Court is in Recess

Katy Martley (Criminal Litigation, 2012) crossed continents to attain the qualification that would lead to her career as a Crown Prosecutor, and now she’s taking a break! Read Katy’s story to find out why she adjourned her legal career.

So you moved from New Zealand to study at City, what was that like?

I was a Government Prosecutor and wanted to move into jury trial work in serious crime and I knew that a masters degree would assist with that goal.  I googled ‘masters and criminal litigation’ and City popped up. I had been looking for something more local but the course at City was absolutely perfect so I moved to London with my three-year-old daughter while my husband took a contract in Australia to pay the bills. But City made it so easy for me. The administrators were so helpful and once I arrived everyone was really welcoming and really amazing.

I knuckled down and studied a lot – I was there to do a job. I went to the library a lot. I more or less stayed in the Law School, everything I needed was there. And I loved being enveloped by the buzz of the legal world around us. I was at campus two days per week and had to do all of my actual study work there or in the evenings after my daughter had gone to bed. It was quite a juggle and I would write my dissertation after dinner. But the tutors and lecturers were so supportive and really flexible.

What happened after City?

I returned to my job in New Zealand as they had been holding it open for me. I actually received a promotion as a result of my masters. I had another baby, another girl. Then I got a job as a crown prosecutor and now I’m having a career break from law to do full-time philanthropy work and volunteering.

What prompted the change?

As a crown prosecutor I was seeing a lot of youth who were offending but I couldn’t affect change because I was constrained by the system. I wanted to make a real difference and so I had to remove myself from the system. Now I volunteer with Te Aranui Youth Trust, working with primary school aged children and at risk youth, and Good Neighbour Trust which has a food rescue service and redistributes seven tonnes of food per week to over 50 different charities.

This year I’m also involved in a big annual fundraiser and will be organising a ladies’ luncheon, with a celebrity chef from New Zealand, for 300 women!

Volunteering is amazing and very rewarding. It also means I have the flexibility to spend more time with my children and family, attending sports and school events.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Making the decision to leave law for a bit. I have worked for over a decade, all for the purpose of my career and deciding ‘am I really going to let this go?’ was the single hardest decision I’ve had to make.

What has been the most rewarding?

Realising that my knowledge, skills and talents are transferable. That has allowed me to let go of law for a while.

Any advice?

With regards to higher education, don’t think about it, just apply to do it. Don’t think too much about the end gain, just think about the knowledge and skills you will acquire that will be helpful no matter which career path you take.

And if you’re thinking about a career change – trust your instincts.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: The Old Bailey
Favourite holiday destination: Vanuata
Must check every day website:
Dream holiday destination: Venice
Cheese or chocolate: cheese