Maria Rye sets up a law stationer’s business in Lincoln’s Inn to provide employment to young women.
The office trained women clerks in copying legal documents. Legal copying required skill and accuracy, and was a trade appropriate for women as it was seen as ‘lighter’; they could sit, rather than stand. Good handwriting was required, seen as a skill appropriate for women. Born in London in 1829, Maria Rye was the eldest […]
Maria Grey, founder of the Women’s Educational Union, and 91 other women petition unsuccessfully to attend lectures at Lincoln’s Inn.
A Small Group for the Promotion of Legal Education for Women is founded.
Janet Wood (Girton College, Cambridge) is the first woman to complete a law degree in the UK.
At the time, women were obliged to take a “Special Exam for Women” of equivalent standard to the men’s degree exam, in which she obtained first-class honours. Women were not granted degrees at Cambridge until 1947.
University College London becomes the first university to admit women to law on equal footing to men.
Henry Morley, Professor of English, commented that 'I need not say how strongly I feel that it is the business of (UCL) to be boldly first in recognising fully any new and real want of time'.
Women could take their places alongside men at UCL and examinations were opened to them as well. An 1882 Punch edition celebrated this with a verse:
Traditions of the bygone days
Are cast aside, old rules are undone;
In Convocation Woman sways
The University of London.
Eliza Orme applies for, and is refused, permission to take the Law Society’s exams to become a solicitor.
Helen Taylor is the first woman parliamentary candidate.
Eliza Orme becomes the first woman to earn a law degree in England.
Eliza Orme (1848-1937) was the first woman in England to earn a law degree, in 1888 at University College London. She was 39 years old and already unofficially ‘practicing’ law out of an office in London’s Chancery Lane, where she and a colleague prepared the paperwork for property transactions, patent registrations, wills, settlements, and mortgages. […]
Letitia Walkington is the first woman in the UK to graduate with an LL.D i.e. Doctor of Laws.
Letitia received her LLB from the Royal University of Ireland in Dublin. However, she was unable to secure a suitable position as a solicitor or join the bar, and turned to coaching other young women for their examinations to remedy the limited opportunities for women in schools.
Cornelia Sorabji becomes the first woman at Oxford University to sit the Bachelor of Civil Law examinations.
Cornelia Sorabji was the first female graduate from Bombay University and was the first woman and the first Indian national to study the postgraduate BCL degree at Oxford University. However, she would not receive her degree until thirty years later with the passage of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act. She was the first female advocate […]
Reina Lawrence receives her LL.B (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of London.
However, she could not qualify as a solicitor until after the 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act. She went on to become the first woman councillor in London.
Bertha Cave applies to be admitted to Gray’s Inn.
In March 1903, Bertha Cave applied to be admitted as a student to Gray’s Inn, for the purpose of being called to the Bar. This was the first time a woman had applied to an Inn with the express purpose of being called to the Bar. The Benchers were initially receptive to the application, however, […]
Christabel Pankhurst graduates with an LLB from the Victoria University, Manchester.
She was the first woman to graduate from the Victoria University, Manchester (now the University of Manchester), and the only woman studying law throughout her degree 1903-6. She received first-class honours.
Edward Bell proposes to a hostile Law Society that women be allowed to become solicitors.
Bebb v The Law Society
Bebb v The Law Society was an unsuccessful legal action by Gwyneth Bebb and three other women, Maud Crofts, Karin Costelloe and Lucy Nettlefold, to get the Law Society to admit them to its preliminary examinations, on the basis that women were a ‘person’ within the meaning of the Solicitors Act 1843, and so was […]
Nancy Astor MP first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.
On 28th November 1919, Nancy Astor became the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons after she was elected MP for Plymouth Sutton. An American citizen who moved to England aged 26, she married Waldorf Astor. After he succeeded to become Viscount Astor and joined the House of Lords, Nancy stood […]
Ada Summers becomes the first female magistrate.
Ada Jane Summers became the first British woman to sit as a magistrate. She was also the first female councillor and mayor of Stalybridge. Born in Oldham in 1861, she married John Summers of John Summers & Sons Steelworks in 1881. After John’s death in 1910, Ada was elected as a Liberal Party councillor in […]
Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 passes, allowing women to enter the legal profession.
