He was educated at Brentwood School, at the University of Leeds, and at the Inns of Court, School of Law. He was called to the bar in 1972.
Before entering Parliament, Straw worked as a barrister and a political adviser to Barbara Castle and Peter Shore.
Straws parliamentary career began in 1979 when he became M.P. for Blackburn, the seat he has represented ever since. He was appointed opposition spokesman on treasury and economic affairs (1980-1983) and then opposition spokesman on the Environment (1983—1987). Rising swiftly, he served as shadow education secretary between 1987 and 1992 and as shadow environment secretary from 1992 to 1994. He then became shadow home secretary in 1994, becoming official home secretary upon labour’s general election victory in May 1997.
Jack Straw first drew attention to himself as a radical university student leader at Leeds in the 1960s and as president of the National Union of Students between 1969 and 1971. Yet as he has risen in Labour and government circles, he has become less radical and has drifted to the right of the Labour Party, becoming a determined and uncompromising figure in the fight against crime.
He is married and has two children.