Mark Cooper

My journey to the Bar was a bit unusual because after school I read Theology at Oxford and then spent some time training to be a priest. Having realised that ministry was not where I wanted to be, I turned my hand to the law, starting as a paralegal for a commercial law firm in Birmingham. It was whilst working there that I came out to my parents on my 23rd birthday, just before I went to law school in 2007. I am very lucky because they were hugely supportive. I am not particularly religious anymore, but I did experience some negativity from people in the church after leaving and coming out, which was a shame but not altogether surprising.

At law school, my experience was the complete opposite! My law school (Manchester Law School) held regular LGBT+ social events called “The Pink Drink”, which was a lovely way to meet other LGBT+ students and staff. Since being at the Bar, I have been out and proud. I encountered a few difficulties early on, but these days my sexuality is something I rarely need to consider at work. I have served as the Equality & Diversity Officer for my chambers, during which time I organised LGBT+ events for law students and barristers, which were all well-supported by chambers. I was very proud when St Ives Chambers became the second chambers in the country to sign up to the FreeBar Charter in January 2021.