The Hearing

The Hearing – A legal podcast from Thomson Reuters provides unprecedented access to the most interesting people and topics in and around the legal profession. Hosted by lawyer Kevin Poulter, The Hearing welcomes famous, familiar and unsung personalities to sit down and discuss the events and stories that have shaped their lives and careers.

Episode 36 - Alastair Campbell

This week’s guest has experienced a wealth of colourful nicknames including ‘The Riviera Gigolo’, ‘The Burnley Bruiser’ and ‘The Real Deputy Prime Minister’. Yes, it’s former Downing Street Press Secretary and Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell.

He’s chatting to us about the trivial (a love of bagpipes and his ‘soft-porn first forays into writing’), to the momentous (Boris Johnson being a puppet and the media lies around Brexit). Alastair opens up to Kevin about his upbringing, including his time at Cambridge and his assessment of the ‘private schoolboys’.

He talks about the role of the press in supporting a healthy democracy, but discusses the current battle being played out, which isn’t necessarily laden with truths. He also discusses the role of PR and the media in high-profile law cases, and how lawyers should be dealing with them.

Listen to it now https://tmsnrt.rs/2IctrMq

Episode 35 - Leanne Maskell

Imagine this: you're 13 and bullied for being 'ugly'. But in a dramatic turn of events, you put the middle finger up to your bullies and land a modelling job for Vogue that your peers could only dream of. Then you're suddenly plunged into a world of 16 hour days, starvation diets and made to strip naked at work on a regular basis.

So, what do you do? If you're this week's guest, Leanne Maskell, you get a law degree and go on to write an award-winning exposé on exploitation in the modelling industry. Kevin chats to her about her burgeoning legal career and gets the lowdown on her book, The Model Manifesto – an A - Z in anti-exploitation to guide both models and their parents through the murky waters of the fashion industry.

Leanne opens up about her quest to protect other young models from the exploitation she suffered, and help them avoid the pitfalls of financial, sexual, physical and emotional ill-treatment.

Episode 34 - Mary Robinson

This week’s guest is Mary Robinson (never to be called Mrs. Robinson), a lawyer and diplomat who served as the 7th President of Ireland. Kevin and Mary talk about how her early life as the only girl of four siblings ignited her desire for gender equality and how in her own words ‘she learned how to use her elbows’.

A former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary talks in a refreshingly frank way about the social justice implications of climate change, her admiration for Greta Thunberg and how Nelson Mandela taught her to listen to both the locals and young people for insights. She tells us all about her position as Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice, and human rights, founded by Mandela.

Not one for shying away from controversy, Mary also discusses her struggles closer to home while fighting for political change in Ireland and how she’s proud of the Ireland that exists today.

Episode 33 - Morten B. Tidemann

Holed up in a small Nordic city, a disruptive genius develops a robot lawyer designed to methodically take over the Norwegian legal industry. But this isn't a synopsis for the next big Scandi thriller – it's the latest episode of The Hearing.

This week's guest, Morten Tidemann, flew in from Stavanger in Norway. He's best known for the innovative methods he's using to disrupt the business of law. Morten sits down with Kevin to discuss the efficiency savings enabled by his robot lawyer 'Ida' – around document assembly for legal, as well as business transactions and processes.

The pair also chat about Nordic noir TV, alternative fee arrangements, the stigma of low-cost legal services, and why lawyers tend to be so risk-averse when it comes to tech adoption.

Episode 32 - Brie Stevens-Hoare QC

In this episode we meet a woman who describes herself as a thrill seeking, motorbiking, bungee jumping, feminist, activist and pansexual.

From that intro, who would have thought we'd be speaking to a top QC? This week, Kevin catches up with good friend Brie Stevens-Hoare. And, after 5 minutes of listening, it will feel like you've known Brie for years too.

