Latest News

8th August 2017
Winner of the inaugural Inspirational Women in Law Award Keily Blair and then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Elizabeth Truss Nominations for the 2017 Inspirational Women in Law Award are now open! The Inspirational Women in Law Award seeks to identify the trailblazers of the profession, in the lead up to the [&hellip...
4th August 2017
Carrie Morrison, Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes and Maud Crofts were the first women to pass the Law Society’s examinations to qualify as solicitors in 1922. This was only possible following the passage of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which allowed women to enter into the legal profession. The four women had been waiting...
4th August 2017
The First 100 Years #OnTheRoll artefact is now on display at the Supreme Court. The limited edition toilet roll, one of only 100 in the world, tells of how law firms, chambers and other legal institutions had provided the lack of women’s lavatories as a reason for not promoting women to senior positions within...
28th July 2017
Almost 100 people joined us in celebrating the journey of women in law at the First 100 Years Summer Drinks on 27 July 2017. Hosted by Sidley Austin LLP at its beautiful office in the heart of London, guests were treated to an evening of insights into some of the inspiring female pioneers of the [&hellip...
28th July 2017
“I believe that the sex-exclusiveness of the legal profession is doomed. Women won’t stand it, and men, who have been learning a great deal lately about women’s capabilities, will not tolerate it either.” That was Helena Normanton’s prediction as she made her first application to be admitted...
21st July 2017
Frances Kyle and Averill Deverell became Ireland’s first women to be admitted to the Bar on November 1, 1921. Frances Kyle had completed her BA and LLB at Trinity College Dublin. She went on to win the John Brooke Scholarship, the top Irish students’ law prize, having come first in the class for the Bar...
20th July 2017
Dana Denis-Smith and Katie Broomfield The ‘Celebrating the Centenary of Women Lawyers’ exhibition was launched at the Old Hall in Lincoln’s Inn on 20 July 2017. The exhibition was created by First 100 Years Champaion Katie Broomfield as part of her MA in Public History at Royal Holloway, University of London...
14th July 2017
Dr Ivy Williams was the first woman to be called to the Bar of England and Wales. She had waited 17 years to receive her degree. Despite passing her law examinations in 1903 at Oxford University, she could not get the credit she deserved until after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. Universities could not [&hellip...
12th July 2017
If you attended the Spark 21 annual conference in 2015 and/or 2016, we want to hear from you. Looking ahead to the third annual Spark21 conference, ‘Women Leaders in Law,’ on 8 November 2017, we want your views on how we can continue to improve. Please take part in our short survey, which...
12th July 2017
Calling all students, trainees and pupils! The First 100 years is opening up 20 exclusive spaces for you to learn about the First 100 Years project, whilst mingling with leaders of the profession. On 27 July 2017, the First 100 years and Sidley Austin are hosting a drinks reception to celebrate women in law. The [&hellip...
7th July 2017
Georgina Frost (1879 –1939) was the first woman to hold public office in the UK. Her father, Thomas Frost, was a petty sessions clerk in County Clare, Ireland. In the six years immediately before Thomas Frost’s retirement, Georgina had assisted him in his duties, often performing them herself. When he retired, she was appointed...
30th June 2017
Are women simply too ‘nervous’ or emotional to serve as jurors? This was once believed to be the case. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 eliminated several barriers for women’s formal inclusion in public life, including by allowing them to act on juries. In 1920, the first female jurors were sworn in...
23rd June 2017
Women were not considered ‘persons’ within the meaning of the Solicitors Act of 1843. It sounds ludicrous but as recently as in 1913, the Court of Appeal cited this reason in agreeing with the Law Society that women should not be allowed to take the examinations to qualify as solicitors. Bebb v the Law...
16th June 2017
With 919 days to the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, the First 100 Years has launched an educational campaign on the legal women pioneers, the obstacles they faced, and the choices they made to succeed. As part of the countdown to 2019, the First 100 Years will publish an interesting snippet on [&hellip...
17th November 2016
Palpable expectation on Wednesday at the offices of Simmons & Simmons as the City of London law firm hosted an event at which the lord chancellor was scheduled to speak. Liz Truss was on the agenda at a conference marking the role of women in the legal profession, where she presented the “inspirational women in [&hellip...
15th November 2016
The Spark 21 Conference was featured in Legal Futures. The first ever female Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss MP, issued a “call to arms” at the Spark 21 Conference on November 9th 2016 to increase diversity on the bench. You can read the full story at Legal Futures...
15th November 2016
What does a Trump victory mean for female lawyers? Leading women lawyers – speaking at the Spark 21 Conference on November 9th 2016 – have expressed their concerns that Donald Trump’s victory in the race for US president will have a negative impact on the legal profession in this country. Read the full story at...
15th November 2016
The guest of honour at this year’s Spark 21 Conference was the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP. The gov.uk website has published the full transcript of her address to the audience, where she discusses her plans for diversifying the judicary, and the importance of equal opportunity...
15th November 2016
The Law Society Gazette discusses Liz Truss’ speech at the Spark 21 Conference In her first public appearance since coming under fire for a slow response to press attacks on the Article 50 judges, the Lord Chancellor has reasserted the importance of an independent judiciary. You can read the full story at The Law Society...
15th November 2016
The Solicitors Journal has discussed the Spark 21 panel on Donald Trump and Women in Law “The success of the controversial TV personality over the experienced Yale Law School graduate, New York senator, and secretary of state was the topic of discussion at the Spark 21 Women in Law conference in London this week, with...
