Supreme Court appoints First Female President
As graduation ceremonies are held and the season rolls around for welcoming new trainees into the legal profession, the news of Baroness Hale of Richmond’s appointment as the first female President of the Supreme Court has been received with a mix of pleasure, disappointment and hope.
Pleasure at the appointment of Lady Hale – the pinnacle of an outstanding career in the law. She is the first appointee from academia, the first to have a specialism in family law and the first female appointee to the Law Commission. In a career full of accomplishments which inspire admiration, the disappointment comes from the fact that her gender is still a point of note and that it has taken until 2017 for this “first” to be accomplished.
Lady Hale herself, shortly after her appointment as the first female Law Lord, said that her gender matters, because “democracy matters”.
Her appointment comes at a time where the gender and ethnicity of the senior judiciary still does not, on either side of the border, reflect society or our profession. At the other end of the career ladder, the number of women graduating with law degrees and entering the profession as trainees, and becoming partners, is at an all-time high. So although progress is being made, it is incumbent on the profession as a whole to make sure that by the time the next female President of the Supreme Court takes her seat, her gender is the least interesting thing about her C.V.