Long-serving lawyer to swap courtroom for Cumbrian rural idyll

Keith Thomas
Keith Thomas

Retiring barrister Keith Thomas is leaving the courtroom behind – for a life in the fields.

Mr Thomas, 70, will hang up his wig and gown at the end of this month after a career spanning 48 years to spend more time with the sheep and horses at his land in north Cumbria.

Educated at Merton College, Oxford and Grays Inn in London, Mr Thomas was called to the bar in 1969 at the age of 23.

Mr Thomas, a defence barrister who works at LT Law on Finkle Street in Carlisle, said: “I started at Chambers in Manchester and then on to Preston.

“I moved to Cumbria in 2000 and became an advocacy partner in Carlisle in 2013.

“I mainly defend clients now. I love it. Like the Irish say: I love the crack.

“I love being with people, among the court. It serves a good purpose.”

Mr Thomas has worked on some big cases during his time as a barrister.

Included in these was the murder trial following the death of Carlisle factory worker Piotr Kulinksi.

With his job comes an element of risk, dealing with people involved in some of the most serious crimes.

But he said: “I’ve never really worried about defendants coming to my house or anything but it is something that you’re conscious of.”

Outside the courtroom Mr Thomas has a keen interest in his four horses and his pedigree Shetland sheep that live with him on his 23-acre plot at Bewcastle.

He said: “Someone once said to me: ‘For a farmer at heart he’s not a bad lawyer’. I like that.”

Mr Thomas is also chairman of the Permit Trainers Association and has represented people at disciplinary hearings before The Jockey Club.

Mr Thomas’ daughter Clare is also a barrister, regularly working in Carlisle.

Speaking about his retirement, he said: “I have seven grandchildren in Lancashire and Cumbria and I am looking forward to spending more time with them.”

His colleagues at LT Law on Finkle Street are arranging a retirement party to mark his successful career.

“I’m told they are organising something but it’s a secret,” said Mr Thomas.

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