This law ensured women’s entry into the professions for the first time, after a protracted legal battle. It also stipulated that women would receive their degrees from universities on completion of study, and that women could act on juries and as magistrates.
Georgina Frost becomes the first woman to hold public office in UK.
Georgina Frost became an Irish court official, the first woman to hold public office in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Between 1909 and 1915, Frost helped her father Thomas Frost, who worked as a petty sessions clerk in Co. Clare, Ireland. When he retired, Georgina was appointed to succeed him by the […]
First female jurors in England sworn in at Bristol Quarter Sessions.
On the 29th July 1920, the first female jurors in England were sworn in at Bristol Quarter Sessions. Women had been summoned to Colchester Quarter Sessions earlier that year, but this was the first time women actually served on a jury. The jurors heard evidence in the case against William Henry Ayton, accused of stealing […]
Madge Easton Anderson becomes the first female solicitor in the UK.
© Mitchell Library, Glasgow Madge Easton Anderson was the first woman admitted to practise as a professional lawyer in the UK, after qualifying as a solicitor in Scotland. Born in Glasgow on 24th April 1896, her father Robert Easton made surgical instruments. Whilst studying for her MA, BL and LLB at the University of Glasgow, […]
First Female Jurors in Scotland Sworn in at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
The first female jurors sat in Edinburgh Sheriff Court and heard five cases of industrial accidents. The Scotsman reported the revolutionary event: “The gentler sex… have now entered into the prerogative of the men, and shared the duty of weighing evidence and returning verdicts”, and commented that the women seemed “keenly interested in their new […]
Frances Kyle and Averill Deverell are the first women to be called to the Irish Bar.
Margaret Haig Thomas, Viscountess Rhondda, is denied a seat in the House of Lords.
Margaret Haig Mackworth, neé Thomas, was a Welsh peeress and suffragette. Upon her father’s death, Viscountess Rhondda tried to take his seat in the House of Lords, citing the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which allowed women to enter “any public office”. The Lords’ Committee of Privileges voted strongly against her plea, and she never […]
Ivy Williams is the first woman to be called to the English Bar.
Dr Ivy Williams was the first woman to be called to the English Bar on the 10th May 1922, although she never practised as a barrister, instead becoming the first woman to teach law at an English university. Williams studied law at the Society of Oxford Home Students, and was the third female law student […]
Helena Normanton becomes the first woman to practise as a barrister in England.
She was called to the Bar in November 1922 at Middle Temple, just a few months after Ivy Williams. Normanton went on to become the first female counsel in cases in the High Court of Justice, and the first woman to obtain a divorce for a client.
Carrie Morrison, Maud Crofts, Mary Pickup and Mary Sykes first women to pass the Law Society examinations.
On 18th December, Carrie Morrison became the first woman to be admitted as a solicitor in England. For women who did not have fathers or husbands who were lawyers it was often financially impossible for them to get articles. Mary Sykes followed her, becoming the second female solicitor and went on to be a Justice […]
Mary Dorothea Heron becomes the first woman admitted as a solicitor in Ireland.
Mary Dorothea Heron became the first woman admitted as a solicitor in Ireland, although she never took out a practising certificate. She worked at her uncle’s firm in Belfast until 1946, mainly doing probate work.
Mithan Tata becomes the first practising female Indian barrister.
In 1923 Mithan Tata became the first woman called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn and the first practising Indian woman barrister. She would have been remarkable in any era, but for those times she was extraordinary. Mithan was born into a Parsi family in Maharashtra in 1898 and spent her childhood in different parts […]
Matrimonial Causes Act
This meant that women could also appeal for divorce on the sole basis of adultery; previously only men could make this claim.
Agnes Twiston Hughes first female solicitor to qualify in Wales.
She joined her father’s practice, JW Hughes & Co. which was founded in 1903. In 1949 she became its sole principal, and continued to practise until her retirement in 1961. In her retirement, she became a local Councillor and the Mayor of Conwy.
Ethel Mary Colman becomes first female Lord Mayor in England.
