He grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He set sail to the UK in 1929 to study mathematics at St John’s College, Cambridge. He then pursued a career in law and was Called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1934. He returned to Sri Lanka, where he practised as a barrister for the rest of his life, becoming a QC in 1965. 

You may be wondering who I am rattling on about. Understandable, really. Well, this man was my great grandfather – P. Navaratnarajah QC. This connection makes my involvement with Middle Temple feel rather like a full circle moment. 

As President of the Middle Temple Students’ Association (MTSA), my committee and I have been inspired by my great-grandfather and those from underrepresented sectors at the Bar. Each one has furthered the path for future barristers to feel included in spaces like Middle Temple. These actions would have no doubt required strength, determination and resilience. Increasingly, we see the value of their legacy; it is not perfect yet but there is an increase in representation at the Bar. This is important for the Bar, but more than that it is important for society. An effective justice system is best served by a representative Bar. In short, people need to see themselves in those representing them. 

With Middle Temple’s support, these ideas have acted as a cornerstone of our term. Here are a few highlights.

A Bharathanatyam Dance show 

In February, the MTSA hosted a South Asian dance show; a first for the Inn. A professional dancer, live musicians and students performed traditional pieces in front of a packed audience. The atmosphere during the show was electric thanks to the colour, vibrancy and joy in Hall. The evening culminated in a lively reception, accompanied by Sri Lankan food. The Archives kindly supported the event with two displays – one about the history of dance at the Inn, and the other on my great-grandfather’s admission papers. It was particularly moving to have feedback from barristers of South Asian origin who thanked us, explaining how much the representation meant to them. 

A Celebration of Women for International Women’s Day

In collaboration with Hall Committee and MTYBA, we hosted a panel of incredible women who are part of the Middle Temple community. We selected a panel who represented women at different stages of their career. This meant the audience were able to hear from students, juniors, Benchers and even judges! The takeaway was an inspiring one, attendees said they felt the event inspired them to continue building their career, whilst being proud of the strides they’ve already made. 

Pupillage events 

As all wannabe barristers know, pupillage is the goal. We wanted to give students the best shot possible. Our first pupillage event had a panel of current pupil barristers, who gave advice based on their successful applications and interviews. Students in the audience were heartened to hear from people who were just ahead of them, and the event was well received. Another pupillage event featured senior members of the Bar, including Master Treasurer. The session was designed to explain what pupillage panels were looking for, especially at interviews. Both events were held online, with around 150 attendees at each. As well as providing a wealth of information, tips and tricks, the events also exemplified the support and encouragement from senior members of the Inn.


It wouldn’t be the MTSA without a little fun. Our Christmas social was wonderful, and it meant even more this year, as after nearly two years of Zooms, we celebrated being together in person. All the attendees agreed the best part of the evening was Seb – our committee member – playing the Ehru for everyone. However, Mark Fenlon, Middle Temple’s longstanding Front of House Officer/Porter, joining us for a picture was a close second. 

When new members ask me about Middle Temple, I tell them this: that first, it is a wonderful place to be a student, there is so much to get involved with. Second, Middle Temple can foster professional relationships and communities you will rely on throughout your time at the Bar. Third, and most importantly, please please(!) – put your phone away at dinner in Hall. 

Overall, our goal has been to host events which allow everyone the opportunity to be seen and represented. If we have achieved that with even one person, then I think we’ve done our job. 

Anjali Keeping

Anjali Keeping is President of the Middle Temple Students’ Association. After completing the ICCA Bar Course, she is excited to begin Pupillage at Mountford Chambers in 2023. In her spare time, she enjoys Bharathanatyam, spending time with family and travelling.