Jason Pitter

Jason Pitter

We often hear it said that there is a lack of successful role models for young people living in deprived areas.

And Chapeltown in Leeds is no exception. It is one of the poorest areas in the city and has seen its fair share of riots in the 70s, 80s and then again, in August of last year.

However, despite the problems that have previously blighted the area, there are many role models in the suburb who are working to create positive changes, either through outreach work, or choosing a career which enables them to help others.

One such role model is Jason Pitter, a self-employed barrister from Chapeltown who has been working in the legal profession for around 17 years.

He said that the importance of having positive and successful figures in a community cannot be overstated.

“Seeing people around who are able to make a difference and get involved with the community helped to inspire me. It also meant that I was able to see an alternative way of progressing.

“Seeing prominent lawyers around in the community like Ruth Bundy and Courtenay Griffiths, that I’d have some involvement with, helped to influence my own career choice.”

Ruth Bundy is a leading civil rights lawyer in Leeds who founded the law firm Ruth Bundy & Co in 1986, which later merged with Ison Harrison in 1993. It later opened up a branch trading under the name of Harrison Bundey which is located in Chapeltown.

Courtenay Griffiths is a Jamaican-born British barrister, who is notable for his defence within a number of high-profile cases such as the 1996 London Dockland’s bombing and the first Damilola Taylor murder trial in 2002.

Jason works mainly in criminal and regulatory law and said that growing up during times of unrest also inspired him to want to make change.

He added: “There was quite a lot of antagonism or friction, between those in the local community and some in authority. Growing up in Chapeltown, you speak and feel some of that on a daily basis.

“There were a lot of things going on that motivated me to want to address some of the injustices that were occurring.”

However, launching a successful career in law was not without its challenges. He said that one of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome was his personal concerns about ‘fitting in’ and feeling a part of the environment he worked within.

“I overcame it by being confident in who I am, what I am and what I am able to do, and confronting the difficulties which I faced.”

Another major issue is that young people living in deprived areas who have aspirations to start successful careers of their own can often lack the self-esteem to pursue their goals.

But as somebody who grew up in a disadvantaged background, Jason said that it was important for young people to trust in their own ability to attain success in their chosen occupation, rather than depending on other people who may not always be encouraging or able to help.

“It is about finding a way to manage those challenges and not letting them set you back,” he added.

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