Not one for conforming or seeking accolades, Brie gives a funny, honest and emotional take on her road to becoming a silk. She also opens up about her struggle with 'imposter syndrome' and feeling like an outsider within the profession. Make sure you listen out for Brie's tale about lending Lord Neuberger her watch!

Episode 31 - Cherie Blair CBE QC

The one question we wanted to know when we sat down with our latest high-profile guest was whether it was BLAIR or BOOTH? No second guessing as to who we’re speaking about. Yes, our latest guest on The Hearing podcast is barrister, lecturer, writer, Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy, and former resident of 10 Downing Street, Cherie Blair (Booth). Kevin heads across to leafy Marylebone to sit down with Cherie, where she shares a number anecdotes from her life and career. A few highlights include: overcoming the gender imbalance during the 70’s and 80‘s at the Bar, putting aside her ambition of becoming High Court Judge when her husband became PM, and how she dragged herself to court just 10 days after a caesarean. During their conversation, Cherie’s love for the law is obvious. Whether it’s her continued international legal and advisory work, mentoring the next generation of lawyers, or discussing Lord Derry Irvine’s love for Pugin wallpaper, she maintains the same level of enthusiasm as she had when she started 40 years ago. And with so many plans in place and work to do, there is no sign of her slowing down.

Episode 30 - Alex Aldridge (Legal Cheek)

Before our Kevin was the high-profile, polished podcaster he is today, he cut his teeth co-hosting a pioneering and often controversial weekly podcast with our latest guest. Often equated to the Popbitch of law, everyone knows Legal Cheek – as it's the most read legal website in the UK. But does everyone know the man behind it?

In the final episode of season 3, Kevin catches up with Legal Cheek's founder Alex Aldridge to reminisce about those early days of blogging and podcasting, that led on to the website we know and love today. The pair also trade stories about the wild west beginnings of social media, discuss the impact of greater self-awareness on today's legal figures, and debate which law firms have the best biscuits.

Fortunately/unfortunately (depending on your point of view) this meeting didn't include the now infamous pre-recording pub sessions of Alex and Kevin's early podcasting careers.

Episode 29 - Rowena Samarasinhe (Level)

When your job involves advising UEFA, taking photos with Usain Bolt and guiding the next generation of sports stars, you know you're onto a good thing. With a career spanning football, swimming, athletics, volleyball and the Olympics, Rowena Samarasinhe is a sports-loving lawyer, living a sports lover's dream. Kevin caught up with Rowena, who's now a partner at Level – a niche sports, media and technology law firm – to discuss the business of sport. She spills the beans on how she's managed to combine her love of law with her life's other passion, and what it's like working with some of the biggest athletes and organisations on the planet. Rowena also shares tips for any budding sports lawyers keen for a slice of the action.

Episode 28 - Lara Bazelon

Imagine being wrongfully accused of a crime you didn't commit. Being snatched from the life you know and sentenced for a lifetime. Knowing you're innocent and having to fight with yourself and those arguing against you, every single day. This isn't a scenario from a Netflix crime series; this is real life for many. In this episode of The Hearing, Kevin sits down with Lara Bazelon, author of 'Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction'; an attorney, law professor, and advocate for social, racial and gender justice. During their conversation, Lara speaks candidly about her work defending those charged with the most serious crimes; faults with the US justice system; and how tough it can be to restore justice.

Episode 27 – Allegra Benitah (Challah Mummy)

What’s the recipe to a good podcast conversation?

Take 1 chatty Yorkshireman.

Add a former lawyer, turned celebrity chef and baker.

Stir in a pinch of celebrity parent.

Season with some work, life and children.

And bake for 40 minutes.

This week, Kevin joins Allegra Benitah, also known as celebrity baker Challah Mummy, in her kitchen, for a cup of tea and a taste of Challah.

The daughter of TV and radio personality Vanessa Feltz, Allegra has forged her own successful career. A champion for healthy work-life balance, she speaks about her decision to leave a high-flying legal career to build a new life, allowing her to focus on spending more time with her family and on her baking passions.

