Former Supreme Court president Baroness Hale given honorary title by University of Chichester

  • Baroness Hale DBE made Doctor of Law by University of Chichester
  • Campaigner for greater equality across judiciary has overseen biggest cases in British legal history – including 2019 prorogation of Parliament over Brexit
  • Former president of Supreme Court collected honorary doctorate alongside first cohort of law students graduating from University

 

Lady Hale – the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court – has been recognised for her lifetime achievements at the forefront of the British legal system.

Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond DBE, who has long campaigned for greater equality and diversity across the judiciary, was given an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Chichester.

The former judge has presided over some of the biggest cases in British legal history – making headlines in 2019 after the Supreme Court came into conflict with the government over its prorogation of Parliament. Her honorary award was presented at Chichester’s graduation, where she addressed nearly 1,000 students who were collecting degrees at the ceremony.

Baroness Hale, who herself attended university in 1963 shortly after the UK appointed its first female judge, said: “The great thing about a university education is that it gives us the tools of curiosity. Higher education raised my insights. I have many happy memories of the University of Chichester when I was last here in 2020, and it’s wonderful to be graduating with you all.

“There wasn’t a lot of women role models at the time I was graduating in the 1960s – if I can give some advice it’s to make sure you follow something you enjoy most in your degree because, if you don’t, you won’t be the best person you can be.”

After 26 years as a judge, 16 in the UK’s top courts, Baroness Hale has retired and is instead writing about her celebrated career. The title of her recent autobiography, Spider Woman, references the brooches she wore – and became widely known for – during her rulings.

“There was never a meaning in my brooches,” she added. “The big difference [about retiring] is not having to go to court to decide cases. I plan to do lots of public speaking and I am working on another book which helps general readers understand what the law can do for them.”

Lady Hale became the first woman appointed to the Law Commission in the 1980s, and was a driving force behind legal rulings to protect children with their own legal rights. She was also responsible for a pioneering ruling that widened the definition of domestic violence.

Senior lecturer Dr Amy Elkington, who leads the University’s Law degrees, said: “While Baroness Hale has now hung up her judicial robes, she continues to work to promote the ideals of justice and fairness, including serving as the Honorary President of the UK’s Association of Women Judges, which works tirelessly alongside the international association to support the work of women judges worldwide.

“We express our gratitude for the inspiration that Baroness Hale has provided for current and future generations of legal students and professionals and for her ongoing contribution to legal reform, the rule of law and equality in the legal system.”

Students from the University’s LLB (Hons) Law degree were among the graduates watching Lady Hale speak. Among them was aspiring lawyer Elisa Green who has already secured a job as a family paralegal at solicitors Footner and Ewing LLP, while she works towards applying for the Bar.

Elisa, speaking on the president’s celebrated words of her autobiography about the challenges of being a woman in law, said: “Lady Hale had an open and honest conversation with the reader about her struggles with imposter syndrome, and I feel this resonates with many people across the legal industry especially those at a junior level.

“I know I have also felt these imposter moments, and it was refreshing to hear that even the former president of the UK’s Supreme Court resonates with this.”

Baroness Hale’s historic achievements in law are outlined in her Spider Woman autobiography which is available at www.penguin.co.uk/books/442540/spider-woman-by-hale-lady.

For more about the University of Chichester’s LLB (Hons) Law degree, and how it prepares students for a career at the Bar and the Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination, go to www.chi.ac.uk/law.

 

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