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Exploring the first century of women in the UK’s legal profession

Ldy HaleTwo Law School academics have created a biographical timeline of the first female judges as a free resource on digital learning platform OpenLearn.

Dr Caroline Derry and Carol Howells celebrate the centenary of women’s entry into the legal profession in the UK and recognise the contributions that have been made in the last 100 years, enabling the reader to learn more about the struggles and achievements along the way.

The passing of an Act of Parliament – the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 – opened up access to the legal profession for women. A series of firsts swiftly followed, with all four home nations having women lawyers by 1923. The year 2023 is not the last significant centenary, however, as the first women judges were still some years away despite women magistrates sitting in increasing numbers after the 1919 Act came into force.

Lady Hale (pictured) is one of those to feature – she became the first woman Law Lord in 2004 and then the UK’s most senior judge in 2017 when she was made President of the Supreme Court.

You can access ‘Biography of the first female judges’ on OpenLearn.

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