I never intended to spend more than two years at the employed Bar. My plan was to complete my pupillage with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – give back something for its investment and then leave to practise at the self-employed Bar. That was the plan but, as the military say, it failed to stand up to contact with reality – 29 years later I am still in public service and still enjoying every day!

As an employed barrister I have worked in the CPS, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), Home Office and Ministry of Justice Legal Advisers in the Government Legal Department (GLD) as well as a serving as Principal Private Secretary to the Home Secretary. I am now Director of Legal Services at the Health and Safety Executive – one of the largest prosecutors in England and Wales.

My career with the CPS started with it offering me pupillage before I had even started my legal training (I am a history graduate). A paid pupillage in 1994 was a rarity and it was a great way for someone with limited means to get a foot on the legal career ladder. Both the CPS and Government Legal Profession (GLP) continue to offer excellent training schemes for barristers and solicitors (see www.cps.gov.uk/careers-cps and the GLP scheme at bit.ly/4686sdz). I would strongly encourage aspiring barristers to consider these training programmes – they provide the junior barrister early exposure to some of the most important and serious criminal and public law cases.

As an employed barrister in the CPS, from a very early stage of your career you will be in court dealing with a variety of prosecutions – from shoplifting to murders. In terms of advocacy, it is highly unlikely that any other role – be it at the self-employed Bar or elsewhere – allows a newly qualified barrister such a great chance to be in court so regularly.

The work of a prosecutor is intellectually stimulating as well as varied. You also have the chance to be involved in landmark cases and shape the law. For example, I was the prosecutor in the case of R v Dica [2004] EWCA Crim 1103, the first successful prosecution for inflicting GBH by way of transmitting the HIV virus. You can also get to manage and coordinate large scale and complex cases involving specialist police squads.

Very quickly, I was seduced by the variety, interest and importance of the work I was doing in the CPS and thoughts of the self-employed Bar soon started to recede. This was all the more so once I was appointed a Crown Advocate. This meant I had rights of audience in the Crown Court where I conducted jury trials as well as hearings in the Court of Appeal. I now had many of the benefits of the self-employed Bar but with the added advantages of a regular salary, generous pension, annual leave and a supportive network of colleagues and varied training and developmental opportunities.

My work in the CPS led to an appointment as a Senior Legal Adviser at the AGO. This was fascinating. The Attorney General is the government’s chief legal adviser and nearly everything that happens in government will, at some point, come across the desk of the Attorney General. Ministers and senior officials want reassurance and comfort that their actions or policies are lawful and for this they turn to the Attorney General. This means the employed barrister at the AGO sees an incredible range of absorbing and important work.

I was very lucky to have areas of responsibility which included: contempt and media law, national security and international humanitarian law as well as acting as speechwriter to the Attorney General. As speechwriter to the Attorney, I fully utilised my Bar advocacy skills. Speechwriting required legal knowledge and the ability to shape and deliver a persuasive and powerful message – one which would deliver the Attorney’s or government’s policy objectives in giving the speech. The process of speechwriting is one which also requires negotiation skills. No speech is an orphan – everyone will have a view. You will often need to liaise and negotiate with other departments, pressure groups, parliamentarians and colleagues in the office. The speechwriter needs to reflect, consider and reconcile multiple views while all the time maintain the integrity of the core message.

After the AGO I moved to the GLD based in the Home Office Legal Advisers Division eventually becoming the Deputy Director heading the Policing, Crime and Fire Team. This was a very wide ranging role as my team advised on varied topics such as a police powers, the use of firearms, police pay and discipline, safeguarding the vulnerable and UK drugs policy. We also worked closely on reforms to the fire service, particularly in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy.

An exciting aspect of being an advisory lawyer at the Home Office was the chance to work on Bills going through Parliament. As lawyers we are very familiar with interpreting, advising on and enforcing the law. It is rare, however, that we get the chance to actually help write those laws.

From Home Office I moved to the Ministry of Justice where at various times I led the legal teams advising Ministers on prisons and offenders; international law; the Crown Dependencies as well as being appointed Principal Legal Adviser to the Legal Aid Agency. Each of these roles showed again what an interesting and varied life the employed barrister in public service can lead. No day is the same and you are often called in at short notice to advise on obscure and unusual legal questions.

At the start of this year I took up my current role as Director of Legal Services in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE is a GB regulator and the Division I lead is responsible for all HSE prosecutions in England and Wales; and provides oversight and coordination for HSE prosecutions in Scotland (where the Procurator Fiscal prosecutes on behalf of investigative bodies like HSE and police). In addition to deciding if prosecutions should be instituted and then prosecuting the cases, my Division also provide legal advice on a range of regulatory and policy questions.

The work of HSE is far more than just high vis jackets, clipboards and hard hats – HSE is the UK’s standalone chemical regulator; it advises on control of biocides and pesticides; it is responsible for control of explosives; it is a statutory consultee for various matters; and it is now the Building Safety Regulator for England. The lawyers in my team advise on all these matters and also questions of employment law, procurement and general public law questions.

HSE is a fascinating place to work and the people we advise are the very best in the game – that keeps us on our toes and ensures work is stimulating and enjoyable. Working here also reinforces my belief that the employed Bar is every bit as interesting as the self-employed Bar with many additional benefits and why, 29 years on, I still haven’t implemented my plan to leave.