The richness and diversity of Eileen Pembridge’s experience before qualifying as a lawyer perhaps goes some way to explaining why her approach to the law is so vastly empathetic. Her balancing of a rigorous and effective approach with a genuine and palpable interest in those individuals who seek the help of her firm is perhaps reflective of her lifelong desire to pursue a dual passion for the arts and the sciences. She studied the sciences alongside Latin and Russian for her A Levels, and went on to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge – not a common beginning for a solicitor – followed by a postgraduate degree in French and Russian. With work experience for various UN agencies under her belt, Eileen took up work in Africa, thus cementing her desire to work with those who needed her help. After moving back to England and working for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Eileen decided it was time to qualify as a lawyer and put the vast array of skills she had required to a cumulative use.
Post qualification, in the ambitious fashion that had become typical of her endeavours, in 1975 Eileen set up a firm, jointly with Mike Fisher, the modest beginnings of which typified by the fact that the firm operated entirely from his flat. The firm rapidly grew under Eileen’s stewardship, and now has over a hundred staff over two offices. Alongside running the firm, Eileen was a champion of the women’s movement, campaigning in particular for the changes of laws involving domestic abuse. Having spent 15 years making a name for herself in family law and legal aid, in 1990 Eileen took the step to become involved in the Law Society. She stood for presidency in 1995 and, despite the fact she did not succeed, her legacy as the first woman to ever stand, along with her wide reputation as a leader in her field, cements her name as one of the great female legal pioneers.