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Our Christmas Tree – 100 Years of Women in Law

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Our Christmas Tree – 100 Years of Women in Law

In December 1919, the British government passed the very first piece of equal opportunities legislation: the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act. This Act enabled women to join the legal profession for the first time. They could now become lawyers, sit on juries and become magistrates.

“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 […]

A woman shall be entitled to be admitted and enrolled as a solicitor after serving under articles for three years only if either she has taken such a university degree as would have so entitled her had she been a man, or if she has been admitted to and passed the final examination and kept, under the conditions required of women by the university, the period of residence necessary for a man to obtain a degree at any university which did not at the time the examination was passed admit women to degrees”.

At Crane & Staples, we have been reflecting on the first 100 years of women in law, how far women have come in the profession and what we hope women can achieve in the next 100 years.

Now, exactly 100 years on, we are very excited to unveil our entry for this year’s Christmas tree competition at St Francis Church: the 100 Years of Women in Law Tree.

Each bauble includes a photo and description of an inspirational woman in law, nominated by a staff member at Crane & Staples. We have included some of the early pioneers who became the first women to make significant achievements in the profession, a few of the most famous women in law today, as well as lawyers from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire who proudly represent people from the local area and deserve recognition for their hard work.

Legal Legends

Women who made significant achievements after the act was passed, often becoming the ‘First Woman’ to do so.

  • Barbara Calvert QC
  • Dr Ivy Williams
  • Carrie Morrison, Maud Crofts, Mary Pickup and Mary Sykes
  • Dame Elizabeth Lane
  • Dame Rose Heilbron
  • Helena Normanton
  • Madge Easton Anderson
  • Margaret Kidd
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Stella Thomas
  • Sybil Campbell

Famous Women in Law today

Women who work in the legal profession today who have become renowned for their hard work, success and accomplishments and are champions of equality and diversity.

  • Amal Clooney
  • Ayesha Vardag
  • Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
  • Baroness Scotland of Asthal PC QC
  • Beverley Lewis
  • Carolyn Kirby OBE
  • Christina Blacklaws
  • Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs
  • Helena Kennedy QC
  • Jacqui Gilliatt
  • June Venters
  • Lady Hale
  • Lady Justice Macur
  • Lady Mary Arden
  • Lucy Reed
  • Lucy Scott-Moncrieff
  • Professor Jo Delahunty QC
  • Rehna Azim
  • Ritu Sethi
  • Sandi Toksvig
  • The Late HHJ Harris
  • The Rt Hon. Lady Justice Hallett
  • The Rt Hon. Lady Justice Simler
  • Vidisha Joshi

Hometown Heroines

Women in law who are known in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire for representing local people and working in the local area.

  • Alison Grief QC
  • Hannah Markham QC
  • HHJ Gargan
  • HHJ Hildyard QC
  • HHJ Mellanby
  • Judith Gower
  • Olive McCarthy
  • Penny Carey
  • Rosemary Savage
  • The late Rhea Martin
  • Ramanjit Kang
  • Victoria Teggin
  • Amy Stout

The women of Crane & Staples

At Crane & Staples, we are proud to promote a workplace culture of inclusivity. Four of our seven partners are women and nineteen of our lawyers are women. We support and respect each other and are proud of each other’s achievements. This is why our staff members suggested that their female colleagues should be included on the tree.

  • Attia Hussain
  • Bonnie Twiggs
  • Burcu Belli
  • Danielle Peters
  • Eileen Ismay
  • Elizabeth Russell
  • Georgina Donnellan
  • Heather Charles-Wall
  • Janet Martland
  • Katie Smits, Nadia Miah, Sara Dobson and Annabel Andreou
  • Lisa Murphy
  • Maggie Kerr
  • Samantha Webb
  • Sharon Montgomery
  • Sian Churchill
  • Vasoula Televantos

Why are there brooches on the tree?

As well as the baubles, we have added other decorations to the tree and these include brooches. These brooches are inspired by those worn by Lady Hale, the most senior woman in British legal history and the current President of the Supreme Court, nicknamed ‘The Baroness of Brooches’. You may recall Lady Hale famously wore a spider brooch as she declared the prorogation of Parliament unlawful earlier this year. This started a trend for women in law wearing brooches in solidarity with Lady Hale. In a recent essay, Professor Jo Delahunty QC, who features on our tree, wrote

‘It has not been until this year, and recently, that the significance of what we women choose to wear has been embraced publicly by the most senior members of our judiciary: consider Lady Hale’s spider brooch (which now has emojis to its credit). Lady Arden is reported to have said in Cambridge recently that the brooches worn by the Supreme Court Justices are ‘a symbol we don’t have to conform’. I welcomed that comment. Dare to be different.’

St Francis Church Christmas Tree Festival

We hope that you appreciate our Women in Law tree and the intention behind it. The St Francis tree competition is an annual event at St Francis Church in Welwyn Garden City. This year, it takes place on 7th and 8th December. It is a great seasonal event where there are always some amazing entries put forward by local schools, families, businesses and community groups. Please feel free to visit the church to see all the wonderful displays and take a more detailed look at our 100 Years of Women in Law tree.

First 100 Years Project

For more information and a detailed timeline, as well as ways you can get involved in celebrating the centenary of women in law, please visit the First100 Years website. The First 100 Years is a ground-breaking history project, created by Spark21, a charity founded to celebrate, inform and inspire future generations of women in the profession. The aim of the project is to ‘celebrate the past to shape the future for women in law’. We have followed this project closely all year and seen some of the wonderful work they have done to promote their cause on a national scale. We would like to thank them for inspiring us to come up with the theme for our Christmas tree this year.


Do you think we’ve missed anyone?

There are so many successful women in law whose stories deserve to be shared. We would love to hear your comments and suggestions!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Crane & Staples!

Here’s to the next 100 years!



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