The Supreme Court has previously been criticised for their lack of diversity and inclusion - the current President and his predecessor having been white, middle-aged men. In fact, in 2015 Baroness Hale said the Supreme Court should be ‘ashamed’ if they did not actively seek to improve diversity in their appointments. So, it is with excitement and enthusiasm that we welcome Baroness Hale’s prestigious appointment as the first female President of the UK Supreme Court.
Baroness Hale’s career began in academia before she qualified as a barrister. She has since worked within the Law Commission, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Law Lords and the Supreme Court. But during her meteoric career progression, one thing has remained constant – her support of women in the law. On her appointment to the Lords she created a coat of arms with a Latin motto meaning “women are equal to everything,” she co-authored Women and the Law and is always standing up for equality and diversity within the legal world and beyond.
Earlier this year Baroness Hale even had a cameo appearance in a performance of The Disappearance of Miss Bebb – a fundraising event put on by Kalisher Trust, a charity dedicated to ensuring social, ethnic and cultural diversity in the justice system. Baroness Hale gave up her spare time and energy to tell the tale of Gwyneth Bebb. Gwyneth studied jurisprudence at the University of Oxford and in 1911 gained first-class marks, but couldn't graduate or obtain her degree, because she was a woman.
She took The Law Society to court but lost her case, as the court ruled that under the Solicitors Act of 1843 women were not considered 'persons'. In short, they could not be solicitors because there had never been a female solicitor before. The publicity buzz created by Bebb v The Law Society case contributed to the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which finally allowed women to enter the legal profession. Gwyneth was set to become England’s first female barrister but fell pregnant and unfortunately died soon after childbirth.
At Giles Wilson, we pride ourselves on our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and owe it to people like Gwyneth Bebb and Baroness Hale who paved the way. In 2015 we won the award for Diversity & Inclusion at Halsbury Legal Awards and we are proud members of the Law Society’s Diversity & Inclusion charter.
Baroness Hale has been dubbed ‘the Beyoncé of the legal world’ and at Giles Wilson we are inclined to agree. Who run the world? Girls.