Ethel was appointed the first Lady Lord Mayor of Norwich in 1923. She was the daughter of Jeremiah J. Colman, the famous mustard manufacturer, who had previously been mayor. Ethel was the director of a missionary society, and one of the first women deacons in a Congregational church, at Princes’ Street. She and her sister, […]
Margaret Kidd is called to the Faculty of Advocates, becoming its first female member.
Margaret Kidd was the first female member of the Faculty of Advocates, and remained the only female advocate in Scotland for over 25 years until she was joined by Isabel Sinclair. She was also the first female advocate to appear before the House of Lords and before a parliamentary select committee, and the first female […]
Helena Normanton becomes first married British woman to be issued a passport in her maiden name.
She preserved her maiden name for professional reasons, believing that men and women should keep their money and property separate. In this year she was also the first female counsel in a case at the Old Bailey. Helen went on to become the first woman to obtain a divorce for her client, the first woman to lead the prosecution in a murder trial, and the first woman to conduct a trial in America.
Daw Phar Hmee becomes the first Burmese female barrister.
Daw Phar Hmee is remembered for being the first Burmese woman to become a barrister in 1925. Born in 1902, she was the eldest daughter of a well respected civil servant in Rangoon. After studying at University College, Rangoon, Phar Hmee came to London, to study for the Bar. In 1924, she applied to become […]
Edith Berthen joins firm as one of first women to qualify as a solicitor (Hill Dickinson).
In 2010, Hill Dickinson was ranked as the sixth most female-friendly firm.
May Samuel becomes the first Jewish woman to graduate Leeds University
May Samuel graduates Leeds University, aged 19, becoming the first Jewish woman to graduate Leeds University. She is also likely to have been the youngest woman to gain a qualifying law degree.
Bar Council announces women barristers can practice under their maiden name
The Bar Council announces barristers can practice under their maiden name so that “they are not deprived of the professional reputation acquired as spinsters”.
Stella Thomas becomes the first West African woman to be called to the Bar.
Stella Thomas became the first West African woman to be called to the Bar by Middle Temple on 19th May 1933. Stella graduated from Oxford University with a law degree and also became the first female Magistrate in Nigeria
Rose Heilbron becomes the first woman to be awarded a scholarship at Gray’s Inn
Rose Heilbron, a woman of many firsts, becomes the first woman to be awarded a scholarship at Gray’s Inn.
Rose Heilbron is called to the Bar
Rose Heilbron, who went on to be one of the first two women to be made King’s Counsel, the first female recorder and the first female judge of the Old Bailey, was called to the Bar in 1939, beginning the start of what would be an incredible and pioneering career.
Frances Moran becomes the first female Regius Professor of Laws in Ireland.
The Regius Professorship of Laws was founded in 1668 and is one of the oldest chairs at Trinity College Dublin. She was called to the Bar in 1924 and took silk in 1941. She was the guest of the Sydney University Women Graduates' Association in 1953
Sybil Campbell becomes the first woman to be appointed to the professional judiciary full-time.
Sybil Campbell was the first woman to be appointed to the professional judiciary full-time in Britain, when she became a stipendiary magistrate at Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court in 1945. She remained the only full-time female professional magistrate or judge in England until she retired in 1961.
Edith Hesling becomes the first woman to preside over a County Court.
Edith presides as a Deputy at Macclesfield in 1946. Her application for full appointment, however, was later not accepted. Edith was also the first woman called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1923.
Margaret Kidd is appointed the first King’s Counsel in the United Kingdom.
Margaret Kidd is appointed King’s Counsel in Scotland, the first woman in the United Kingdom to be appointed. At the time, she was still the only female advocate in Scotland. The Scotsman remarked “As the only woman in a hitherto masculinely exclusive and exclusively manly fraternity, and a naturally conservative one at that, her presence […]
Dame Rose Heilbron and Helena Normanton become the first two women appointed King’s Counsel at the English Bar.
Rose Heilbron was just 34 when she made silk.
Dame Rose Heilbron becomes the first woman to lead an English murder case.