Watch out Mary Berry!

Episode 26 – Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP

Why are there so many lawyers in parliament? Because lawyers are articulate? They understand the law? Have had varied life and professional experience? Are confident public speakers?

Our latest guest has all of these attributes and more.

In episode 26, Kevin sits down with the Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP, where they discuss Britain’s political culture, character education, equality and breaking glass ceilings, the responsibility we all have when using social media, and the damaging impact Brexit is having on our national psyche.

Episode 25 - Laura King & Tiernan Brady (Clifford Chance)

When Laura King hired Tiernan Brady to champion diversity and inclusion at Clifford Chance, she hired a campaigning rockstar. With stadium-sized successes under his belt in the marriage equality referendums in Ireland and Australia, Tiernan came with an enviable reputation and a work ethic to match. And, as one of the first female partners at Clifford Chance, Laura has already lead the charge for change.

Laura is now Global Head of People & Talent at Clifford Chance, while Tiernan is their first Global Head of Inclusion. And together this duo are making some big cultural waves. That's right – this interview is a 50/50 split. How's that for equality?

Episode 24 - Anna Heslop (ClientEarth)

When Extinction Rebellion took over Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, they were doing so in the clean air of London's Ultra Low Emission Zone. And for that, they have Anna Heslop and the work of ClientEarth to thank. You see, while some take direct action in pursuit of preserving our small blue dot, others (like Anna) use the law – working with lawmakers, governments and manufacturers to help protect and improve the environment.

Anna clearly loves her job, and she goes about it with a dedication and passion we should all be thankful for. You may have already seen her on TV, or heard her on the Today Programme. Now's your chance to get to know her a little better. Listen in as she talks to our Kevin about everything from Brexit, to a surprising lack of thank you letters from bison.

Episode 23 - Chris Lochery (Popbitch) and Duncan Lamont (Charles Russell Speechlys)

Naming no names, which host of a well-known legal podcast was recently seen disappearing through a suspicious-looking black door in London's seedy Soho?

We'd hate to start scurrilous rumours, but our secret sources tell us that this natty dressing, spec wearing, Yorkshire Tea drinker was heard discussing all manner of smut, celebrity gossip, the Leveson Inquiry, super-injunctions, defamation, copyright and scandal – with weekly digital icon of rumour, humour and innuendo, Popbitch.

Luckily we've obtained a recording of what happened. Popbitch's Chris Lochery and Duncan Lamont, from Charles Russell Speechlys, talk candidly about what it's like to walk the legal tightrope. Let's keep it between ourselves who the other person is though, ok?

Episode 22 - Shauneen Lambe

This week's episode is a matter of life and death. It's bursting with Shauneen Lambe's stories of youth, activism and rebellion; and includes dark tales from Belizean death camps and death row in America's Deep South.

No two journeys through a career in law are the same, but this one will stand out even if you're a dedicated listener. Shauneen has clearly found her calling in her multifaceted pursuit for justice.

This episode is a worthy listen. And in honour of Shauneen's belief in action and realising one's own potential, we suggest you do it now.

Episode 21 - Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP

The Hearing is back. And it's back with a great big Brexit bang.

Amongst the din and clatter of the chaos that has encapsulated the country, several key figures have emerged. Dominic Grieve QC is one of them. Persona non-grata for most of his own party; a hero to millions of petition-signing Remainers. This is what The Hearing does best.

Join Kevin and Dominic as they put the world to right – or wrong, depending on your point of view. Expect verbose opinions on everything from tweeting, David Cameron and the Murdochs, and of course the 'B' word.

(This episode was recorded before the recent vote of no confidence from Dominic's local party, and the associated scandal revealed by The Guardian.)

Episode 20 - Dave Rowntree

It's 1994 and a bespectacled pre-pubescent Yorkshire lad unpeels the wrapping from the new CD by Blur. He carefully places it in his mini-HiFi and presses play. PARKLIFE! Giddy with excitement, he picks up a couple of biros and tries to keep pace with the beat on his yellow legal notepad.

