Author, data protection officer and member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, Judith Ratcliffe (PG Dip Professional Legal Skills, 2010), has had a very busy year showcasing her excellent range in writing by publishing her third children’s book, as well as a practical guide to help prevent personal data breaches and protect people from harm.
The Silver Shoes In The Land Of The Dinosaurs is the latest book in Judith’s children’s series, which started in 2015. While she was a hospital radio presenter (2007 – January 2015), she shared fun facts about The Wizard of Oz with listeners, which helped Judith to develop her own idea about a pair of silver shoes that had a mind of their own and went on fun adventures, leading to the self-publication of Miranda’s Silver Shoes and Practically Magic.
On their latest adventure, the Silver Shoes are up to their usual mischief, but this time, they may have to face some consequences for their actions. A quest for a dinosaur’s lost tooth, a riddle to solve and, of course, a nefarious villain to do battle with, are all part of this magical adventure.
Judith tells us: “Our Story Begins in a school science lab with two children making a ‘magic’ potion, instead of doing what they are meant to be doing, and a revenge spell gone wrong, which leaves our heroine, Svara, precariously dangling at the mouth of a large cave.”
While Judith has a clear passion for writing children’s books, with a background in data protection, she’s also well-equipped to write about this important subject and as such, published Privacy and Data Protection In Your Pocket: Personal Data Breaches earlier this year.
On why she wrote this practical book, Judith shares: “If people don’t know or understand the harms (and how they come about), how can they protect themselves and others from them?
“In my experience, people don’t (usually) cause personal data breaches deliberately. A lot are caused by failing to appreciate that they might hurt someone when they do particular things.”
Privacy and Data Protection In Your Pocket: Personal Data Breaches provides guidance on numerous data breaches – some that may be lesser-known but are still as serious – aiming to help readers not only acknowledge them but to also understand the reporting process.
“I consider that it is time to normalise personal data breach prevention and of course if everyone did it as they arguably should (going by data protection law standards instead of just focusing on ‘security’), then, arguably it would also boost counter-fraud and anti-financial crime efforts, and counter-terrorist efforts too. Everybody would win,” Judith explains.
Originally, Judith wrote this guide for members of the general public, cyber security and information security professionals and privacy and data protection professionals who could use a ‘quick-reference’. However, since publication, feedback has proved it’s been useful for many more, including startups, small and medium-sized businesses, and a number of legal roles and institutions. A positive review by The Law Society Gazette also identified who would find the book useful.
While Privacy and Data Protection In Your Pocket: Personal Data Breaches has a more structured and reflective approach, Judith tells us that writing The Silver Shoes In The Land Of The Dinosaurs was magical and fun.
On the process of writing both her books, Judith says: “The challenges have come more from the post-writing stages, partly because there seems to be a stigma against the self-published, unless you’re famous, in certain areas, and partly from things like ISBNs – the numbers that book sellers and libraries use to identify books, belonging to the one that buys the ISBN (even if buying on an author’s behalf), but that isn’t always apparent when you first write your book and can cause complications later.
“Top Tip: Buy a set of ISBNs yourself and give them to the printer when you send them your manuscript – then you can avoid issues later.”
Aside from exercising her writing skills, Judith has been very busy since graduating from City.
“I’ve been Called to the Bar by The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple (although I’m not a fully-fledged barrister as I haven’t yet done pupilage) and I’ve worked for a number of Government departments and their processors, as well as a number of banks and entertainment organisations,” says Judith.
The impressive list continues, as Judith shares her work on fraud and financial crime prevention, as well as privacy and data protection. Furthermore, she’s featured on a number of panel discussions, speaker sessions and webinars, and also provided written evidence to Parliament’s Scrutiny Committee and run petitions, highlighting the importance of data protection and privacy rights.
Recently, Judith wrote an opinion piece for The Law Society of Scotland Journal titled: Why we need the UK Government to commit to providing services through OFFline channels.
Reflecting on her career and how her studies have supported it, Judith tells us: “My degree was what the previously-named Bar Vocational Course had become known as by the time I did it and was therefore, a key necessary step before being Called to the Bar.”
Judith notes how the course gave her the skills and confidence to challenge wrongdoing both publicly and privately.
On why she chose City to complete her degree, Judith indicates: “It used to be the Inns of Court School of Law, and it had (arguably) the best reputation out of all Bar Vocational Course providers and close links with the Inns of Court. However, it wasn’t until I met staff and students at an open evening and also at some events, including the Carolyn Regan Lecture in 2009, that I was certain I wanted to study here.”
Looking back at her time at City, Judith shares a few standout memories, including being a student class representative, building strong relationships between students and staff and shadowing a then-eminent Junior (now an eminent King’s Counsel) to the Royal Courts of Justice, with snowflakes falling everywhere that made the atmosphere magical.
However, one particular event had a huge impact: “We were all asked to watch a crime being committed and then to look through a series of photographs and ‘identify’ a suspect. We were told that the suspect was amongst the people in the photographs.
“I remember looking at the photographs and having my doubts, but going along with what we were told i.e., it ‘must’ be one of them. Our tutor asked who we thought it was. Then, revealed that, in fact, the ‘suspect’ wasn’t among them at all.”
Judith explains that she was reminded of five key things that day and that are useful to remember:
- Trust your gut
- Beware of: What you are ‘told’ is the case
- Eyewitness identification can be problematic
- Sometimes the options given are not the only options available
- Beware of unquestioning trust/belief in the words of those in positions of authority
Thank you to Judith for sharing her new books, her career and fond City memories with us!
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