As the first woman to lead in a murder case in 1950, Rose defended George Kelly in the infamous “Cameo cinema murder”, a case which captured the attention of the nation and led to the Daily Mirror naming Rose as ‘Woman of the Year’. Although she was unable to save Kelly from the gallows, the […]
Dame Rose Heilbron becomes first appointed woman Recorder (Burnley).
Photo © National Portrait Gallery
Dame Elizabeth Lane appointed first female judge in the County Court.
She was called to the bar in 1940 at Inner Temple, and became the third female King’s Counsel in 1950. She appeared in the official calendar as 'Mr. Commissioner, Elizabeth Kathleen Lane QC.'
Eileen Kennedy is appointed the first female judge in Ireland.
There were said to be court rooms full of people who had come to witness the novelty of a female judge. Judge Eileen Kennedy also created another precedent by being the first female to sit in a court with her head uncovered. Judge Mary Kotsonouris, a solicitor's apprentice at the time, remembers the 'frisson of excitement at such daring'.
Elizabeth Lane appointed High Court judge, the first woman to achieve this position.
She was assigned to Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division. From 1971 she chaired a committee investigating the operation of the Abortion Act. She is credited with finally introducing ‘Your Ladyship’ into the legal vocabulary after years of being addressed as ‘My Lord’ in court.
Claire Palley becomes the first female law professor in a UK university.
She became a professor of law at Queen's University Belfast.
Dame Rose Heilbron becomes first woman judge to sit at the Old Bailey.
A year later she became leader of the northern Circuit and then became the second woman High Court Judge in 1974. Despite her background in criminal cases, she was assigned to the Family Division.
Barbara Calvert QC becomes first female head of chambers in the Temple.
She set up chambers at 4 Brick Court in 1974 with the intention of taking on legal aid work, representing those who would otherwise be unable to afford seeking justice in the courts. Four women were founding members, and the chambers became known as ‘the Monstrous Regimen of Women’. She was chairwoman of the Grandparents’ […]
Sex Discrimination Act
This made it illegal for a company to employ or promote a male worker with fewer qualifications or less experience than a female worker. It also prevented companies from demoting employees upon their return from paternity or maternity leave, and punished companies for not offering women employment on the basis of the nature of the work being inappropriate e.g. physical. It also specified types of sexual harassment, which were unacceptable. It was repealed in 2010 with the Equality Act.
The Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act passes.
Police given more powers to arrest and increased court protection of battered wives.
There was also a 16% female intake at the Bar this year,the first time that it was over 10%, marking a significant increase in women pursuing careers as barristers
Mella Caroll becomes the first woman to practise at the Inner Bar in Ireland.
She was a Senior Counsel in the Bar of Ireland.
Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female PM of the United Kingdom.
Thatcher read for the Bar before being elected as the Conservative MP for Finchley in 1959. She held junior posts before becoming Shadow Spokesperson for Education, and entered the Cabinet as Education Secretary in 1970. In 1979, the Conservative Party won the General Election and Thatcher became PM, taking over from James Callaghan.
Mella Caroll becomes first woman judge of the Irish High Court.
During her career on the High Court she made several important rulings on controversial cases involving abortion, unmarried mothers, and bin charging. She never married.
Dame Catherine Fiona Woolf DBE JP becomes the first female partner at city firm CMS Cameron McKenna.
She was a specialist legal advisor on major infrastructure developments and was involved with the 1985 treaty agreements between French and British governments about the Channel Tunnel. Her contribution to the legal profession was recognised with her appointment to Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple.
Lady Hale becomes first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission.
Important work from the Commission includes the Children’s Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She was also the youngest person to ever be appointed to the Law Commission.
Dame Rose Heilbron becomes first woman treasurer at Gray’s Inn.
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss is the first woman appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal.
She had chaired Cleveland child abuse inquiry the year before. Until 2004 she was the highest-ranking female judge in the UK, having chaired inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed.
Barbara Mills becomes the first female Director of the Serious Fraud Office.
She held this post for six years, presiding over a staff of 6000. She became one of only four in her school year group to attend university, where in 1959 she made up no less than half of the cohort of just two law students at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Mary Robinson elected as the first female president of Ireland.
