At #YesSheCan we are very fortunate to speak to Laisha Johnson, a trainee Barrister and Miss Universe GB 2020 finalist. We chatted to her about her career plans and, the challenges she has faced, and what drives her to succeed.
“I wanted to grab hold of every opportunity that I had been presented with so that I could grow both personally and professionally.”
I am an incoming barrister specialising in human rights, public law and intellectual property. Outside of law, I am passionate about helping others and commit a lot of time to charity work. I am also a finalist in Miss Universe Great Britain 2020 which is a platform I intend to use to share my passion, be an inspiration and work to make a positive impact in the lives of others, which is what drives me day to day.
Why did you want to become a Barrister?
I chose this career because I wanted to be an advocate, I wanted to support other people who don’t have a voice, or don’t know their rights. I get to communicate what’s in their best interest to those who have the power to make change. I get to remind individuals of their rights and provide one to one support and encouragement because having to go to court is not an easy experience.
How did you get to where you are now and did you face any challenges along the way?
It took me 6 years in total to get to where I am today. I started off on a foundation degree course in law for 2 years at a college in Nottingham and then moved on to Nottingham Trent University for a further 2 years to gain my law degree. It was an unusual route but it was what I had to do at the time. After gaining my law degree, I completed my master’s degree in intellectual property law.
“I found it difficult to concentrate and to stay on top of my workload.”
I have faced numerous challenges during my studies. I have questioned my ability to work in the legal profession and doubted many times if I would even complete my studies. I struggled with my mental health and found it difficult to concentrate and to stay on top of my workload. One thing that kept me going is keeping in mind the reason why I wanted to become a barrister. This allowed me to keep my eyes fixed on the end goal I had set for myself.
How did you overcome those setback and challenges?
I had to learn how to believe in myself. I learned to set mini goals on a day-to-day basis and at the end of the week, look back and see what progress I had made. This encouraged me to keep going. I learned to treat myself after I had made even a little bit of progress and to take life one day at a time.
Practicing self-love daily taught me not to be so hard on myself and helped me to understand that I learn and operate differently to others and that’s okay. I am a lot more patient and understanding with myself and ultimately, I am more likely to have the same approach when I connect with different people.
“I learn and operate differently to others and that’s okay”
As far as I can remember, I have always had the drive to be successful and do great things. As I got older, I wanted to grab hold of every opportunity that I had been presented with so that I could grow both personally and professionally. Over the years, my determination grew because of hardship. I think that when you encounter setbacks, it is important not to allow them to diminish the vision that you have for your life. But instead, use those setbacks as the catalyst that will push and motivate you to overcome that which you thought you never could.
What is your biggest achievement in life so far?
My biggest achievement in life so far would have to be when I started a business at 17 and managed it for 7 years. During that time, I had learned so much about myself, developed a strong work ethic and set myself up to succeed in life. I had achieved running a business whilst in full-time education and although it wasn’t easy, I now know that with hard work and determination, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
“Let your passion be greater than fear.”
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?
The fear of failure is only as real as you allow it to be. Let your passion be greater than fear.
Do you have a mantra you live your life by?
The best is yet to come!
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
Read, read and read – knowledge is power!
What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given?
The journey is just as important as the destination itself. It is the things you learn along the way that build your character.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
One woman who has impacted my life is my mother. She has taught me how to be tough in the face of adversity and to keep going despite the feeling of giving up. She is a single mother of 4 and has always supported me in my endeavours.
“Don’t just meet the criteria, exceed it”
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Don’t just meet the criteria, exceed it. You are more than capable to take up space and to lead a business, a community, a nation. It’s not about proving your character and your abilities to anyone. It’s about being the person of excellence you know you already are, with or without the door of opportunity standing right in front of you.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best piece of advice I have been given is that whenever I get tired, whether emotionally, physically or mentally, I must learn to rest, not quit. Spending time away from my work helps my mind to gain a new perspective and I find that when I return to my work, I am in a better position to continue.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
If I could speak to my 16-year-old self, I would say something like this:
You are special. You are beautiful. You are strong. Focus your mind on where you are going and not on what is happening around me. Vision is key. Do not put so much pressure on yourself! Take your time, learn from your mistakes and keep on going. It does not matter what other people think of you. Start seeing yourself for who you truly are and the people who are connected to you will find their way into your life.”
Thank you Laisha, some really powerful points raised! Laisha will be featured in a video blog charting her career and Miss Universe GB progress – we can’t wait for you to see it!
If you would like to read more inspiring stories, click here!!