Stories in Our Stories

30th June 2020

My great-grandmother’s life was a series of firsts for the female legal profession. Beginning her career as the first woman called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn, being the first woman to appear at the Manchester Bar and the first to be presented with a ‘red bag’, by age 28, Edith had already made history […]

19th June 2020

An exclusive interview with Lady Justice Rafferty for First 100 Years. Dame Anne Rafferty has been a judge in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales since 2011.

9th June 2020

Dame Bobbie Cheema-Grubb is a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. She is the first Asian woman to serve as a High Court judge in the United Kingdom.

9th June 2020

Dame Janet Smith worked as a barrister in Manchester for twenty years. She was appointed to the High Court in 1992 and then chaired the Harold Shipman Inquiry in 2001-2. In 2002, Smith became the fourth woman appointed to the Court of Appeal. In 2012, Smith chaired the Jimmy Saville Inquiry.

9th June 2020

Baroness Heather Hallett DBE was the fifth woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal and the first female Chair of the Bar Council. She was called to the Bar in 1972 and became a QC in 1989. In 2009 she was chosen to act as coroner in the inquest into the deaths of […]

9th June 2020

Linda was the first female Managing Partner of a major Scottish law firm. She is a Non-Executive Director and was awarded an OBE for services to business.

9th June 2020

I.Stephanie Boyce was elected the deputy vice president of the Law Society in 2019. This means she will become its first BAME president when she takes up the presidency in 2021.

9th June 2020

Baroness Ruth Deech DBE is a British academic, lawyer, bioethicist and politician, most noted for chairing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority from 1994 to 2002, and as the former Principal of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Ruth sits as a Crossbench peer in the House of Lords.

12th May 2020

The legal drama series, The Split returned to our screens for a second series in early 2020. First aired in 2018 to popular acclaim, it features a family of female lawyers set in the world of high-value divorces. The public seem to have an appetite for expensive breakups, fueled perhaps by press reports of London […]

4th May 2020

Janet Hayes of Necton Consulting – Potential in People has recently completed some in-depth research into women’s journeys to partnership in professional services, interviewing lawyers as well as accountants and consultants. This was for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School. Why is this important? Women are still significantly under-represented at […]

2nd January 2020

Student Emma Barker discusses how the First 100 Years campaign gave her the spark to write a fascinating A-level dissertation, diving into the social change and fearless campaigning that led to the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919: The First 100 Years campaign inspired me to research the history of women in the […]

23rd October 2019

These striking red robes, recently unearthed by the Royal Courts of Justice, provide a thread connecting decades of groundbreaking women in law, from the past to the present day. The robes began their life in 1965 when Mrs Justice Elizabeth Lane reached the historic milestone of becoming the first woman High Court judge. This was […]

16th September 2019

At the heart of the legal profession is the concept of service and justice. This is encapsulated by the concept of pro bono in publico, “free for the public good,” a notion that does not exist in any other professional service. This centuries old tradition of a lawyer acting in the interests of those without […]

5th August 2019

The third woman judge and fifth woman QC in the country, through the eyes of her friend and fellow judge Her Honour Dawn Freedman Perhaps the quality I most associate with Myrella is courage. Having broken into the closed, to women, ranks of the Bar by starting her career at the Bar in her native […]

22nd July 2019

Cecilia Xu Lindsey is the first female Chinese national to be issued with a practising certificate to practise in the independent Bar of England and Wales. Cecilia Xu Lindsey joins First 100 Years for a discussion about her life and career. According to the Bar Council’s records, Cecilia is the first female Chinese national (including […]

18th July 2019

Rising to the Top The 1980s were characterised by the premiership of Margaret Thatcher as the UK’s first woman Prime Minister. It was one which saw the Falkland’s War in 1982, prolonged and bitter trade union strikes, the right to buy policy on state home ownership, the privatization of nationalised industries and the deregulation of […]

16th July 2019

Sylvia Denman CBE was a barrister and academic whose commitment to equal opportunities and fighting racial discrimination ensured a lasting legacy. She most notably conducted the Denman Inquiry into institutional racism in the CPS, heralding much-needed changes. Sylvia was born in Barbados in 1932 and came to Britain to study law at the London School […]

6th June 2019

The winning logo designed by University of Reading student, Charmaine Chong, to celebrate the centenary of women in law at the University of Reading. The University of Reading invited students to a meeting last year to plan how they wanted to celebrate the centenary of women in law this year. A number of the students […]

2nd April 2019

María Ascensión Chirivella Marín (1893 – 1980) was the first woman admitted to practise law in Spain in January 1922. In Spain, judges are not appointed, they are required to take an exam and women were not allowed to participate in these exams until 1961. The first Judge to pass the exam was Concepción Carmen […]

25th March 2019

On Thursday 21st March, First 100 Years was proud to sponsor 10 students to attend the Association of Women Judges’ event ‘Celebrating the contribution of great women judges to our legal life’ at the Supreme Court. It was an inspiring evening to learn about the lives and careers of Lady Hale, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Justice […]

