First 100 Years

Celebrating the past to shape the future for women in law

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Did you know that there are left to the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919?

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About the First 100 Years

An ambitious video history project documenting the journey of women in the legal profession, from 1919 to present day

The First 100 Years is a ground-breaking history project, supported by the Law Society and the Bar Council, charting the journey of women in law since 1919. The project is powered by Spark21, a charity founded to celebrate, inform and inspire future generation of women in the profession. In 2019 the project will mark the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time. The First 100 Years project was created by Dana Denis-Smith, CEO of Obelisk Support. Launching the project Dana said: “People don’t know their history — who the first woman solicitor was, for instance. There is no archive like the First 100 Years to help us place ourselves in history.”

Work is now under way to produce a new digital museum made up of 100 video stories that tell the story of women in law. The digital museum will be donated to the British Library in 2019. The project’s legacy will be the creation for the first time of positive role models for women in law, a deep understanding of the past combined with a celebration of today, a cross-sector platform for intelligent debate and change and a valuable archive accessible to everyone from law students to High Court Judges. Our aim is to ensure a strong and equal future for all women in the legal profession. Going forward, this website will be archived by the British Library.

Follow our Timeline from 1919 to 2019

The First 100 Years project is charting the journey of women in law since 1919. You can follow our timeline to learn more about the key landmarks since Eliza Orme became the first woman in England to get a Law Degree from University College London in 1888. Over the next four years this timeline will be continuously updated and expanded, so please send us your stories, your insights and your facts and figures for us to include on this piece of history. Contact the project team: [email protected]

Explore The First 100 Years Timeline

Meet the First 100 Years Team

Angela Holdsworth
Executive Producer
Dana Denis-Smith
Henry Lockett
Web Developer
Kerry Jack
Public Relations
Naomi Jones
Rhiannon Adams
Project Co-ordinator
Sarah MacRae
Scott Jones

Meet Our Project Champions

Ania Rontaler
Anne Davies
Barry Matthews
Catherine Calder
Chantal-Aimée Doerries
David Standish
Dean Lloyd
Diane Burleigh
Elizabeth Cruickshank
Erika Rackley
Fatema Orjela
Fiona Fleming
Funke Abimbola
Harini Iyengar
Harriet Sassoon
Helen Dodds
Henrietta Amodio
Judith Bourne
Katie Broomfield
Kevin Crosby
Laura Boyle
Laura Clenshaw
Leonora Saunders
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff
Mari Takayanagi
Mark Skinner
Monica Burch
Nancy Scott
Nicola Sawford
Nikki Elliot
Penny Miller
Peter Crisp
Rosemary Auchmuty
Sandie Okoro
Sophie Bragg
Steve Rudaini
Susan Belgrave

Latest News

8th August 2017
Winner of the inaugural Inspirational Women in Law Award Keily Blair and then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Elizabeth Truss Nominations for the 2017 Inspirational Women in Law Award are now open! The Inspirational Women in Law Award seeks to identify the trailblazers of the profession, in the lead up to the [&hellip...
4th August 2017
Carrie Morrison, Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes and Maud Crofts were the first women to pass the Law Society’s examinations to qualify as solicitors in 1922. This was only possible following the passage of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which allowed women to enter into the legal profession. The four women had been waiting...
4th August 2017
The First 100 Years #OnTheRoll artefact is now on display at the Supreme Court. The limited edition toilet roll, one of only 100 in the world, tells of how law firms, chambers and other legal institutions had provided the lack of women’s lavatories as a reason for not promoting women to senior positions within...
28th July 2017
Almost 100 people joined us in celebrating the journey of women in law at the First 100 Years Summer Drinks on 27 July 2017. Hosted by Sidley Austin LLP at its beautiful office in the heart of London, guests were treated to an evening of insights into some of the inspiring female pioneers of the [&hellip...
28th July 2017
“I believe that the sex-exclusiveness of the legal profession is doomed. Women won’t stand it, and men, who have been learning a great deal lately about women’s capabilities, will not tolerate it either.” That was Helena Normanton’s prediction as she made her first application to be admitted...
21st July 2017
Frances Kyle and Averill Deverell became Ireland’s first women to be admitted to the Bar on November 1, 1921. Frances Kyle had completed her BA and LLB at Trinity College Dublin. She went on to win the John Brooke Scholarship, the top Irish students’ law prize, having come first in the class for the Bar...
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We want to hear from everyone, men and women, who would like to support the project or share their stories and archive material.


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