'The future began at the moment Mary Robinson was elected' is a summary of her presidency shared by many. She won the right for women to sit on juries, abolished the requirement that women must resign from the civil service on marriage, and achieved the legal availability of contraception, equal economic rights, and the right to divorce.
Madeleine Elizabeth Wall, first female General Counsel of a FTSE100 business.
Elizabeth practised law in-house as General Counsel in the UK and the USA for several years before establishing her global consultancy, Elizabeth Wall Partners International LLC.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal becomes the first black woman to be appointed to Queen’s Counsel.
She was 35 years old, making her the youngest person in over 200 years to take silk. She specialised in family and children’s law at Middle Temple. She went on to serve as a member of the Commission for Racial Equality and received a life peerage in 1997.
Barbara Mills becomes the first female Director of Public Prosecutions.
She also served as the second head of the Crown Prosecution Service, presiding over a staff of 6,000. She worked as Director until her resignation in 1998. Her six-year stint in this role was not without controversy, coming at a time when public confidence in the organisation was at a low ebb, and Barbara was […]
Nicola Davies becomes the first female Welsh QC.
Specialising in medical negligence law, she represented Harold Shipman in one of the most high-profile criminal cases of the decade. She takes an interest in events with a Welsh connection and is proud of her heritage. Nicola is described as having 'broken many glass ceilings', and is acknowledged as the highest medical defence QC in the UK.
Betty Boothroyd becomes first female Speaker of the House of Commons.
Baroness Boothroyd was a Labour MP for West Bromwick and West Bromwick West from 1973 to 1992. She was the first female Speaker. There was some debate over whether Boothroyd should wear the traditional Speaker's wig upon her election and she chose not to, stating that subsequent Speakers would be free to choose whether or not to wear it. Tony Blair called her something of a national institution.
Dame Mary Arden becomes the first female High Court Judge assigned to the Chancery Division.
She previously chaired the Law Commission from 1996-99. In 2013, BBC Radio 4’s programme Woman’s Hour called her one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom.
Eileen Pembridge becomes the first woman to stand for the presidency of the Law Society of England & Wales.
Eileen qualified as a solicitor in 1975 and co-founded the firm Fisher Meredith. While at the firm, she campaigned for new domestic violence legislation, which was passed in 1976.
Baroness Rosalyn Higgins first woman elected to International Court of Justice.
She studied at Girton College, Cambridge, and at Yale Law School. She practised as a barrister and became Queen's Counsel in 1986, a bencher of Inner Temple. She has authored several influential works on international law, including Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It (1994). She has received at least thirteen honorary doctorates.
Dame Heather Carol Hallett is elected the first woman to chair the Bar Council.
She had been vice-chair in 1997, and went on to become Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 2011.
Lynda Margaret Clark appointed the first Advocate General for Scotland.
Lynda Margaret Clark, Baroness Clark of Calton, PC, QC (born 26th February 1949) was formerly the Labour MP for Edinburgh Pentlands. She became the first Advocate General for Scotland after the position was created in 1999, and continued until 2006, whereupon she became a Judge of the Court of Session in Scotland.
Fidelma O’Kelly Macken first female judge on the European Court of Justice.
She was the first female appointee, and had her mandate renewed in 2003 after her initial five-year term. Mary McAleese appointed her.
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss becomes the first female President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice.
In 2006 it was announced that she would become one of seven new life peers in the House of Lords.
In the same year Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond became the second female Justice of Appeal and the first woman Law Lord.
Diana Parker becomes the first female Chairman of Withers (a law firm in the top 100).
She co-founded the Family Mediators Association to extend the ambit of mediation to include finances as well as child related issues. She was the youngest and first woman to be appointed Chairman by any of the country’s top 100 law firms.
Dame Mary Arden becomes the third Female Judge on the Court of Appeal.
She has questioned the reasons for the recent lack of women appointed to the Court of Appeal.
Harriet Harman becomes the first woman Law Officer, appointed Solicitor General.
She had been Legal Officer to Liberty in the past, taking the first cases for women under the then new Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts. She campaigned for prisoners' rights. As Solicitor General she led a drive within Government to tackle domestic violence as a priority, leading to a new law.
