REVIEWS & PRESS
The Mail on Sunday, January Paperbacks
6 January 2019
“Sarah Langford is a practising criminal barrister, and in this eye-opening book she describes 11 case history is drawn from her own experience to paint and illuminating warts-and-all portrait of the law in action. These aren’t the kind of cases to make the news, but Langford cares passionately about her clients and shows us the rarely reported human face of the law.”
The Times, Saturday Review, January Paperbacks
5 January 2019
Criminal barrister Sarah Langford uses 11 court cases to give a first hand account of how the law does and doesn't work.
The Times Books, Critics' Books of 2018
15 December 2018
“I decided to dip into In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford, and ended up reading it from cover to cover. Langford is a criminal barrister, but this is neither a lawyer’s book for lawyers nor a “courtroom drama“ exercise for non-lawyers, though courtroom drama there is. Instead she takes real case studies from her career – neither famous nor infamous trials, just the sad daily fair that is the bread-and-butter of a jobbing defence barrister – and tells her clients’ stories. She describes her own feelings too, at the tangled mess her clients make of their lives. These pictures are infinitely touching.”
The Sunday Times, Books of the Year 2018
24 November 2018
“Sarah Langford's book gives you the unromantic truth about life as a criminal barrister. In each chapter, she takes a case she was involved with to shed light on the way the law is practised in this country. However, for instance, does a court deal with a child who has been brainwashed into believing his mother is evil? Gripping.”
The Spectator Books of the Year 2018
17 November 2018
"The law is endlessly fascinating, in its history, rituals, manners, language and, above all, the people whose lives revolve, temporarily or in the long term, around its practise. ‘In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law’ by the barrister Sarah Langford (Doubleday, £16.99) tells the stories of some of those caught up in its complex workings. It is riveting – and quite alarming."
Books of 2018: The New Statesman
14 November 2018
"I greatly enjoyed Sarah Langford’s In Your Defence (Doubleday), an insider’s account of life as a barrister. Justice and the law provide the lens: the subject is really human nature."
The Times Literary Supplement
5 September 2018
"Her facility with language makes this, her first book, breezy and congenial, but it is also passionate and, in places, personal."
24th August 2018
This is an absolutely fascinating insider account of life at the bar by defence barrister Sarah Langford, told, with a novelist’s eye, through the stories of 11 ordinary people she’s defended. As Langford journeys through and challenges her own unconscious bias, she’ll make you take a long hard – and not entirely comfortable – look at your own.
The Financial Times
21st August 2018
"How the quest for justice is a messy affair. A series of case histories challenges us to grapple with the complexities of the law"
The Times Law: Best Summer Reads
2 August 2018
Felicity Gerry, QC
“In stark contrast, Sarah Langford’s first book, In Your Defence, is a delightfully written series of short accounts of individuals caught up in the justice system, with an exploration of the dedication of the junior barrister representing them. She exemplifies what Susskind fails to capture: “The law is about humanity. It is the thousand little flecks of perception and judgement that spins through the air in a court room, across language and class and gender. It is the reason we do not try cases on paper alone, but instead insist on holding up living, breathing flesh, and testing each side with equal strength.“
15th July 2018
"This is no typical legal memoir. Against the backdrop of a justice system in crisis, Sarah Langford guides readers through 11 cases demonstrating the workings and failings of the underfunded, overburdened criminal and family courts, laying bare the impact of successive funding cuts that undermine justice for victims and defendants and severely reduce access to the family courts for those without means. Inevitable comparison will be made with the Secret Barrister’s exposé of the crumbling justice system, Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken, but here the human tales of “heartache and humour, of high drama and quiet pain” take centre stage.
Didactic, but with a lightness of touch, Langford seamlessly weaves exposition of the law’s process and procedure and the everyday rituals and routines of barristers with the gripping storylines of her clients."
The Sunday Times
The Literary Review
16th June 2018
"In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford — the trials of a barrister. A roving lawyer paints a vivid picture of the courts at work"
1st July 2018
"In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford — compelling human stories from the dock. A barrister’s stories of her cases reads like the best fiction"
Court in the Headlights: In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford
"This compelling book tracks eleven cases through the criminal and family courts. Only, they’re not simply cases. They’re stories of flesh and blood, of people – tales of despair and hope that could be about you or me. Sarah Langford’s stated objective is to bring ‘to life ideas which otherwise so often appear in abstract: fairness, justice, truth’. The result is a resounding and thought-provoking success.
Woven into these insightful and often haunting narratives we find both memoir (charting Langford’s progress from innocence to experience) and commentary (social, political and – with a light touch – jurisprudential), the whole constituting a travelogue through the contemporary legal landscape. Our perceptive guide drags her trusty wheelie bag from court to court, rising early, returning late, her mind forever on ‘someone else’s hell translated into tomorrow’s job’. Langford starts her journey as a single woman; she ends it married and soon to be a mother. Between times she has been changed. And, over the course of her book, so are we."
7th July 2018
"Setting the bar too high"
"The book is by turns heartbreaking and hopeful, and succeeds in giving an articulate, compassionate voice to those who would otherwise struggle to be heard.
The prose is engrossing, and the book is only too easy to devour in great gulps."
Sunday Express Magazine
17 June 2018
“By her own admission....Sarah Langford is no stereotypical barrister. Yet it is hard to imagine a better written or more insightful account of life at the bar than this. Sarah Langford brings alive the cases of 11 people she represented in court, from an 18-year-old paedophile and an abused wife to warring parents in a child custody battle. “