Fast forward 25 years and that same lad, our Kevin, is sitting across the table from the man who cracks out the beat – Dave Rowntree, the drummer from Blur. Yes, you read that right – Dave Rowntree, the drummer from Blur! He's a bona fide rockstar and a global icon. He's also a qualified lawyer and a local councillor.

Forgive us if we go weak at the knees, whoop wildly and mosh in our Doc Martens. What a closer for series 2! Pop in your headphones, press play and listen in. It doesn't get better than this. WOO HOO.

Episode 19 - Priscilla Coleman

Cannibals. Terrorists. Serial killers. Movie stars. Megastars. Musicians. Meet the person who's been in court with them all. This episode's guest is courtroom artist Priscilla Coleman. She's the public's eyes in court, and she does it all from memory.

Say 'howdy' to the Texan who spends more time at the Old Bailey than hardened criminals. Court can be weird and wonderful, and Priscilla's sketches capture it all. Listen in as she chats to our Kevin, while simultaneously drawing the scene.

Episode 18 - Catherine Mayer & Dr Ann Olivarius

Two giants of the feminist movement, one chatterbox host, and just 30 minutes to cover a lot of ground. Dear listeners, we're sorry. This week, time is not our friend.

Institutionalised discrimination, media giants, failing global icons, Trump, and the gender pay gap are just a few of the small (yeah right) topics that Kevin, Catherine Mayer and Ann Olivarius cram in. It's almost too much for one episode to cope with. Do you want more from these two guests? #metoo

Episode 17 - Millicent Grant

In the movie "When Harry met Sally", there's that famous scene in the coffee shop. "When Kevin met Millie" is definitely a less racy affair. But it's not one that holds back on the positive vibes.

Set backstage at the Women in Law conference (where she was a keynote speaker) Millicent Grant sits across the coffee shop table from our Kevin to talk about the power of saying "yes", and how her positivity and tenacity has got her to the top. Not by the conventional route. Or the route that comes with money, privilege and good grades. Millie's route was inspired by a photo of her uncle in his barrister's cloak and wig. First it took her to secretarial college, then on to becoming a Legal Executive, and eventually to becoming the first female and first black president of CILEx.

Now it's your turn to bang the table and whoop with delight. Listen in today!

Episode 16 - S Chelvan

Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear gowns. Few guests on The Hearing could legitimately claim to be a lifesaver. But in episode 16, Kevin meets a man who is precisely that.

S Chelvan stands as a reminder of why those who work in the law got into it in the first place. Uphold justice. Protect the innocent. Change lives.

Personal, thought-provoking, honest and blunt, Chelvan takes Kevin through everything from his Sri Lankan roots and his homosexuality through to his activism and trouble-making, and how that makes you one of the UK's leading human rights and discrimination barristers.

But what does the S stand for? Superhero perhaps.

Episode 15 - Barry Matthews

'Kids from council estates don't go to university and don't become lawyers.'  When Barry Matthews sat down with his careers adviser at 17 and said he wanted to study law, that's exactly the response he got.  Now ITV's top lawyer, Barry is determined to kill off this stereotype.  Barry's modest beginnings have been the driving force behind the Social Mobility Business Partnership.  SMBP has provided work insight, skills training and coaching to hundreds of under-privileged students throughout nine cities, promoting social mobility in the legal and accountancy professions.  As well as discussing corporate social responsibility, Barry chats to Kevin about nights out with the Cheeky Girls, the power of a free beer and the ethics of modern day television.

Episode 14 - David Kerr

The last 10 years have been phenomenal for Bird & Bird – with a keen and fruitful programme of global expansion. And this is in no small part to the firm's hard-working CEO, David Kerr.

Kevin sits down with David to discuss his 22 years at the helm. Bird & Bird may have a history dating back to 1846, but it has innovation at its core. How does David feel about getting into bed with China? And just how important is Silicon Valley? This episode sees us on the top floor of Bird & Bird's new Fetter Lane offices, pondering life in charge.

