Tunde Okewale awarded MBE in 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the community and disadvantaged young people. The
award was made in recognition of his “services to the community and
disadvantaged young people”.
Okewale, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and founder of Urban
Lawyers, is a popular figure on social media and made GQ’s 2014 “cool”
Background and achievements

is 32 years of age and a Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. He was raised on
a council estate in Hackney, East London. He is the eldest of four children and
was the first person in my family to attend university and obtain a degree.
During his studies, Tunde undertook numerous simultaneous part-time jobs in the
food and retail industry, to enable him to contribute towards his household.
Consequently, his academic studies suffered, and he obtained a 2.2 in his
undergraduate degree. Career advisors and professionals told him that he would
never make it. Despite this setback, Tunde ploughed on. He involved himself in
community work and was eventually invited to conduct a workshop on behalf of
the Greater London Authority. As a result of his performance on this project,
he was asked to become a director of the charity, From Boyhood to Manhood
Foundation, and was awarded a meritorious scholarship to attend bar school
where he would excel academically to offset his undergraduate grades. 
The fact
that Tunde managed to qualify as a barrister, and obtain tenancy at a major
Chambers, is a demonstration of his sheer determination to prosper in spite of
his socioeconomic background. His journey and remarkable accomplishments have
inspired young people from backgrounds similar to his own to persevere and
succeed against the odds.
2009, Tunde founded a charity organisation called Urban Lawyers which is a
multi-media education and information centre designed to educate, engage and
stimulate discussion amongst young people about their attitudes towards
criminal law, policing and personal responsibility. Urban Lawyers also provides
resources, information and opportunities for young people to secure work and/or
experience in the legal profession. Through Urban Lawyers, Tunde has helped a
minimum of 5 thousand students achieve and attain their career goals, and have
educated at least 10 thousand people on their legal rights. This has been
accomplished through a range of activities at multiple universities across the
United Kingdom (such as Nottingham Trent University, London Metropolitan
University, Kingston University, Cardiff University, UCL, King’s College
London, University of Hertfordshire, BPP Law School, and Sheffield University,
to name a few). The organisation has provided summer work placements, mock
assessment days, interviewing and CV clinics, and soft skills training for
thousands of students across these UK higher education institutions. The
initiatives have given the students opportunities to meet professionals, obtain
work experience, and gain insights into the legal profession. Although the
projects target students from non-traditional backgrounds, its impact and
benefits have been experienced by students from multiple backgrounds.
its increasing track record in nurturing young talent in the field of law,
Urban Lawyers has won the support of firms such as Berwin Leighton Paisner, and
Hogan Lovell’s pro bono unit. Urban Lawyers recently awarded 4 scholarships in
partnership with BPP Law School. These awards provided financial assistance to
students from non-traditional backgrounds who demonstrate academic potential
and are actively involved in community outreach.
has worked pro-bono on several cases, one of these was a case referred by the
Cardiff University Innocence Project which saw the overturn of the wrongful
conviction of Dwaine George. This was the first ever case to be referred to the
Court of Appeal by university students.
provides legal training to Youth Offending Teams across the country,
particularly those that deal with high-risk offenders. This role highlights
Tunde’s holistic involvement in the criminal justice system, working directly
with those that come into contact with it at every juncture. This enables him
to transfer knowledge and insights between organisations within the criminal
justice system. Thus, empowering those organisations to provide a better
service and to transform the lives of those who engage with them.
Tunde is not in court, he is heavily involved in community outreach work. He
has substantial public speaking experience and regularly participates in events
for charitable bodies and runs educational workshops for community groups such
as SE1 United and Elevation Networks; workshops on youth crime for the London
Borough of Waltham Forrest and the London Borough of Southwark; workshops on
employment and discrimination rights for people with disability at the Royal
Institute for Blind; educational and inspirational seminars at Raynes Park
School, Junior Chamber International, Free The Child Foundation, and Body and
Soul, just to name a few. Tunde’s work with Body and Soul focused on enhancing
and improving the self-confidence affected by HIV/Aids. He did this by
volunteering at the centre and delivering workshops and motivational talks.
Tunde’s engagement with the community has not only inspired and encouraged
community cohesion but has also educated and empowered the disaffected. The
cumulative effect of Tunde’s involvement in the community has inspired the
younger generation and reminded an older generation of the relationship between
success and service.
has also delivered a number of Stop-and-Search workshops in difficult schools
and London boroughs (such as Hackney, Waltham Forrest, Southwark) working with
at-risk youth and encouraging them to positively engage with legal enforcement
agencies. As a result of his endeavours, he is frequently invited to repeat the
workshops and also deliver them on a national level.
also supports grassroots organisations such as the campaign group, JENGbA
(Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association). He delivered sessions at a
weekend conference and provided legal advice and support to grassroots
organisations on how to use legislation effectively. The impact of this is that
organisational like JENGbA have been able to create a sustained awareness, not
only with the general public but also among parliamentarians. Tunde’s
enthusiasm for championing social justice has inspired individuals and
grassroots organisations to increase the frequency of their knowledge-sharing
conferences. He is often invited to speak and facilitate dialogue during these
was an advisor to ‘The Citizen’s Inquiry into the Tottenham Riot’ in 2011. He
helped to produce and edit a report that looked into the causes, effects and solutions
in relation to the public disturbances. Tunde was an integral part of the fact
finding exercise and facilitated dialogue between the residents of Tottenham.
This report influenced national policy and helped secure funding for the
residents of Tottenham.
is regularly invited to speak at the Law Society in relation to diversity
within the profession, and inspiring those from non-traditional backgrounds to
consider entering the profession.
is also asked to make regular appearances on the BBC radio in recognition of
his work within the community. In addition, he hosted the BBC (London) youth
‘London Speaks’ debate in aid of the 1,000 days until the 2012 Olympic Games
celebration. Tunde featured as an expert on the BBC Radio 1 Xtra broadcast
“GANGS ON FILM” alongside Noel Clarke, Ashley Walters and many
others. Here he was asked to share his opinions on why young people join gangs
and become entrenched in crime. He also featured as an expert on The London
Live documentary “TRAPTOWN”, where he was asked to share his opinions on the
how the criminal justice system impacts young people.
was invited to attend the Star Symposium in Stein am Rhein, a symposium for
Leaders of the Next Generation. He is the only person to date, to have been
awarded a full bursary to attend. The conference recognises individuals
worldwide between the ages of 35-50, and he was recognised for his work and
accomplishments in the community despite only being 28 years old at the time.
the international level, Tunde was involved in the Griffiths Trust ‘HUSH THE
GUNS’ Project in Kingston, Jamaica in 2009. Tunde was also commissioned by the
Jamaican and Canadian Government to facilitate workshops for disaffected
youths. He was selected as a UK ambassador to attend an international
conference with China on 2009 where the focus was on social entrepreneurship
and community cohesion (Sponsored by Cisco systems). He continues to share the
knowledge acquired on these programmes with local groups and individuals in
communities in the UK.
had the opportunity to share his knowledge of the law, as part of a delegation
sent to Nigeria by the Bar Human Rights Committee in partnership with UNICEF.
The project aimed to enhance the capacity of the Child Protection Network (CPN)
set up across different states in Nigeria. This was achieved though conducting
human rights monitoring and documentation, with a particular focus on case
management, interviewing and statement taking from children. The project also
worked by engaging regional and international mechanisms of redress. Tunde
delivered training on the aforesaid issues to legal practitioners, social
workers and government ministers.
summary, Tunde’s efforts demonstrate continuous service to every facet of his
profession; diversity, pro-bono, and representation of the disaffected. His
contribution to wider community and his perseverance though adversity is a
testimony of success, sacrifice and service.
Qualifications and Positions Held
2014 – November
2015           Advisory Board
Member – Police Now
2013 – Present
Patron – Hackney Community Law Centre
2013 – Present    
        Registered Lawyer under The FA
Football Agents Regulations
2013- Present          Freeman at
the Worshipful Company of World Traders
2012 –
Consultant for Amber and Greene
2011 – Feb. 2012         Legal Advisor
– Citizens Inquiry into the Tottenham  Riots  

