and writing up our findings on how to address inequalities within the system, I came away with a deeper understanding of the influence that our perception of others has on the decisions we make. On reflection, it probably paved the way for the work I do now with my business, Kiltered.

Rejection sucks, but it happens. I secured pupillage at a corporate and financial crime set but was not offered tenancy. This hit me hard as I did not have a Plan B. I have a tendency to self-sabotage when things don’t go to plan but, over time, I have learned the importance of reframing knockbacks as opportunities. It really forced me to look at the work I wanted to do and how I wanted to work, which led me to pursue a career at the Employed Bar specialising in tax disputes. I have been happily practising in that space for over 10 years now.

More people interested in the Bar need to be told that there is a myriad of options available to them. There were two main factors that led me to the Employed Bar: firstly – a regular, reliable income; secondly – the type of cases that I wanted to do were simply not being handed out to people at my level at the self-employed Bar. Consequently, I get far more involved in the type of work I want to do than some of my self-employed peers.

We need to do more to change the perception of employed barristers both inside and outside of the profession. Those at the self-employed Bar need to stop seeing employed barristers as ‘less than’. I have had colleagues remark that I am not a ‘real’ barrister anymore.

The thing that I miss the most about my time at the Criminal Bar is jury advocacy. It’s a very specific type of adrenaline rush that I just don’t get anywhere else. The hardest part of the transition to employed practice was time recording. The concept of recording every six minutes of your day blows my mind. A decade on and I am still not sure that I have fully got the hang of it.

We often talk about being our authentic selves at work but this is easier said than done sometimes – especially when you don’t know who that is yet. People often have an idea in their head of how a barrister should look, speak and act. I didn’t really match that. There can often be a tension between the desire to fit in and the desire to be yourself. Being yourself always wins in my view, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard in certain situations.

Find inspiration wherever you can. It is great to have an ‘official’ mentor but a lot of the people who mentor me don’t even know that they are role models of mine. It’s like dating – sometimes we spend ages looking for that perfect person when what you actually needed was in front of you the whole time.

People can be more than one thing. I am a lawyer and I love it, but I am also a proud entrepreneur. I set up Kiltered two years ago. I work with business leaders who want to engage more of their employees and develop the skills needed to make more inclusive decisions. The world of work has changed dramatically and the one-size-fits-all approach to leadership that many people were taught simply doesn’t work anymore (if it ever really did). I learn so much from my clients too. It’s not often you get to sit down with founders, partners, directors and CEOs at some of the most successful businesses and understand what makes them tick.

The law has a bit of a PR problem. I try and help business leaders adopt strategies that say we don’t just value one type of employee and I believe this is really important in law. Those courtroom dramas that I watched as a child? The lawyers were mainly White men. And if there were women – they were single or struggling to have it all. That imagery hasn’t changed much since I was a child. Law is for everyone.

Running a business while keeping a legal career afloat is not without its challenges so I have had to set very clear boundaries. While I work most evenings and weekends in some capacity, I always try to carve out as much ‘me time’ as possible. My guilty pleasure is trashy reality TV. So bad, it’s good.

I have a complicated relationship with the word ‘success’. My parents (as I’m sure many ethnic minority parents did) drummed into me that the only successful careers were lawyer, doctor, engineer – so there was a bit of a sigh of relief from them when I chose this path. But there was always some other metric, some other hurdle to cross before I was allowed to relax. Getting into Bar school, getting pupillage, securing tenancy. Then when you make it, there is making partner, taking silk – there is always something. We create these static levels of attainment and beat ourselves up when we don’t reach them within arbitrary timelines. I have chosen to take a break from the concept of success and instead focus on other things like: Am I happy? Am I being challenged? Am I fulfilling my full potential?

Life very rarely looks the way you think it will when you’re planning it out – and that’s okay. We need to allow ourselves to adapt/change without feeling like we have failed.

My party trick? I am a human shazam. I can identify most songs in about 3-5 seconds.