Episode 13 - Miriam González Durántez

Michelle. Melania. Herr Merkel. If (big if) there was a "Political First Partners" WhatsApp group, they'd be there. And until October 2018, so would Miriam. But her husband has gone to Facebook to be their new Head of Global Affairs and Communications and she has (metaphorically) left the group.

This week, Kevin says a great big "hola" to Miriam González Durántez. Not Mrs Clegg. By day she's an international trade rights lawyer. By night she's chief championeer of young girls' rights through her brainchild inspiringgirls.org.

Brexit, Henderson's Relish, cooking blogs, and a future where Nick could join the aforementioned mythical WhatsApp group – this episode has got it all. As a Yorkshireman would say, "de nada".

Episode 12 – Charlotte Proudman

Before the #MeToo movement, publicly speaking out against sexual harassment was a much riskier exercise. Calling out behaviour could find you isolated and even alienated in certain industries, both professionally and personally. Despite these risks, that's exactly what our latest guest did – challenging a senior solicitor over a now infamous message he sent via LinkedIn.

In episode 12 of The Hearing, barrister and self-proclaimed feminist Charlotte Proudman sits down with Kevin to speak about how she dealt with her face being splashed across the front pages, being trolled by keyboard warriors and even being labelled a 'feminazi'. Charlotte and Kevin also cover the feminist movement, gender parity, women's only events, her 'inspiration' Catharine MacKinnon, and the difficult subject of disclosure around rape cases.

Episode 11 – Jonathan Goldberg QC

He's a controversial, no holds barred, opinionated, orator who defends the guilty and loves a good cup of Yorkshire tea. No, we're not talking about Kevin.

In The Hearing's series 2 opener, Jonathan Goldberg QC invites us into a world of colourful characters and rogues. Not one to be backward about coming forward, Jonathan lets rip on the state of the "groaning and creaking criminal justice system", the incompetence of solicitors, and the lavish and unnecessary spending on champagne and lunches at the Bar.

With more stories than a skyscraper, Jonathan rattles through everything from Hillsborough, Royal Marine A and defending "the charming" Charlie Kray. It's time to meet the man who takes on the task of defending the guilty. "I'm just a mouthpiece. I'm not the judge and jury, I'm the advocate." He's certainly no wallflower.

Get your ears around this today.

As you might expect, this episode contains language that some may find inappropriate.

Episode 10 – Karen Jackson

Karen Jackson is an inspirational lover of problem-solving, passionate for French and a self-styled protector of the underdog. In this episode Kevin meets the founder of didlaw, one of the UK's leading disability discrimination practices.

A former City trader, Karen talks candidly about the roundabout route she took into law and how a heart transplant helped guide her to a new path – setting up her own practice that's focused on challenging mental health, disability and illness discrimination.

Episode 09 – Dean Strang

Fans of the hugely popular Netflix documentary Making a Murderer will know this week's guest. Dean Strang was one of the defence lawyers for Steven Avery. Dean was an eloquent voice of reason throughout the series, which led to him being labelled an international sex symbol.

A modest Dean tells Kevin how he first got involved in the Avery case, and how he's dealt with the wave of media and public attention ever since. They also discuss Dean's views on the US criminal justice system, his cartoonist aspirations, and whether Dean should move to the UK to become a judge.

Episode 08 – Ayesha Vardag

The 'Diva of Divorce', Ayesha Vardag, sits down with Kevin in the luxurious Vardags offices in St. Paul's, London. They discuss Georgian mahogany, her high net-worth clientele and the Var-Bot – Ayesha's personal office robot that'll be familiar to fans of The Good Wife.

During her divorce, Ayesha had an Erin Brockovich-esque transition from commercial to family law, which ultimately led to her being offered a job by the lawyer who managed her case. This episode looks at the impact Ayesha's cases and campaigning have had on family law reform, and it offers an exciting behind-the-scenes look at one of the UK's fastest growing law firms.

