As the current Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian holds the second most senior judicial post in Scotland. This appointment made history in 2016 as no woman had ever served at this level in the Scottish legal system before. Leeona Dorrian’s status as a trailblazer began decades prior when she became the first woman to serve […]
Yasmin Sheikh is a former personal injury lawyer and the founder of Diverse Matters, a consultancy that trains organisations on how to confidently approach disability and effectively tap into diverse talent. The organisation does this through training, coaching, mentoring, talks and webinars. Yasmin is also a speaker, thought leader and Vice Chair of the Lawyers […]
Funke Abimbola MBE is a solicitor who has consistently used her voice to champion equality and diversity in the legal profession. She is the former UK General Counsel of Roche, the world’s largest biotech company. In June 2017, Funke was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the legal profession and to young people.
Laura is the President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland and Procurator to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. She is an expert in civil litigation, with a particular focus on delict and public law. This has seen her serve as Senior Counsel to the Penrose Inquiry and as the first female […]
Carolyn McCombe is the former Chief Executive of 4 Pump Court, a role which was newly created when she filled its shoes. Carolyn began her career as a litigation solicitor, rising to partner by age 30, before taking the unusual step of joining a barrister’s chambers as a junior clerk. Since then, she has risen […]
An exclusive interview with Dame Fiona Woolf for First 100 Years. Fiona is a British corporate lawyer, and served as Lord Mayor of London 2013-2014, the second woman in 800 years. Born in Edinburgh, Fiona qualified as a solicitor in 1973. She worked at CMS and became the firm’s first female partner in 1981.
Dame Vera Baird QC is currently the Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales, responsible for promoting the interests of victims and witnesses of crime. She previously served as a Labour MP, the Solicitor General for England & Wales and a Police and Crime Commissioner. This was after practising as a criminal barrister for many years.
At the age of 31, Briony Clarke became one of the youngest ever female judges in the UK upon her appointment as a Deputy District Judge in 2017. Alongside her part-time appointment, she practised as a criminal law solicitor. Briony is now a full time District Judge and sits in Birmingham.
Lesley Wan is General Counsel for FBN Bank. Lesley is Founder & President of The Eagle Club – a global network of 180 women in senior leadership positions. She is also Founder and CEO of Through the Looking Glass, a charity which provides underprivileged children with an insight into City professions and encourages them to […]
Katherine Ramo is an Associate in the Technology, Media, IP and Competition team at CMS. She is listed in the top global 30 Financial Times Women in Business HERoes and Future Female Leader 2018 and is the founder and chair of the CMS ENABLE Network for disability and wellbeing.
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.
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 […]
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.
© Jamie Williamson for First 100 Year’s #100Faces100Years in 2019. Baroness Hale retired in early 2020 as the United Kingdom’s most senior judge. She was educated at Richmond High School for Girls in North Yorkshire and Girton College, Cambridge (where she is now Visitor) and was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1969. […]
Catherine Johnson is Group General Counsel at the London Stock Exchange. She advises the Board and senior executives on key legal matters and strategic initiatives, and previously was head of the Group’s Regulatory Strategy team. Catherine qualified as a lawyer at Herbert Smith in 1993.
Eleanor Sharpston QC has combined a career in practise at the Bar (specialising in European Union and ECHR Law) with an academic career first at UCL and then in Cambridge where she was a University Lecturer from 1992 to 1998 and an Affiliated Lecturer from 1998 to 2006. In January 2006 Eleanor took up the […]
An exclusive interview with Rachel Spearing for First 100 Years. Spearing is a barrister at Serjeant’s Inn Chambers. Previously she worked in Capital Markets in a US investment bank. In 2017 Spearing founded the Wellness for Law UK Network, an organisation providing a space to share positive practice and initiatives to improve health and wellbeing […]
Harriet Wistrich is an English solicitor who works at Birnberg Pierce & Partners. She is also the co-founder of Justice for Women, a feminist organisation which advocates for women who have fought back against violent male partners, as well as Liberty’s Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014.
Her Honour Judge Khatun Sapnara is a Circuit Judge who presides over both family and criminal cases. Her appointment in 2006 as a Recorder of the Crown Court saw her become the first person of Bangladeshi origin to join the ranks of the senior judiciary. HHJ Sapnara came to the UK from Bangladesh at the […]
Dame Nicola Davies was the first Welsh female Court of Appeal Judge when she was appointed in October 2018. In 1992, Nicola became the first female Welsh QC, having been called to the bar in 1976. Throughout her judicial career she has been the first Welsh woman to hold each post.
Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal PC QC, is a lawyer and Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations. Baroness Scotland was the first black woman appointed QC in 1991. In 2016, she became the first female Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 members states with 2.4 billion people.
Baroness Butler-Sloss was the first woman to sit on the Court of Appeal and thus the first female Lord Justice of Appeal. She was the highest-ranking female judge in the United Kingdom until 2004. Called to the Bar in 1955, she was also the fourth woman ever to be appointed a High Court judge, in […]
An interview with Dame Janet Gaymer, DBE, QC, who most recently served as a Civil Service Commissioner and Commissioner for Public Appointments from 2006 to 2010. She was previously senior partner of Simmons & Simmons, Chair of the Employment Tribunal System Taskforce and a member of the Employment Tribunals Service Steering Board.
Major General Susan Ridge, CB is a senior British Army officer and lawyer. From September 2015 until July 2019, she was Director General of the Army Legal Services Branch (DGALS). She is the first woman to hold the rank of major general in the British Army and the first to hold non-honorary general officer rank […]
Baroness Chakrabarti was the Director of Liberty from 2003 to 2016. In August 2016, Chakrabarti was made a life peer and was appointed Shadow Attorney General for England and Wales in October 2016. After studying Law at the London School of Economics, Chakrabarti was called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1994. In 1996, […]
Madeleine Heggs set up her own legal practice over 60 years ago. Brought up by a single mother during the war after her father was killed, Madeleine went to a school which “knew nothing about careers”, and girls were expected to become a secretary, or if you were very bright, a teacher. She was the […]
Jacquelyn MacLennan is a Partner at White & Case and advises on issues related to corporate supply chain compliance, disclosure requirements, and Business & Human Rights issues. Jacquelyn acted on the European Court of Justice case that saw same sex marriages recognised across the European Union.
Dame Rosalyn Higgins GBE QC is a former President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). She was the first female judge elected to the ICJ, and was elected President in 2006, also the first female elected. Following her education, Higgins was a practising barrister, and became a QC in 1986, and is a bencher […]
Clare Montgomery QC joined First 100 Years for a discussion about her life and career. In 2016 Chambers & Partners described Clare Montgomery as ‘the most formidable member of the bar’. She is a highly respected barrister specialising in criminal, regulatory and fraud law, known for her work on legally and factually complex cases.
An exclusive interview with Lady Arden for the First 100 Years project. Lady Arden joined the Supreme Court as its third female judge on 1st October 2018 and two days later history was made when the Court sat with a female majority for the first time. In 1993, Mary Arden was the first woman appointed […]
An exclusive interview with Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, barrister, broadcaster and campaigner. As one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers, she has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights.
An exclusive interview with Cherie Booth QC for First 100 Years. Booth is a leading British barrister specialising in arbitration, mediation, public law, human rights, employment law and European Community law. She is a noted speaker on human rights.
Slaughter & May’s Frances Murphy was one of the most formidable corporate lawyers in the City. As a woman, she carved a reputation for excellence at a time there were few women in her field. She passed away on 25 May 2016, after we filmed her for our project celebrating the lives of women in […]
An exclusive interview with Alison Meek for First 100 Years. Alison is a partner in Harcus Sinclair’s contentious trusts and estates team and has been appointed by the High Court to act as executor in complex estates. She was a founder of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists).
In 2017, Baroness Brenda Hale became the first woman to be appointed president of the Supreme Court in England & Wales. The First 100 Years project was lucky to film her before, when she was the only woman supreme court justice. She is a true trailblazer for women in law and women in leadership more […]
An exclusive interview with Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood CBE for First 100 Years. An eminent property lawyer, Ruth worked at her father’s firm Janners for 25 years, before becoming Chairman of Partners. Ruth was also a vice-president of ‘Woman of the Year Lunch & Assembly’ and is a trustee of several charitable trusts.
In an exclusive interview with First 100 Years, John Steel QC discusses how he was inspired to become a barrister by his mother, Marianne Steel (who practised under her maiden name and second name, Val Rees). Called to the Bar in 1978, John is a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers and was appointed Silk in […]
An exclusive interview with Dorothy Livingston, the original inspiration behind the First 100 Years project. She was the first female partner of what was then Herbert Smith. She was promoted to equity partner whilst pregnant with her second child but believes it took her longer than her contemporaries to be promoted.
