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Another first for women in the legal profession in 2018

5th October 2018

Lady Arden was sworn in as a member of the UK’s Supreme Court on Monday, the start of the legal year for England and Wales. The UK’s Supreme Court, now counts 3 Lady Justices, amongst the 12 seats on that bench.

Wednesday was, as a consequence of that appointment, the first time in the history of the Supreme Court that a panel sat with a female majority, with all 3 Lady Justices forming part of a 5 strong bench. Whilst this is something that pleased me enormously on first hearing, I can’t help but remain somewhat surprised that this “first” is occurring in 2018. I think it is also worth noting that only 25% of that esteemed body is currently made up of women.

So, whilst the fact that a majority female bench will hear arguments before it, on an expedited family law matter, is significant. It should also serve to remind the profession that gender parity, or more specifically gender irrelevance, for a variety of complicated (and not so complicated) reasons, is still a goal to be achieved.

This is, after all, a profession where the majority of its intake is now female. The startling fact that these entrants’ progress through its ranks into senior roles, on the bench or otherwise, is still not in any way reflecting that intake, is not an issue easily or quickly solved. So, as I celebrate this milestone, I also resolve to keep pushing for a time when the least interesting thing about the presence of senior women in the legal profession, is their gender.

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