Zeenat's practice encompasses all areas of criminal defence including; violence, drugs, fraud, sexual offences and public order offences. She has a particular interest and expertise in public international law, human rights and terrorism cases. An accessible and passionate advocate, Zeenat is committed to providing quality representation for all.
Zeenat is instructed in cases of serious and organised crime, both high profile and complex. She is experienced in representing vulnerable and young defendants and in cases that engage social justice and human rights issues.
Her work is defined by her personable approach and intellectual prowess. She is a skilled advocate; firmly dedicated to the needs of her clients. She is instructed alone and as a led junior. Zeenat was born and brought up in Birmingham and retains a strong base in the Midlands.
Outside of the courtroom, Zeenat is heavily involved with various projects in the community and pro bono work. She is the founder of an award winning community initiative YOU*th Inspire and remains integrally involved with a number of non-profit organisations.
Zeenat was awarded a Pegasus Scholarship and Bar Council Grant and in Autumn 2016 completed a Pegasus Fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. She worked within the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and international human rights team and has subsequently developed her expertise in international law and terrorism law.
Zeenat was the highest achieving graduate in her year and obtained a first class law degree from the University of Warwick in 2010; having received awards for best academic performance in both her penultimate and final years.
She obtained a Masters in Public International Law from the London School of Economics in 2012. Her specialisms included; terrorism and the rule of law, international human rights, international use of force and laws of armed conflict. She went onto complete the Bar Professional Training Course in 2013 for which she received an Outstanding. Prior to joining the Bar, she worked as a Research Associate for the Warwick Centre for Human Rights.
Human Rights and Social Justice
- Founder & Director of YOU*th Inspire, an award winning educational initiative working with young people to creatively engage with law, human rights and politics. Provides young people with a platform for civic participation, personal development and social activism.
- Providing support for MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit; set up to address, document and respond to islamophobic hate crimes.
- Former Pegasus Fellow at the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York.
- Former committee member for Restless Beings, international human rights charity working with marginalised communities including; Roma, Rohingya and Bangladeshi street children. Worked in the PR, Youth Outreach and Legal and Human Rights teams.
- Delegate on the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ programme, designed to empower delegates to take action in building stronger, more tolerant communities in the UK.
- UNIPAL volunteer, taught in refugee camps in Lebanon.
Academia and Policy
- Former Research Associate for the Warwick Centre for Human Rights. Areas of work included; research and report writing for the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, human rights impact assessments, Shariah Law in a globalised world, refugee protection in the Middle East and international criminal justice.
- Provided research assistance to Professor Andrew Williams, author of “A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa” Winner of the George Orwell Prize 2013 and Professor Dallal Stevens for “Legal Status, Labelling, Protection: the Case of Iraqi ‘Refugees’ in Jordan.”
- Former seminar tutor at University of Warwick Law School.
- Intern at the Industry and Parliament Trust involved with devising content for the policy event series in the ethics and sustainability stream.
Social Mobility Work
- Running a project in Chambers providing school children from BAME backgrounds with opportunities to visit Chambers, to learn about the Bar and with ongoing support in accessing careers in law.
- Involved with various social mobility projects including as a panel member for the “Ask Us Legal” campaign, designed to widen access to the legal professional for individuals from BAME backgrounds.
- Former Programme Support Coordinator for Princes Trust Charity MOSAIC in the West Midlands Region. Training mentors, volunteers, staff and both delivered and managed programmes across the region.
- Former team leader and mentor for various organisations committed to social mobility work including Pathways to Law, The Challenge and Aimhigher.
- Assisted with the preparation of materials and supported BPTC students at Cumberland Lodge for Inner Temple’s ‘Terrorism in the Dock’ advocacy training weekend, December 2015.
- Member of the Working Group for SEC’s ‘Response to the MOJ on the Quality of Advocacy,’ November 2015
- Successful completion of the Kalisher Trust advocacy course having received training from career development coaches and senior members of the Bar and Judiciary.
- Member of Chambers’ Pupillage Committee, specifically dealing with mini pupillage applications.
2013: University of Law, Bar Professional Training Course (Outstanding)
2012: London School of Economics and Political Science, Masters in Public International Law, LLM (Merit)
2010: University of Warwick, Law, LLB (hons) (First Class)
“It’s only a genocide when we say it is: The Rohingya,” CCR Blog, February 2017.
Terrorism in the dock, The Inner Temple Yearbook 2016-17
Contributor to “Calais: crisis of our times?” Counsel Magazine, March 2016
“An Unbreakable Spirit of Strength & Survival,” The New Jurist, February 2016
Sentencing in the Crown Court, Dermot Keating and Zeenat Islam, Practical Law Company, 2014
“No more refugee status? Does the rise of subsidiary and complementary protection bode well for those fleeing human rights abuses?” London School of Economics, Justitia Omnibus Journal 2012.
Carving a Path to Justice: Race & Justice in the Legal Sector, Women in Law: May 2016
Featured in British Bangladeshi Power & Inspiration List 2016 and 2017.
Spotlight on: Life as a Pupil Barrister, LawCareers.Net: March 2014
Scholarships & Awards
2016: Nominated for Rising Star, Society of Asian Lawyers Awards
2016: Pegasus Scholarship
2016 Bar Council, International Legal and Professional Development Grant
2014 Criminal Bar Association Bursary Award
2013 Inner Temple BPTC Prize for Outstanding Performance
2012 Inner Temple Major Exhibition Award
2012 Inner Temple Duke of Edinburgh Scholarship
2011 Life Changers Awards, Female Entrepreneur for YOU*th Inspire: Winner
2011 Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Social & Humanitarian Category: Finalist
2010 Women of the Future Awards, Young Star Category: Finalist
2010 Warwick Law School Best Academic Performance Prize (Final year)
2010 Julia Kerr Human Rights Award
2009 Warwick Law School Best Academic Performance Prize (Penultimate year)
2007-10 University of Warwick MSP Scholarship
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, The Criminal Bar Association. Bar Human Rights Committee, Society of Asian Lawyers, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Human Rights Lawyers Association and Association of Muslim Lawyers.