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 but hated it, and that was bad for the children I had to teach. Then I took a secretarial course, hoping to get a job as a political secretary. During my war work at the Military Permit Office, however, I met Mr Alfred Baker, to whom I am articled. He told me that he would give me a post in his office after the war without thinking of making me a solicitor. The War Office offered me work in Constantinople however and I took that. When I returned, the Women’s Sex Disqualification Bill had been passed and Mr Baker agreed to waive a premium to give me a salary for my work as solicitor’s clerk.”
“The rough and tumble”
“Some of the solicitors tell me that I shall have a big divorce practice, but that is just what I do not want. Another solicitor said, however, that women do not mind going to a man with divorce cases so that they will not necessarily flock to me. I like common law best – litigation in the kind’s bench. I like the knotty points in commercial cases. Men say the law is too rough and tumble for women but I’ve had that in the Permit office. I like crime also; I think a woman solicitor would e useful in crimes which come under the Children Act.”
Just a few years into women being allowed to take the Law Society examinations to become solicitors and to embark on their articles, the number of women applying was considerably less than expected.
Carrie Morrison was of the view that women were prevented from applying by the prohibitive cost: “It is thought that the cost of becoming a solicitor- about £1000 – is proving too great a handicap at the present time”.