We hosted a celebration party in support of the project attended by Lady Hale, the only woman on the UK Supreme Court, and Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court.
Lady Hale speaks to the First 100 Years about her journey in law, her role models and the progression of women in the legal profession.
As we look forward to the Annual Spark 21 Conference on 9 November 2016 at Simmons & Simmons LLP, we feature one of our Red Chair Interviews with Funke Abimbola from the 2015 Spark21 Conference. Please visit the website for more information on how to attend this year’s conference. The idea behind the Red Chair […]
As we look forward to the Annual Spark 21 Conference on 9 November 2016 at Simmons & Simmons LLP, the First 100 Years Project will be publishing excerpts of speeches from the 2015 Spark21 Conference every Monday, leading up to this year’s conference. Please visit the website for more information on how to attend. In […]
The First 100 Years project hosted its annual reception at the Supreme Court, thus marking the amazing achievements of the last year in the presence of the country’s top judges – the Supreme Court President and Baroness Hale, the only woman on the Supreme Court.
The Founder of the First 100 Years project, Dana Denis-Smith, shares her personal story and her journey from Transylvania, in Romania, to being a journalist, City lawyer, woman in law and entrepreneur as well as a mother and wife.
#OnTheRoll captures the story of how women were prevented from getting a job in the legal industry for decades, simply because there were no female toilet facilities at law firms and legal institutions. This unbelievable story has been printed on one hundred limited edition toilet rolls. You can purchase this special edition roll for £100. […]
These are excerpts from the First 100 Year’s video interview with June Venters QC, first woman solicitor to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel. The video can be found here. What happened was that the solicitors firm where I was working, one morning, on a Monday called me in to say they were closing the department […]
June Venters QC, the first woman solicitor to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel, speaks to the First 100 Years about her journey in law. Her interview transcripts can be found here.
Barry Matthews, deputy General Counsel at ITV, in conversation with Mrs June Foote, his school headmistress and a magistrate, who inspired him to succeed in life and train as a lawyer.
In 2016 Chambers & Partners described Clare Montgomery as ‘the most formidable member of the bar’. She is a highly respected specialist in criminal, regulatory and fraud law, known for her work on legally and factually complex cases. The following article is based on Clare’s video interview with First 100 Years and is written in […]
We interviewed Slaughter & May Corporate Partner Frances Murphy in December 2015. We were saddened to hear the news of her death on 25 May 2016. Legal Week have featured our film with her in which “Murphy discusses everything from her motivation for becoming a lawyer to her love of deals and the reality of […]
These excerpts are special previews from Baroness Brenda Hale’s video interview capture her experiences of working in the legal profession, which is currently still in edit and will be published soon. We are honoured to share the details of her experiences and journey working in the legal profession. The journey of women in law was […]
This week we heard the sad news that Frances Murphy – the former corporate head at Slaughter and May - has died after a long illness.
In 2004 Dame Linda Dobbs became the first black person appointed as judge of the High Court, commenting that she was confident that she was the first of many to come. In this iconic interview she describes her experiences of the legal world throughout her career.
First 100 Years organised a flagship event, the SPARK21 on 2nd November 2015, with confirmed keynote speaker Professor Dame Carol Black, and chair of the day Dame Jenni Murray from Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. First 100 Years is a ground-breaking research project launched by Obelisk Support in partnership with the Law Society and the Bar […]
Chakrabarti was born to Hindu-Bengali parents in the suburb of Kenton in the London Borough of Harrow. Her father, a bookkeeper, has been cited by Chakrabarti as an influence on her gaining an interest in civil liberties. She attended Bentley Wood High School, a girls’ comprehensive school, then Harrow Weald Sixth Form College. Chakrabarti was […]
First 100 Years is launching a campaign to fund the filming of 100 individual stories of leading women in law as it looks to build the UK’s first digital museum dedicated to the journey of women in the legal profession. This is a ground-breaking project that has the support of all corners of the profession.
This month saw the launch of the First 100 Years’ In Conversation series, which brings together two leading lawyers from across the profession to talk about the key issues surrounding women in law. Our first event posed the question ‘How Can Innovation and Diversity Shape the Legal Profession’.
Baroness Janet Cohen talks to the First 100 Years about her journey in law.