Life, Death and the Journeys in between (Jakki Cowley, Empowerment Matters, 2020, paperback, £15.50).
Full disclosure is required from the outset of this review: Jakki Cowley is one of the most tenacious, challenging (in a good sense) and thoughtful advocates that I have come across inside or outside the Court of Protection. In this book, part memoir, and part powerful and heartfelt recounting of a selection of advocacy stories, all of these qualities come through in spades.
The first part of the book, ‘The Advocacy Story and Me,’ details how she came into the world of advocacy, then into the world of IMCA advocacy when the MCA came in, and then into the world of advocacy in the context of Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness. Amongst the other merits of this section are an extremely clear and thoughtful series of reflections as to the place and purpose of advocacy.
In the second part of the book, ‘The Advocacy Stories,’ Jakki details a number of the cases in which she has been involved as advocate involving those in PDOC, including the landmark decision in Paul Briggs’ case. Whilst seen through her perspective, they remain at all times the stories of those at the centre of the case. They do not make easy reading, not just because of the subject matter, but also because of the challenges that Jakki poses to the way that ‘the system’ (including the court system) does – or does not – serve the interests of those in PDOC and their families. I should perhaps also note – at the risk of sounding unduly lawyerly – that there were times in the recounting of those of the stories which were the subject of reported judgments when the amount of information given went significanly beyond that which can be found in the judgments themselves. But I have no doubt that this was a matter of careful consideration – and part of the richness of the work is that it does provide the story behind both the headlines and the tip of the iceberg that judgments can provide.
I came away from this book inspired, moved, and, at times deeply frustrated, not with, but for Jakki and those to whom she works so hard to give a voice. You will too.
[Full disclosure: I was sent a review copy by Jakki. I am always happy to review works in or related to the field of mental capacity, health and mental law (broadly defined)]