Joshua Rozenberg Returns

Date Published: 17.05.2022

Part of the 2022 Giving Day series, and hosted by two current law students, Joshua answers questions about his career.

Joshua Rozenberg QC (hon) studied Jurisprudence at Wadham in the late 60s. He had no prior background in law. No family members were lawyers. His father barely had any secondary school education.

Why law, then?

“I hadn’t done badly at it at school. Because, of course, I hadn’t done it at school.”

It’s not his only self-deprecating joke of the evening.

Joshua returns to Wadham as Britain’s most experienced full-time legal commentator. Part of the 2022 Giving Day series, and hosted by two current law students, Karishma and Jenny, he answers questions about his career.

"When opportunities get offered to you, take them."

“When opportunities get offered to you, take them.” He appeals to this philosophy to explain his shift from solicitor to journalist. The offer of a training course at the BBC came up while he was working for a firm in Surrey. He reasoned: “I know what will happen to me if I continue as a solicitor. I don’t know what will happen to me if I join the BBC unless I join the BBC.” So he joined the BBC.

He does confess, however, that this advice has not always worked. “When opportunities get offered to you, don’t take them,” he laughs, explaining why he regretted leaving the BBC for newspapers.

Joshua’s more settled on the injunction to “read as much as possible.” This he impresses on the room of law students. It stems from his sense that he only really knew how to study law properly once the time was up. “Read cases. Read and read and read: try to understand how the judgment is formed.”

“Of course, if Jeffrey had been my tutor, I would have learned a lot more,” he adds, smiling. Jeffrey Hackney, Emeritus Fellow in Law, sits opposite. Also present is Laura Hoyano, Emeritus Professor of Law, who makes the all-important point about employability after graduation, and how Wadham tutors and the Wadham College Law Society can offer students a wealth of information and contacts.

Joshua’s asked about the challenges he faced in producing the long-running Law in Action radio show/podcast. “The main challenge was the Bakerloo line,” he answers. In the 80s, the programme was recorded in the sub-basement of Broadcasting House, which was close to the underground. You had to pause recordings when the trains went past.

"The main challenge was the Bakerloo line."

But he adds that another significant problem was getting judges to talk. Judges didn’t give interviews. One lawyer told him that the prospect of being interviewed was worse than going to the dentist. “Why are you, someone who presents in front of a court, scared of talking to me?” Joshua had asked. The simple answer was: he hadn’t done it before.

Before the end of the event, Joshua fields questions on the International Criminal Court, plans for a new UK bill of rights – “I want to know if it exists; I’m not sure it does,” Joshua replies – and whether post-graduate education in law is worth it (generally, yes, is his answer).

As dinner approaches, the hosts wrap up the event. Director of Development, Julie Hage, thanks Joshua for giving back to Wadham by sharing his expertise and insights so generously with current students. “Pleasure to be here,” he replies.

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