8th August 2016
Written by Kerry Jack, CEO of Black Letter Communications. The First 100 Years, the ground-breaking project charting the journey of women in the legal profession, is today launching its Inspirational Women in Law Awards to identify and celebrate 10 women pioneers that will inspire the next generation of lawyers. The project is managed by Spark21...
27th July 2016
First 100 Years was featured in BCL Legal Recruitment. In the article, Dana Denis-Smith, founder of First 100 Years, spoke about the inspiration behind the project and how one can contribute to it. Click here to have a read...
15th July 2016
Legal Week wrote an article on our film of Frances Murphy, recording her stories and experiences of life as a city lawyer at Slaughter & May. Find a link to it below. Legal Week Article To see the video we filmed follow the link below: Frances Murphy...
15th July 2016
On 6th July the First 100 Years team was delighted to be able to attend the first memorial lecture of the Fawcett Society, celebrating 150 years of it’s tireless work campaigning for gender equality. A fascinating talk led by Amanda Foreman and chaired by Charlene White led to a thought-provoking discussion of the issues...
20th June 2016
On 16th June we welcomed a large cohort of guests to the Supreme Court, for a fantastic evening in a historical and beautiful setting. We were delighted to see many of our project champions there, and to have the opportunity to spread the message of what First 100 Years is doing and achieving. Several guided [&hellip...
8th June 2016
On Tuesday 7th June BBC Radio 4’s Joshua Rozenberg spoke to the project founder, Dana Denis-Smith, together with Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the first woman judge on the Court of Appeal, who is featured in one of the 100 original films commissioned by the project. The Radio 4 programme ‘Law In Action...
14th October 2015
Dana Denis-Smith is a former solicitor and international journalist who founded Obelisk Support, a unique and innovative global outsourcing business built around home-based, highly-skilled professionals with almost 1000 ex-City lawyers on their books (mainly experienced and talented mothers). She founded the First 100 years project to celebrate the journey of women in...
15th September 2015
The First 100 Years project was born out of a great need to highlight the certain invisibility and struggles that women in Law – and indeed across a myriad of professions – have faced. Since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919, when women were permitted to join professions for the first time, pioneering women [&hellip...
3rd September 2015
Who you are is really important – you’ve got to trust yourself Dana, founder of First 100 Years, talks to Andrew Weaver about the project Founder of the First 100 Years project Dana Denis-Smith spoke to Andrew Weaver, CEO of lawyerfair.co.uk, about the digital project. In their interview, Dana and Andrew...
26th August 2015
First 100 Years is pleased to announce the launch of In Conversation – a series of events which explore the current status of women in professions, through the lens of past experiences and individual journeys. Starting the series off on 30th September is How Can Innovation and Diversity Shape the Legal Profession?, with Dame Janet [&hellip...
24th July 2015
Wednesday we were pleased to host the author and magistrate Katharine McMahon for a special edition of Wednesday Live in collaboration with the First 100 Years project. Katharine McMahon spoke about her latest fictional tale, Evelyn Gifford, whose journey into law in 1920 is recorded in McMahon’s books The Crimson Rooms and The Woman in...
16th April 2015
Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the First 100 Years (www.first100years.org.uk) and founder and CEO of Obelisk Support. If you have not read the case of Bebb v Law Society (1914), I strongly urge you to do so. To an extent, the case should be made compulsory reading for all those entering the legal...
31st March 2015
The First 100 Years project launched earlier this month at the House of Lords in front of nearly 100 supporters from across the legal profession. The official launch marked the first year since I initiated this five-year project with the aim of creating the UK’s first digital museum dedicated to the history of women...
8th October 2014
On 1st October, fittingly tying in with the start of the new legal year, Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, hosted a breakfast to celebrate the role of Women in Law. The event took place within Mansion House, and Obelisk’s CEO Dana Denis-Smith was invited to talk about the First...
11th July 2014
The Law Gazette held a roundtable on Women in the Law. Some very interesting points on diversity were made, and the article also discusses the First 100 Years project: Despite an oft-stated commitment to fairness, the legal profession struggles with gender equality – with costs for all. The Gazette roundtable on Women in the Law [&hellip...
11th July 2014
Here’s another article about the project that recently featured in Legal Futures: A five-year project to celebrate the achievements of women lawyers has been launched, culminating at the centenary of the Act of Parliament which abolished the bar on their entry into the profession. First 100 Years, which is building a library of...
11th July 2014
It’s been a busy week for Dana, as she has also spoken with Chambers and Partners about the project: First 100 Years Project: Dana Denis-Smith on looking back and moving forward By Jethro Vevers | July 10, 2014 | Filed under: Chambers Women in Law Awards, Highlights, Opinion Pieces Dana Denis-Smith is no stranger...
11th July 2014
This week, Law Careers interviewed Dana about her inspiration behind the project. Here is their article: The First 100 Years, spearheaded by Obelisk, is a five-year project seeking to discover and promote the stories of innovative and pioneering women in the legal profession. The establishment of Obelisk, under the direction of Dana Denis-Smith, was...
3rd July 2014
Legal support company Obelisk have teamed up with the Law Society in an ambitious project to document and commemorate 100 years of women practicing law in Britain. The ‘First 100 Years Project‘, brainchild of Obelisk CEO and former Linklaters lawyer Dana Denis-Smith, aims to create an interactive library of inspirational stories from and about female...
26th March 2014
The First 100 Years 26 March 2014 It might be 2014, but we’re still hearing of firsts for women taking up roles in the legal profession. This year, Sonya Leydecker became the first female co-CEO of a leading law firm – Herbert Smith Freehills. She most certainly isn’t a lone female...