Baroness Brenda Hale has always been known for her vivacious attitude towards women’s rights and diversity in the legal profession. At grammar school, she first noted there were only half the number of places available for girls as for boys. Whilst reading Law at Girton College, Cambridge, she found that she was one of only six women amongst over 100 law students, and the ratio at the time of women at the Bar was similar. Now, the first woman to sit on Britain’s Supreme Court, Baroness Hale has shown a life-long interest in promoting social equality.
In 1969 she was called to the Bar and began to work flexibly part-time in a family law practice and part-time working academically. Hale specialised in the teaching of family and social welfare law at Manchester University whilst she was there between 1966 and 1984. She has also campaigned to increase diversity of the judiciary; when criticising the old tradition of wearing wigs in Court, she claimed they “deny women their femininity” and “humanise all of us into men”.
Voted the 4th most powerful woman in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, Baroness Hale discusses the importance of her appointment as the first female Law Lord:
“This matters because democracy matters. We are the instrument by which the will of Parliament and government is enforced upon the people. It does matter that judges should be no less representative of the people than the politicians and civil servants who govern us”
Hear more from Baroness Brenda Hale at the Georgetown Law Commencement Ceremony here:
Here, Baroness Brenda Hale speaks about diversity in the Supreme Court for the BBC: