In the summer of 1999, James attended the Sutton Trust Summer School programme, studying law for a week at Oxford University. He grew up on a council estate in Ewell, while his mother was a hospital receptionist and his father worked as a part-time barman and part-time security employee. He attended his local comprehensive school, where he was on free school meals. The Sutton Trust Summer School was James’ first experience of both Oxford and law, and it was a week that changed his life. He applied to Oxford the following autumn, as the first of his family’s generation to go to university and went on to obtain a First in Law and then a Distinction in his Masters (BCL).
“The Sutton Trust Summer School was one of the most formative experiences of my life, and had a huge impact on me… One of the nicest things about the week was meeting like-minded people. It was great to meet people with similar experiences to me, and not feel the odd one out.
My main memory is that the Summer School was good at breaking down barriers. It made you feel comfortable within the Oxford setting and it drove my ambition and let me know that I could achieve it.”
James is now currently a commercial barrister at Fountain Court Chambers, and a Sutton Trust donor, keen to give back through the Fellowship to help others from non-privileged backgrounds to fulfil their potential and gain life-changing experiences.
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“I think it is important that the Trust keeps on growing the alumni programme to utilise the people in their network – I didn’t have role models in professions when I was growing up and they’re so valuable.
What the Trust do is really fantastic, it’s really close to my heart. From being underprivileged to going to a college that is really privileged… the things I learnt and studied in that week were things I brought up in my interview. I support the Trust because I really want other people to benefit from it.”