Zeenat Islam

Called 2013

Zeenat Islam


Zeenat has been appointed as independent junior counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry since July 2017. She has a growing practice in Public Law, with 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’s 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 particularly experienced in representing vulnerable individuals, young people and working with communities and grass roots organisations.

Zeenat is a firm believer in the need for a critical understanding of the law whilst deploying it strategically as a tool to empower individuals in navigating the state and systems of power.

She is a fierce advocate for improving representation at the Bar and other spaces of power and influence, specifically working with women of colour and challenging stereotypes around Muslim women.

In addition to lawyering, Zeenat is an Associate Tutor at University of Warwick Law School where she is teaching on the Practical Advocacy module for LLB students.

She is also a speaker, trainer and the founder and director of YOU*th Inspire an award winning educational initiative. YOU*th Inspire targets young people from underrepresented groups and projects focus on social mobility, skills development and social justice.

She has been recognised in a number of awards and most recently won the Highly Commended Award in the UK Chambers Bar Awards 2019 for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion – Future Leader.

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 went onto complete the Bar Professional Training Course in 2013 for which she received an Outstanding. 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.

Prior to joining the Bar, she worked as a Research Associate for the Warwick Centre for Human Rights.

Associated Work

Human Rights and Social Justice

  • Zeenat undertook a 3 month Pegasus Fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York in 2016 where she worked within the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and international human rights team.
  • Zeenat received a grant from the Bar Council to take part in the “International Lawyering in the Public Interest” summer programme at TMC Asser Institute, Den Haag, 2018. She developed her understanding of strategic litigation, advocacy outside of the courtroom and how better to support community organisations.
  • Former committee member for Restless Beings, international human rights organisation advocating for marginalised communities including; the Rohingya and Bangladeshi street children. Zeenat led teams across PR, Youth Outreach and Legal and Human Rights departments.
  • Delegate on the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ programme, designed to empower delegates to take action in building stronger, more cohesive communities in the UK.
  • UNIPAL volunteer, education project 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.”
  • Intern at the Industry and Parliament Trust involved with devising content for the policy event series in the ethics and sustainability stream.

Speaking & Training

Selected engagements:

  • Training on youth justice for third sector organisations: “How to help your vulnerable service users in the CJS”
  • Lush Film Festival x Amaliah Panel: “The Judge Film: How do Muslim women access their God given rights?”
  • Women of the World (WOW) Festival Panel: “What should young women's education look like in the twenty-first century?”
  • Project Ribcage panel: “Pioneering – why it matters and why bother?”
  • Keynote speech launching Critical Lawyers at Warwick group
  • Workshop on the Modern Slavery Act for Think Global Think Tank
  • Human rights and international law training for Restless Beings
  • Various University speaking engagements including: LSE, Kings College, UCL, Birkbeck, Southampton, Warwick, University of East London
  • Alumni speaker for degree congregation, University of Warwick


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)


“Diversity & Inclusion: Beyond the tickboxes” Counsel Magazine, March 2020.
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.


Islam channel: City Reflections series and Women’s AM for IWW 2018 & on youth violence & activism
British Muslim TV: Women Like Us and Slay in Your Lane
Project Ribcage: Barrister, Founder & Activist
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

2019 UK Chambers Bar Awards, Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion: Future Leader, Highly Commended Award
2018 The Baton Awards, Professional Services Award, Nominated
2018 Asian Legal Awards, Rising Star Finalist
2017 SEC Criminal Advocacy Award 2017
2017 UK Legal Diversity Awards Rising Star Finalist
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, Association of Muslim Lawyers.