Last month the Law Society teamed up with Eton’s Black History Month Committee to host Yama Otung, sports lawyer and editor of LawInSport, who spoke about the challenges she faced in her transition from a poor Welsh state school to the courtroom.
Aged only 4 Yama said she dreamt “of being a white girl with blonde hair” and woke “every morning disappointed with my skin.” She suggested that the negative connotations with being Black are tangible at an early age, and only education about race in primary schools will help to achieve meaningful social change.
Through “othering” many people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds are made to feel like “they’re not from here”. As a member of a high-achieving Nigerian family, Yama reflected that her education was further hindered by the state school she attended, where “it was social suicide to do well” and she felt that her efforts went unrecognised by teachers.
In her professional career Yama read Law at the University of East Anglia and despite being tempted to follow the established path of applying to the magic circle of the five most prestigious UK law firms, she instead applied to a smaller media law firm. “No question I had more responsibility and experience than in a larger law firm,” she explained, and was able to work on many notable cases, such as the celebrity phone hacking scandal and a Russian doping investigation.
We thank Yama for her honest conversation, and her contribution to Eton’s Black History Month celebrations.