Meet Lidia Beqiraj, a beacon of resilience and ambition in the legal landscape, whose journey from the vibrant culture of Albania to the esteemed Bar of England & Wales is a narrative of perseverance, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of justice. Recently called to the Bar, Lidia’s path is marked by significant academic achievements, a deep commitment to community, and a passion for family law.

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In this candid Q&A, Lidia shares her experiences, the hurdles she’s overcome, and the aspirations that fuel her forward.

Join us as we delve into the story of a remarkable individual whose voice is as powerful in the courtroom as it is in advocating for broader access to justice.

Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in law, especially as a barrister?

My family and I moved here when I was a child and naturally, like many others, struggled with language barriers, a different education system, and even the legal system here. I believe my background is a large influence as to why I chose to pursue a career in law. Being a voice for people who sometimes feel powerless, especially in family law, is something I find incredibly enriching and so, a career at the Bar felt like a natural choice.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced on your journey to becoming a barrister, and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was financing my way to the Bar. The Bar Course is by no means an inexpensive course. It can range from £11 – 18k depending on the location and providers, and so my concern was being able to fund that. I applied for a bar course scholarship from Middle Temple, that would fund my fees if successful. I drafted (and redrafted several times) a substantial paper application and then interviewed in front of a judge and two senior barristers. I was fortunate enough to have been awarded the Harmsworth Scholarship, and not worry about my fees.

One of my other challenges was being able to find a consistent mentor at the Bar. I am lucky now to have a few mentors however that took investment of my time and energy, and also theirs, for which I am very grateful. When looking for a mentor, its important to remember it is a two-way street – they are ultimately giving up free time to help you, and so the least you can do is be enthusiastic and ensure you are taking initiative, rather than asking your mentor questions that you could easily find answers to on Google for example.

How has your Albanian heritage and moving to the UK at a young age influenced your career path and aspirations?

I believe my strong work ethic in terms of my career largely stems from my heritage. I grew up in a home where I was always pushed to work hard to achieve what I wanted in life. Despite our lack of resources, I never felt my career goals were impossible, and that is thanks to my family and community. Coming from a different country has encouraged me to aim higher. I do not believe in a ‘ceiling’.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment or milestone in your legal education or early career?

For me, my Call to the Bar was a milestone I will never forget. I was Called in November 2023 at Middle Temple in London, with my family there in attendance. It felt like a monumental day, that all my hard work led to. Seeing the history of the Inn and all those who have been Called before me, was a surreal experience! I was also honoured to wear my wig and gown in front of other senior barristers and benchers of the Inn.

How did you feel when you were awarded the Harmsworth Scholarship, and what did it mean for your journey?

I was overjoyed, to say the least. I remember receiving the email at 3:42pm on a random Tuesday afternoon in June 2022. I immediately burst into tears! The Harmsworth Scholarship was not just a financial burden I was relieved of, but it was a massive vote of confidence. I had convinced a panel of judges and barristers to believe in my future as an advocate. Having that confirmation from such renowned and experienced practitioners, only made me feel more assured about my future at the Bar.

What advice would you give to aspiring barristers, particularly those from diverse or international backgrounds?

My advice would be to find a mentor from a similar background to you who fits what you want to achieve in your career – this is important because they can serve as a real example of what you can achieve, and that will greatly assist you in moments where you may feel hopeless. Otherwise, persevere and don’t give up! It is rare for anybody to succeed on their first try, especially in such a competitive field.

Are there any specific experiences or individuals that have been particularly influential in your pursuit of a legal career?

My year abroad in America was very influential in my pursuit of a legal career. I not only learned a great deal about an entirely different jurisdiction, but I was actively involved in public speaking events, and even had an internship at a local law firm with an attorney whom I learned a lot from. I realised how much I enjoyed oral advocacy, and this what swayed me towards pursuing a career as a barrister.

How do you balance your professional ambitions with your personal interests and hobbies outside of law?

Whilst it’s not possible to always have the perfect balance between work and life (I’m sure we are all guilty of that), I very much try to compartmentalise, i.e. when I am not at work, I am intentional about doing things that I enjoy. Some of my interests overlap with my professional ambitions, for instance my volunteering with certain organisations.  I am of course, willing to give up free time to advance my professional goals where necessary, as these are just necessary sacrifices that we all make.

What are your hopes and plans for your future career, especially in relation to family law and access to justice?

My hopes are to become a respected family barrister, and maybe even practice beyond England one day. I would like to see and, in some way, contribute to, steps being taken to improve access to justice, particularly for those most vulnerable.  Whether that is in the capacity of advocating in a courtroom, or campaigning for reform, I will be content with knowing I have made an impact, even in a small way.

Lastly, could you share a bit about what participating in the ALSA and hosting the ‘Law 101’ workshop meant to you personally and professionally?

Being a member and volunteer with ALSA has been a true joy. I feel truly fulfilled to work with talented people in my community, who all care profoundly about advancing our members’ education and career development. Hosting the Law 101 workshop was wonderful in two ways – firstly, I was able to see how other Albanian students and professionals benefited from the event, and secondly, seeing how our panels enjoyed interacting with fellow members. One of the panellists messaged me after the event to tell me how amazing the audience (members) were, and how much she loved their enthusiasm. It is this which brings me the most joy, personally and professionally.

Lidia Beqiraj’s story is more than a personal triumph; it’s a testament to the power of hard work, the importance of mentorship, and the impact of staying true to one’s roots and values. Through her journey, Lidia not only aims to excel within the legal profession but also to inspire and pave the way for others from diverse backgrounds to pursue their dreams in law.

Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her personal growth reflects the ethos we cherish here at our firm. Lidia’s narrative is a vivid reminder that the path to success is both challenging and rewarding, and it is the diverse voices like hers that enrich and strengthen the fabric of the legal community.

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