In Your Defence by Sarah Langford – Book Review

In Your Defence by Sarah Langford – Book Review

In Your Defence by Sarah Langford

In Your Defence
Stories of Life and Law

Author – Sarah Langford
Publisher – Doubleday
Pages – 320
Released – 28th June 2018
ISBN-13 – 978-0857525284
Format – ebook, paperback, hardback, audio
Reviewer – Stacey
Rating – 4 stars
I received a free copy of this book


Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours.

To work at the Bar is to enter a world shrouded by strange clothing, archaic rituals and inaccessible language. So how does it feel to be an instrument of such an unknowable system? And what does it mean to be at its mercy? Our legal system promises us justice, impartiality and fair judgement. Does it, or can it, deliver this?

With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She tells compelling stories – of domestic fall out, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law – that are sometimes shocking and often heart-stopping. She shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

Review 2017

In barrister turned author Sarah Langford’s book, ‘In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law’, we meet eleven clients that Sarah represented (or had legal dealings with) and which their stories had have stayed with her. The cases are varied and whilst some were handled in the family courts, others were serious enough to go before the Crown.

Each chapter is a new case. At the beginning, you are given the clients name, where they were tried and the law which their crime comes under. For example, the first case is that of Dominic who was tried at Oxford Magistrate Court and Oxford Crown Court. The legal issue is covered under ‘Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Section 50 – Age of Criminal Responsibility’.

Each case is unique and they were all very interesting. Some were heartbreaking, whilst others were heartwarming. The book does read like a fictional story, yet you are conscious that it is all real. You not only get to find out about the clients but also about Sarah herself too. Some stories are also truly harrowing, whilst others might have you wanting to know why Sarah would take the case on.

The book was riveting and I felt fully engaged the whole way through. I do like criminal case stories, whether real or fictional, so this book was right up my alley. It was an interesting look at the UK’s criminal justice service and how it works. I was surprised to learn how close to the court case that Sarah gets the paperwork, sometimes only a matter of hours before.

Sarah’s voice comes across so clear and she has a way of engaging the reader. The words just flowed naturally and I would love to have read about more cases as I was that intrigued in Sarah’s legal world.

Reviewed by Stacey

Purchase online from:

About the Author

Sarah Langford has been a practising barrister since 2006, both in London and around the country, principally in criminal and family law. She studied English at the University of the West of England.

She worked as a barmaid, legal secretary and note-taking clerk before completing a law conversion, in which she gained a distinction. She was awarded a scholarship from Gray’s Inn of Court and went on to train as a barrister. She lives with her husband and two small boys in London and Suffolk.

Blog posts straight to email via Bloglovin – Like us on Facebook – Follow us on Twitter

You may also like...

10 Responses

  1. Cheyenne says:

    This sounds so interesting! Great review 🙂

  2. DJ Sakata says:

    family court cases are the hardest!

  3. Tasha says:

    Great review. I would pass on this one. 🙂

  4. This sounds like my jam. I will keep a look out for it during my bookstore runs.

  5. Love, Sawyer says:

    I actually really like the sounds of this one.