Episode 07 - Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clark

In this episode, Tory MP Ken Clarke reveals why he has occasionally dressed up in women’s underwear. The former Lord Chancellor and current Father of the House of Commons also tells Kevin what he thinks of his new-found fans – drawn by his outspoken views on Brexit.

This episode won't disappoint.  The pair also discuss: pressure to modify Ken's Nottinghamshire accent; attending Rushcliffe beauty parades for column inches; death threats; selfies; and Trump (the president, not the inflatable baby).

Episode 06 - Yasmin Sheikh

In this episode Kevin is joined by Yasmin Sheikh. Yasmin is the founder of Diverse Matters, vice-chair of the Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division, consultant, coach, actress, comedian and TEDx speaker. 

During their conversation, Yasmin talks about her experience of being thrown into the world of disability overnight and the daily challenges she faces. Yasmin also discusses the impactful work she's doing with law firms, advising about disability related issues in an effort to improve communication, visibility and opportunities.


Episode 05 - Sir Rupert Jackson

In this episode Kevin is joined by Sir Rupert Jackson, Barrister, Lord Justice of Appeal and legal reformer.

As well as his infamous reform of civil litigation costs, Rupert has authored some of the industry's leading texts during his 50 year career. Now, back at the bar, he talks through the fresh challenges facing lawyers and discusses his new role as a Justice in the AIFC Court and International Arbitration Centre in Kazakhstan.

Episode 04 – Robin White

In this episode Kevin is joined by barrister Robin White.  Robin was the first barrister to transition from male to female while in practice at the employment and discrimination bar.  They chat about Robin's early life and career, and how dealing with personal discrimination in her late twenties became a catalyst for a career change into law. 

Now specialising in transgender rights, Robin offers a candid insight into her experience.  She discusses the current issues that surround gender-transformation, as well as general workplace and social discrimination in Britain today.

Episode 03 - Lord Michael Michael Howard of Lympne

In this episode Kevin is joined by Lord Michael Howard of Lympe. Although best known for his time as a Government Minister and as a former leader of the Tories, Michael’s life before Westminster involved a distinguished career at the Bar. As a vocal supporter of the 'Leave Means Leave' campaign, Michael's views on Brexit are crystal-clear but we also hear he has some personal regret over one of his most controversial ministerial decisions.

Episode 02 - Joe Raczynski

In this episode Kevin is joined by 'futurist' Joe Raczynski (@joerazz). You'll hear Joe explain what his job actually is and why we should all pay attention to cyber security. As an expert in legal technology and AI, we also explore the rise of blockchain and crypto currencies, the challenges for driverless cars and the future of the robot lawyer.

Episode 01 – Dame Fiona Woolf

In the inaugural episode of The Hearing – a legal podcast from Thomson Reuters, Kevin is joined by Dame Fiona Woolf. During their conversation they reflect on Fiona’s fascinating career, including her time as president of the Law Society, and as Lord Mayor of London. Kevin and Fiona also chat about Fiona’s ongoing work in promoting diversity and inclusion with the Power of Diversity programme. Listen out for Dame Fiona’s incredible anecdote on how Carrie Morrison became the first female to be put on the roll.

About Us

For over 200 years Thomson Reuters has been advancing the art and science of law. Whether through the most up-to-date legal content, driving innovative legal technology, or ground-breaking thought leadership, Thomson Reuters provides legal professionals across the world with the confidence to act. Find out more at legal-solutions.co.uk.


Listen to The Hearing

About Kevin

The Hearing podcast is hosted by British lawyer Kevin Poulter (@kevinpoulter). Kevin is a partner in the London office of national law firm Freeths, advising corporate and employee clients on a broad range of employment matters. Kevin regularly appears in the press and broadcast media and is a regular feature on a number of television and radio shows.