Reflecting on 100 years of Women in Law

This year, we are celebrating the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. This law ensured women’s entry into professions for the first time, and finally allowed women to be admitted as solicitors.

“A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering or assuming or carrying on any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise), [and a person shall not be exempted by sex or marriage from the liability to serve as a juror]…”

In 1888, Eliza Orme became the first woman in England to obtain a Law degree but it was not until December 1922 when Carrie Morrison became the first woman to be admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Since this historic act, women have continued to thrive in the legal profession, and we are celebrating the progress of women’s causes over the century.

100 years on, the current President of the UK Supreme Court is Lady Hale, the first woman to hold this position.

“I always hope that there will continue to be the progress that has been made largely in this century with the proportion of women in the judiciary at all levels but of course particularly in the Supreme Court.”
– Lady Hale, speaking on the Emma Barnett Show, BBC Radio, 11 June 2019.

At Crane & Staples, we are proud to support equality and champion women in the workplace. Michele Rowe became the first female Partner at Crane & Staples in the year 2000. Currently, four of our seven Partners are women, and they are role-models for all junior members of staff.

In 2018, Senior Associate Attia Hussain became the first Asian woman to be elected President of the Hertfordshire Law Society, which was founded in 1883. The picture below shows her making her speech at the 2018 Herts Law Society dinner, where she highlighted the need for diversity in the profession.

We all have an opportunity and we have a responsibility, to do something to make a positive difference, to lead and open the gateway for those who think that their sex, their race, their disability, their sexual orientation, their culture or their class makes law inaccessible. We need to show them that it is accessible.
– Attia Hussain, Herts Law Society President’s Speech, 2018

When looking through photos of this year’s Herts Law Society dinner, we found the picture below to be extremely poignant, showing a trio of inspiring women at different stages in their legal careers.

Our very own Georgina Donnellan (left), the inaugural winner of the HLS Junior Lawyer of the Year, was presented her award by Judith Gower (centre), the President of the Herts Law Society, and Christina Blacklaws (right), the 174th President of the Law Society of England and Wales, but only the 5th woman to hold the position.

Everyone at Crane & Staples is grateful for the huge strides made by the pioneering women in the profession before us, and we look forward to being part of the next generation of successful women in Law.

 

Information from: https://first100years.org.uk/