13th March 2019

Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) is the first woman to be elected as President of the Federation of European Bar Associations. Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) is a solicitor and Professor of Clinical Legal Education and works in the Legal Advice Clinic of the London South Bank University where she trains and supervises law students […]

3rd December 2018

Angeli Arora, MA (Oxon) was one of the youngest lawyers to become partner, and managing partner, at a top tier international law firm. Indeed, she was amongst the first female lawyers to achieve record breaking success, as a solicitor qualified under the laws of England and Wales, in the international legal arena. In terms of […]

9th October 2018

Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union Law and Employment Law at Trinity College Cambridge. Catherine Barnard is Professor of European Union Law and Employment Law and Senior Tutor of Trinity College. She is a leading researcher working on the issues surrounding the Brexit negotiations. She is also a Senior Fellow in the Economic and Social […]

19th September 2018

Veronica Lowe, M.A.(Oxon), is a Solicitor and President St Hugh’s College Alumni Association, humorously credited with pioneering the six page CV for her continued success in a variety of fields within the legal profession. Lowe read Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, and was the first woman to take Military History as a […]

19th September 2018

As the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time looms, we are searching for the details of the first woman lawyers to become partners in solicitors’ firms.It was this photograph of Dorothy Livingston, the first female partner at Herbert Smith, which […]

4th September 2018

May Doris Charity Taylor (nee Clifford) was the first female prison governor in England and Wales. Born in Woking, Surrey, on 16th September 1914, Taylor qualified in medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London. She later joined the Prison Commission during WW2 because she felt that her skills as a doctor should be used […]

16th July 2018

Dorothy Mary Donaldson was the first female Lord Mayor of London. Dorothy Mary Donaldson, The Lady Donaldson of Lymington, previously known as Dame Mary Donaldson, was born in Wickham, Hampshire, and trained in Oxford as a nurse during the war, qualifying in 1946. Her patients included soldiers returning from Dunkirk and victims of the Blitz. […]

13th July 2018

Elsie Bowerman was called to the Bar in 1924, two years after Ivy Williams became the first woman called. She was also a suffragette, a Titanic survivor, and barrister. Born in 1889, Elsie was the daughter of a prosperous businessman who died when she was five years old. When she started at Wycombe Abbey, aged […]

11th July 2018

In 1987, Anne Willmott, a trained counsellor, was recruited by a forward-thinking Chief Fire Officer to set up a professional Counselling and Advice service for the London Fire Brigade. In a conversation with First 100 Years, she discusses the obstacles she came up against, working in a male-dominated environment, and what needs to change in […]

15th June 2018

Dorothy Knight Dix was the first woman to sit as recorder for a jury trial and was only the second woman to be appointed to the County Court bench, following Elizabeth Lane DBE. Dorothy Knight Dix, later Dorothy Waddy, was born on 8th September 1909 and attended school in Hampstead before studying at University of […]

13th June 2018

Mary Dorothea Heron, Helena Mary Early and Dorothea Mary Browne were the first three women to be admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland. The first three women admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland were Mary Dorothea Heron from Downpatrick Co. Down, Helena Mary Early from Dublin city and Dorothea Mary Browne […]

13th June 2018

Elizabeth Lane DBE was an English barrister and judge. She was the first woman appointed as a judge in the County Court, and the first female High Court judge in England. She is most extraordinary since she had no formal university education gaining a career in law by her own means. Born Elizabeth Kathleen Coulborn […]

12th June 2018

Professor Frances Elizabeth Moran was the first female law lecturer in Ireland, the first female Regius Professor at Trinity College, Dublin and the first woman to take silk in Ireland, years before any woman in Britain. Born on the 6th December 1893, the second daughter of Senator James Moran, Frances Moran was educated at Dominican […]

1st June 2018

Margaret Owen OBE is a human rights barrister specialising in women’s rights. In an interview with First 100 Years, she discusses her varied career, founding the charity Widows for Peace Through Democracy, and her advice for young female lawyers today. Margaret was born in 1932, the daughter of a solicitor and a doctor. She remembers […]

29th May 2018

Deirdre Trapp is an award-winning antitrust practitioner and partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. In an exclusive interview with First 100 Years, she discusses her route to success, improving the work/life balance, and the advice she gives to young female lawyers. The daughter of Irish immigrants, Deirdre’s mother was a nurse and her father was in […]

27th April 2018

R v Ahluwalia; a case which sparked changes in the law of murder and voluntary manslaughter, and raised awareness of domestic violence in non-English speaking families. But who were the campaigners that made the change possible? Kiranjit Ahluwalia was found guilty of murder in 1989, after setting alight her abusive husband’s bed whilst he slept. […]

20th April 2018

Denisa Gannon is the first Roma person to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. In an exclusive interview with First 100 Years, she describes why she studied law and how she’s got to where she is today, as well as her advice to aspiring lawyers. Denisa grew up in the Czech Republic, but […]