Dame Janet Hilary Smith, DBE, becomes the fourth Female Justice of Appeal.
She was also President of the Council of the Inns of Court and prepared the high profile Shipman Inquiry, a report on the activities of a serial killer. She also held a public inquiry in 1991 into reported abuse of autistic children in Lancaster. In 2012 she was appointed to lead an inquiry into the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse charges.
Carolyn Kirby elected the first female President of the Law Society of England and Wales.
Since 1999 she had also been President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales and was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Honours list.
Hazel Aronson, Lady Cosgrove, the first female judge in Scotland.
The Court of Session is the civil equivalent of the Court of Criminal Appeal. She was determined to study law whilst at school in Glasgow, but was told even in 1966 that her intention to join the Faculty of Advocates was a mistake because the bar was not a place for a woman. She was also a member of the parole board for Scotland, chairwoman of the Mental Welfare Commission, and deputy chairman of the Boundaries Commission.
Sharmishta ‘Shami’ Chakrabarti CBE is appointed Director of Liberty.
Liberty is a pressure group that campaigns against excessive anti-terroristic measures after the 11th September attacks on the United States. She had worked as a barrister for the Home Office since 1996, having been called to the bar in 1994, after which she joined Middle Temple. In 2014 she was named in the Sunday Times’ ‘100 Makers of the 21st Century’ List.
Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs is appointed a judge of the High Court, the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary in England and Wales.
She was included in the list of Britain’s 10 most powerful women and is a patron of the African Prisons Project. She specialised in fraud and professional disciplinary tribunals and chaired the Professional Standards Committee of the Bar Council.
Lady Hale is first woman to join the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
She was also a Professor of Law at Manchester University and received an Honorary doctorate from Glasgow University. More recently she gave a public lecture on the Protection of Human Rights in UK courts.
Karen Richardson becomes the first female Master of The City of London Solicitors’ Company.
Karen Richardson was the first female Master of the Worshipful Company of Solicitors of the City of London, in its 100th year, and the first female President of the City of London Law Society. Other “firsts” include at university, where she was elected as the first female President of the Oxford University Law Society; in […]
Dame Elish Frances Angiolini becomes the first woman to be appointed Lord Advocate for Scotland.
In 2006, Dame Elish Angiolini DBE PC QC FRSA FRSE was appointed Lord Advocate in Scotland, the first woman and the first solicitor to hold the position. Brought up in a working-class family in Glasgow, Angiolini read law at Strathclyde University, later serving as a Procurator Fiscal in Glasgow and Airdrie. In 1997, Angiolini became […]
June Venters is appointed the first female solicitor Queen’s Counsel (Venters Solicitors).
She founded Venters solicitors in 1991, a highly reputable firm, and she also sat as a Recorder in the Crown Court and County Court. In recognition of her commitment and dedication she was nominated for Law Society Solicitor of the Year in 2007.
Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal becomes the first woman appointed Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland.
The office had existed since 1315, and in this role Baroness Scotland served as chief legal advisor to the Queen, Parliament, and the Government, as well as other bodies. She was involved in creating the Quintet, bringing together international Attorney Generals to consider issues of joint concern.
June Venters becomes the first woman solicitor to become a Door Tenant with a Barristers Chambers at Lamb Building.
This was a significant step forwards for the future collaboration of solicitors and barristers. She was a patron of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers Association and a Committee Member of the College of Law.
Baroness Hale appointed the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court.
She has had a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer, and judge. She specialised in Family and Social Welfare Law and was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.
The first female Muslim MPs are elected.
Labour candidates Shabana Mahmood and Yasmin Qureshi were elected in the general election of 2010. Shabana Mahmood won the constituency for Birmingham Ladywood and Yasmin Qureshi was the candidate for Bolton South East. A record of 22 Asian women stood in that election for all three main parties. Shabana is a former Oxford graduate and barrister and stood against another female Asian candidate for the Conservatives, Nusrat Chani. Qureshi, a Pakistani-born criminal barrister was chosen from an open shortlist of six candidates.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi becomes the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet.
