As a sight impaired Barrister Fayyaz Afzal OBE has overcome many challenges on his path through the field of law to become a District Judge.
Fayyaz who gained a law degree at Staffordshire University in 1998, has difficulties researching and reading due to blindness. Despite these barriers, however, he was awarded an OBE for his services to the judiciary and voluntary services to disabled people just ten years after graduating.
“I predominantly specialise in family work and regulatory crime,” he said. “I’ve been doing it from the very beginning.
“The more I did in a certain area of law, the less I had to read and learn about it from books. Being sight impaired is one of those things you learn to deal with by learning your strengths.”
Fayyaz entered into law when he was 18 years old, straight after finishing his A-levels, and chose Staffordshire University to undertake his degree.
He said: “Because of my disability I always had to rely on others for help and I wanted to be able to assist others so I thought law was a good way of doing that.
“I did A-level Law to test my curiosity and then I went to Staffordshire University in 1995. I was living in Rochdale at the time and the Staffs Law School had a very good reputation. I have very fond memories of my university days.”
Fayyaz was called to the Bar in 1999, after which he returned to Staffordshire University to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Commercial Law in 2000. A year later he joined New Walk Chambers, in Leicester.
Fayyaz also sits on the Equality and Diversity Committees at the Bar. He is the Junior to the Midland Circuit and a Chambers Pupillage Coordinator and was named as the Community Lawyer of the Year in 2007.
He was appointed as a Deputy District Judge in 2010 and appointed as a Recorder in 2015 on the northern circuit which deal with care cases that require serious consideration and care.
On the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Right Honourable The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Queen has appointed Fayyaz Afzal OBE to be a District Judge in 2017.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Fayyaz in recognition of his achievements in fighting for the rights of disabled people and other disadvantaged groups in the legal profession, and for being an aspirational role model for Staffordshire University students.