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This week's Tutor: Dr. Annika Newnham

It's Tuesday, which means it's time to learn about another one of our wonderful tutors. This week it's Dr. Annika Newnham: family law extraordinaire with the cool pink hair.

1) Alma mater?

The University of Sussex - I started my degree as a mature student with two children, and Sussex was the only University near enough to be a practical option - but I also loved it there.

2) Who inspires you?

Ness from Gavin and Stacey. ( She originally said Baroness Hale but thought it was too boring but we all know there's no shame in loving Brenda)

3) What made you want to pursue a career in law?

I always had an interest in current affairs, politics and feminism. Law seemed to me to combine understanding and analysing politics/society with opportunities to actually change things as well.

4) Did you take the traditional path or did you have a career before law?

I didn't take a traditional path. Age 18, I left college in a small town in Sweden absolutely exhausted by studying and decided to have a year out, which eventually turned into a decade. I worked as an au-pair in London, as night-shift manager of a McDonald's in Stockholm, and then trained at an elite Secretarial College in Stockholm which sent me to Brighton for three months, during which time I met my now husband at the Pink Coconut nightclub, married (largely for immigration purposes) had two children and worked as a secretary. I did A-levels evening classes and then applied to Sussex University.

5) Career highlight

I once spent an office chatting to a student. She had fallen behind with her studies because of some stressful things that happened in her life. I got her back into tutorials and with an action plan to catch up. At the end of the term she sent me a thank you card that said inside: "thank you for talking to me. It meant more to me than you'll ever know". I must randomly had said something really empathetic and useful. I get a lump in my throat thinking about it all these years later.

6) Legal journey low point?

Definitely being fourth (out of four) in a semi-final moot as a second year student. I'm not gonna lie, I went home and cried. The solicitor who judged it clearly hated my policy-based argument (the law was firmly on the other side's side). And then I decided to become an academic. So it worked out alright in the end.

7) Best thing about your job?

Students! Where else would I be allowed to talk to people about common intention constructive trusts?

8) A Significant career achievement?

Dr Maebh Harding did some research collecting data from Family Court files, a highlight was having our research cited in Hansard in the House of Lords and helping to make a new reform slightly less damaging.

9) What would you be doing now if a career in law was not an option?

Ideally, building Lego models for Legoland Windsor. Realistically, probably some kind of middle manager.

10) A piece of advice for our students?

Work, careers and adulting generally are all difficult and you don't have to have them all figured out right now. OSCOLA, on the other hand...


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