17th April 2018

In an interview with First 100 Years, Eileen Pembridge has spoken of her experiences of setting up Fisher Meredith, lobbying for changes in domestic violence law, and being the first woman to stand for the Law Society presidency in 1995. Eileen has had a very varied career. After starting off as a scientist, she switched […]

11th April 2018

In an interview with First 100 Years, Helena Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, has spoken of the changes that she has witnessed for women during her career at the Bar. Born to a working-class family in Glasgow, when Helena was called to the Bar in 1972, she describes the stereotypes that she faced: I […]

5th April 2018

Dorothy Livingston, first female partner of Herbert Smith Freehills has spoken to First 100 Years about her advice to young female lawyers, and what she hopes will change for the future. She says: I’d like to see a future in which the legal profession is well balanced between men and women. I think to do […]

28th March 2018

In conversation with First 100 Years Cherie Booth QC has urged for greater social mobility at the Bar saying she believes that there are even fewer state educated people being called now than there were in the past, attributing this partly to a lack of legal aid work. Describing her experiences at the Bar, Cherie […]

26th March 2018

In conversation with First 100 Years, Madeleine Heggs, who set up her own legal practice over 60 years ago, has discussed how she juggled the work/life balance, and why she thinks it’s harder than ever for young lawyers today. Brought up by a single mother during the war after her father was killed, Madeleine went […]

13th March 2018

Richard Pankhurst was born in the May of 1836, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire to Henry Francis Pankhurst and Margaret Marsden. He was educated at the Manchester Grammar School and following that, Owens College, Manchester. In 1959, Richard graduated from the University of London with an LLB (with honours) and then an LLD. He had always been […]

12th March 2018

Written by Mark Pallis In 1873, Charlotte Ray became the first African American woman lawyer in America. She set up her own firm and began what a contemporary called “active practice”. Then, just four years later, “on account of prejudice, was not able to obtain sufficient legal business” and shut up shop. And that’s almost […]

8th March 2018

Today, International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated around the world, a day to recognise women’s rights movements and women’s achievements. However, the meaning of IWD has changed over the years, and continues to differ between cultures. From a radical political demonstration, a celebration of traditional gender roles, a communist state holiday, to a day […]

1st March 2018

Written by Laura Vignoles, Associate Barrister, originally as part of Kingsley Napley’s International Women’s Day blog series. In my opinion, it is sufficient to rest this case upon the inveterate practice of the centuries that, ever since attorneys as a profession have existed, women have never been admitted to the office, and, in my opinion, […]

20th February 2018

Joan Stanley Rubinstein, pioneer female solicitor, marriage guidance counsellor, psychotherapist and founder member of Resolution was born in Kensington on the 18th November 1921, into a long standing family of solicitors. After war service at Bletchley Park (breaking Japanese codes) she was articled to her Father and admitted as a solicitor in 1947. Although Rubinsteins […]

12th February 2018

Richard Barr, Law Society Council Member, remembers Mary Smith (1967 – 1979) a trailblazer in legal journalism. My late father David Barr and I (later) wrote for the Law Society Gazette. I think that in the late 60s/ early 70s the Gazette had an editorial committee and that my father was on it. That is […]

12th February 2018

Lord Robert Cecil (born Edgar Algernon Robert Gasgoyne-Cecil), first Viscount of Chelwood, was born in Cavendish Square, London, on 14 September 1864, to the third Marquess of Salisbury, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, who would be the Conservative Prime Minister from 25 June 1895 to 11 July 1902. Cecil studied Law at University College, Oxford in […]

30th January 2018

Rosalind Wright CB QC, second woman director of the Serious Fraud Office 1997-2003, remembers Dame Juliet Wheldon (1950-2014) DCB QC, who was Treasury Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Service 2000-6. I first met Juliet when, as a young legal assistant in her first post at the Treasury Solicitor’s Department in the 1970s, she […]

30th January 2018

In our search for stories of legal pioneers, we came across this interview with Carrie Morrison, the first woman to be admitted to the Solicitors Roll in 1922, published in the Dundee Evening Telegraph on Tuesday 31 October 1922. “Started by accident” “I dropped into the work by accident; she said. ‘I had tried teaching […]

29th March 2017

This years’ winner of the Inspirational Women in Law Award, Keily Blair, discusses the First 100 Years project, being disruptive, and having a ‘jungle-gym’ approach to your career. In her words, “diverse organisations simply perform better”. ——- The First 100 Years chronicles the journey of women in law since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. […]

21st March 2017

As one of the Inspirational Women in Law Award finalists, Georgina Wolfe submitted a short essay on ‘How can Women Shape the Future of the Legal Industry?’. She tells the story of her own experiences in the world of law, in particular at the Bar, and how women bring unique experiences and skills to the […]

10th July 2014

Ada Summers was the first female magistrate, one of the first women in England to become a Justice of the Peace and was the first female councillor, mayor and freeman of Stalybridge. Born Ada Jane Broome in 1861, Summers was elected as a councillor in Stalybridge in 1912, representing the Liberal Party, years before women […]

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