2011 – Present             
   Barrister – Doughty Street Chambers    
2008 – Mar. 2014         Trustee – From
Boyhood to Manhood Foundation    
2008 – May 2011        Barrister – 4 Breams
Buildings Chambers
2006 – Sept. 2007       Board Member – Southwark
Youth Crime Prevention
2006 – Present
President and Founder – Urban Lawyers
2005 – Mar. 2008         Director – From Boyhood to Manhood
Foundation Charity
  • Winner
    – The Inaugural Chambers & Partners Award for ‘Outstanding
    Contribution to Diversity’
  • Finalist
    – The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year 2015
  • Finalist
    – Black British Awards 2015 for Professional Services.
  • Ted
    X Tottenham 2015
  • Winner
    – Legal Diversity Award 2014 (Diversity Champion)
  • Finalist
    – National Diversity Awards 2014
  • Junior
    Chamber of International London Ten Outstanding Young People Award 2013
  • Shortlisted
    for Young Legal Aid Barrister of the Year 2012
  • Awarded
    O2 Think big award for my work with Urban Lawyers 2012
  • Lawyer
    monthly publication for the barrister awards as the young barrister of the
    year 2012
  • Runner
    up for Mayor of London’s Peace Awards 2011
  • Awarded
    Millennium by UnLtd for his work with Urban Lawyers 2010

Website – www.tundeokewale.com
Twitter – @urbnlawyer