Margaret McCabe

Published 22nd August 2014

Born in Queensland, Australia, Margaret’s journey to prominence in the legal profession has taken her to the other side of the world, with an enormous amount of hard work required to get her there. As one of six children born into a working class family, Margaret’s work ethic was instilled into her at a young age, and has neither wavered nor waned since. Studying at the University of Queensland, Margaret was shocked to discover that the pass rate for women was 75 percent, whilst for men it was only 50. Observing this and other such injustices proved formative in the reinforcement of Margaret’s belief that the legal profession did not treat women correctly. This belief, coupled with her tremendous work ethic, served as the impetus which propelled Margaret throughout her career.

Margaret moved to London to study law at King’s College, and, having graduated, she set her mind to becoming a barrister. The reception with which she was met shocked Margaret, who was consistently told that as a woman, and in particular as an Australian one, she would not succeed at the Bar. Despondent, she complied with the advice of others and took up her articles at Lovell White and King. After a year here, though, she realised that this was not the best environment for her, and Margaret’s ambition of becoming a barrister was renewed, and her efforts were redoubled. A testament to her determination and stoicism, Margaret was accepted into the Middle Temple, and, having passed her Bar exams, was selected for pupillage in Stone Buildings. From here, Margaret’s ascendancy was rapid, gaining tenancy at a Chambers (having applied, in typically thorough fashion, to every single one in London) and going from strength to strength in the field.

This ascendancy, though, ground to a halt after the birth of her daughter. Put simply, court clerks now deemed her unable to carry out her job to her previous capacity, and stopped giving her work. Not one to dither over a difficult decision, Margaret set upon orchestrating a segue into public law. Inspired by her own experiences, Margaret also decided to set up the Women Lawyers’ Forum in 1995, conceived as a way for women to come together and discuss their experiences in the changing legal landscape, and for more senior women to advise their younger counterparts. The WLF continues to grow, and is held in extremely high stead within the legal profession – a testament to the undeterrably hard work of a woman who refused to listen when told that she would not succeed.

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