Baroness Warsi studied Law at Leeds University and went on to work for the Crown Prosecution Service. She also became the first Muslim to serve as a Cabinet minister in 2010 and was appointed as a chair of the Conservative party, the first Asian in this position. in 2009 she was named 'Britain's most powerful Muslim woman'.
Lady Justice Heather Hallett DBE becomes the first female Vice-President of the Queen’s Bench Division.
She had previously been the Vice-President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. She was the fifth woman to sit in the Court of Appeal, and was named as the 8th most powerful woman in Britain in 2013.
Susan Denham becomes the first Chief Justice on the Irish Supreme Court.
She is the first woman and first Protestant to hold the office of Chief Justice
Gabrielle Turnquest becomes youngest person in 600 years to qualify as a barrister.
She was the youngest person in the UK to be called to the bar in 600 years. Originally from the Bahamas, she grew up in Florida, and came to London to become a barrister.
Lady Hale appointed deputy president of the UK’s Supreme Court.
The number of women practicing as solicitors overtake men for the first time.
Record-breaking statistics show that 4,623 women compared to 4,609 men were practicing as solicitors in Ireland.
Nicola Sturgeon elected First Minister of Scotland, the first woman to be in this position.
Nicola Sturgeon read law at the University of Glasgow and worked as a solicitor for Bell & Craig in Stirling, and then at the Drumchapel Law Centre, before being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Sonya Leydecker is the first female CEO of leading law firm (Herbert Smith Freehills).
Before this, she had headed the firm’s global dispute resolution practise for 8 years and is recognised as a leading practitioner with significant expertise in cross-border disputes.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Patricia Scotland elected the 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, the first woman to hold the position.
She is also a patron of CFAB; Children and Families Across Borders, a charity that reunites children separated from their parents. In 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, and has received numerous awards for her contribution to law reform in the UK and abroad.
Ingrid Simler becomes the first woman president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
She was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1987 and was appointed QC in 2006. She has sat regularly on appeals in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and will be the first woman to be appointed as President since its creation in 1975.
Leeona Dorrian first woman to become the Lord Justice Clerk: most senior woman in Scottish legal history.
Leeona Dorrian, Lady Dorrian, graduated from Aberdeen University, and has served as a judge of the supreme courts since 2005. Christine McLintock, president of Law society of Scotland, said the appointment was a significant step forward for equality and diversity, also calling Leeona a wonderful role model.
Elizabeth Truss becomes the first female Chancellor.
Elizabeth Truss was appointed the first female Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice by Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She is the first woman to be in this role since its creation in May 1707.
Lady Black of Derwent DBE is appointed to the Supreme Court
She becomes the second woman Justice of the Court. Lady Black was called to the Bar in 1976 by Inner Temple. She specialised in family law and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1994.
Lady Justice Macur becomes first female Senior Presiding Judge.
In April 2017 Dame Julia Macur became the first female Senior Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales since the role was created in 1983.
Lady Hale is appointed first woman President of UK Supreme Court.
Her appointment as Supreme Court president makes her the first woman to reach that level in the judiciary.
Lady Arden of Heswall DBE is appointed to the Supreme Court.
She becomes its third woman ever Justice.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom sees its first female-majority panel hear a case.
The UK’s highest court sees its first ever majority-female panel of judges, with Lady Hale, Lady Black and Lady Arden sitting as three out of five judges to hear the case Re D.
This year marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
The Act removed the legal bar to women practising as lawyers and sitting as judges for the first time. First 100 Years leads the national celebrations.
Elizabeth Johnson becomes the first female Chartered Legal Executive to be appointed a judge.
Elizabeth was appointed as a Fee-paid Judge of the First-tier Tribunal on 25 January 2019.
I. Stephanie Boyce is elected Deputy Vice President of the Law Society.
This means she will go on to become the first non-white President when she takes up the post in 2021.
First 100 Years donates the artwork ‘Legacy’ to the Supreme Court
The piece, by Turner-nominated artist Catherine Yass, is the first in the Supreme Court’s collection to feature women lawyers. It hangs in Courtroom 2, which saw the Court’s female-majority panel.
Raffia Arshad becomes the first Hijab-wearing judge in Britain.
She is appointed as a Deputy District Judge on the Midlands circuit.