A reception with Baroness Hale

Posted on 14 December 2018

"In my view, diverse courts are better courts."

In December 1904, Emmeline Pankhurst's daughter was refused admission to the bar because of her gender. Today, the President of the Supreme Court is a woman. This summer we celebrated 100 years of #womeninlaw with Baroness Hale and Dana Denis-Smith of First 100 Years and Spark21.

Mishcon Academy
Women in Law: Baroness Hale

Claudine Adeyemi
Associate in Real Estate, Mishcon de Reya

We are celebrating tonight in conjunction with first 100 years and we are really, really excited to have had Baroness Hale join us for a keynote speech.

“Most of the progress women have made in the profession has been in my professional lifetime.”

Dana Denis Smith
First 100 Years

She became the first woman to preside over the Supreme Court. She was the first woman to be a law Lord which is you know again the predecessor of the Supreme Court. She made it feel possible for women that they can achieve what she’s achieved. 

Sophie Leppington
Mishcon Trainee

Baroness Hale was basically explaining her experiences in law and how it wasn’t necessarily the easiest of starts for her as a female going into the legal industry but definitely talking about how times have changed a lot and how there is a lot more opportunities for women but there is still a lot more to do.

“It is much better than it was 10 year ago, but still nowhere near good enough.”

Claudine Adeyemi
Associate in Real Estate, Mishcon de Reya

Baroness Hale is a huge inspiration, particularly to the up and coming generation of aspiring lawyers and particularly those from kind of underrepresented groups, so women, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and the like. She is super passionate about making sure that the profession is representative particularly including those groups and she has obviously achieved incredible things in her own career journey and so is admired for those achievements.

“The bar is a fighting profession.  The main thing you have to know as a barrister is when to fight and when not to fight.”

Sophie Leppington
Mishcon Trainee

Baroness Hale has definitely put forward that it doesn’t matter what your background is there is definitely room in law for everyone and if it is something you are interested in you should definitely go for it and take the opportunities.

Dana Denis Smith
First 100 Years

I always put things in the historic context.  A hundred years ago today, women could not be lawyers because they weren’t considered persons to be accepted to be lawyers.  So in less than 100 years we have a woman at the very top of the profession so we have to understand that the barrier to women isn’t coming in but it’s rising up.  I always try to find a shared sense of humour when she talks and you know there’s always candid stories. 

Charlotte Hughes
Association of Women Barristers

She spoke a lot about the wider context of women travelling through the legal profession and placed her experiences of what she had done and what barriers she had overcome personally within that time line.

“We do need a system which is capable of recognising merit I many different places, not just those from which the judiciary has traditionally been appointed.” 

Claudine Adeyemi
Associate in Real Estate, Mishcon de Reya

Baroness Hale shared with us that she doesn’t believe in positive discrimination as such because she believes that everyone should be able to achieve their roles on merit.  So I think there are changes that need to be made in terms of accessibility, the kind of culture and mind-set of the leaders in the profession probably needs to change as well and a kind of more holistic view of the importance of having a diverse and inclusive profession that benefits everyone.

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