Anuja Ravindra Dhir has become the youngest circuit judge in the old Bailey Court of London. She started wearing her judge’s robe as a circuit judge in February. Dhir is also the first non-white judge to sit at the court ever in Britain.
During high school, a teacher had suggested that Dhir should become a hairdresser, but she proved the teacher and all others — who thought she couldn’t do anything — wrong. Dhir, who is 49 years old, told the press that she is often mistaken for a witness or a defendant whenever she is at the court since she started litigating.
“I remember going to a crown court out of London and the man at the gate didn’t believe I was a barrister. In the end, I had to show him my wig and gown before they would actually let me into the building,” she said.
“I’m often asked if there is a glass ceiling. I think sometimes there are two ceilings — or no glass ceiling at all. There is one glass ceiling that’s in our minds, that’s what we think we can achieve, so perhaps we impose our glass ceiling and that has happened to me several times… Most clients did not want a young, Asian, Scottish female representing them, so that made it harder for me to build a client base,” she told the BBC.
Born and brought up in Dundee, Scotland, Dhir’s parents were Indian immigrants. She studied at Harris Academy before studying English and Scots law at Dundee University. Despite being dyslexic, she won a Gray’s Inn scholarship in London, calling her to the bar in 1989 where she practised for 23 years as both prosecutor and defence counsel.
Her dyslexia was the reason that her teachers advised her against choosing the litigation profession.
“I’m dyslexic, so I find it difficult to read and write. And when I went to school in the 1970s in Scotland, women were not encouraged to aim high. When I first said to a teacher at school, I wanted to go to university when I was older, she told me that I should aim a little lower and suggested I try hairdressing instead,” she recalled.
Picture credit- The Telegraph