The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond and former President of the Supreme Court is one of the country’s most high profile and renowned judges of our time and well known for her important contribution to the law. She will deliver a talk to the University of East Anglia (UEA) Law School and Norfolk and Norwich Law Society on “Life as a Lady Law Lord” on Thursday 9 November.
Lady Hale’s career is marked with a series of trailblazing achievements, including becoming the first woman and youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission (1984), where she had significant input into the Children Act 1989 which sets out the law around child contact and children in care She was the first female Law Lord, sitting in the country’s highest court (2004), for which she was a created a life peer as Baroness Hale of Richmond; and the first woman appointed President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2017).
To those outside of the legal world, Lady Hale is perhaps best known for one of two things. First, delivering the Supreme Court’s ruling on the unlawfulness of the attempted proroguing of parliament by the Johnson government in 2019; and secondly her impressive collection of creature (often spider) brooches – for which a line of merchandise has even been created.
But her impact goes much wider than this. Legal decisions with which she has been involved have improved legal protections for vulnerable people, for example in holding that bereavement allowance should be available to unmarried couples where one has died; and in recognising the value of non-financial contributions to the family home in assessing ownership shares.
Lady Hale says of the legal decisions with which she has been involved that “the route to the right answer … was always through the correct legal principles – but interpreting and applying these with an understanding of the social or economic context of the case”. The perspective of women, of children and of other disadvantaged groups in society had too often been overlooked”.
Ellen Sweet-Escott, Associate Professor in Law at UEA, said:
“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming such a high-profile and trail blazing member of the judiciary to the UEA Law School and look forward to hearing first-hand about her long and illustrious career. With her emphasis on the importance of the rule of law, and as someone who believes strongly in the role of the law in supporting us in a crisis, she is a wonderful role model for our students who will form part of the legal profession of the future.
I would like to express my thanks to Lady Hale for agreeing to meet our students here in Norwich.”
Ginny Colman, President of the Norfolk & Norwich Law Society, said:
“This visit from Lady Hale to our Norfolk legal community is regarded as a highlight for 2023. It enables our Norfolk & Norwich Law Society members and sponsors to come together with the future legal talent of UEA law school students, to network, and hear from such an awe-inspiring legal mind, over her unique experience as a leading figure within our British judiciary. We are all honoured by this visit.”
As well as delivering a talk to staff and students at UEA Law School, Lady Hale will also be visiting UEA’s Law Clinic where free legal advice is provided to people in need. The Law Clinic was founded in 2012 and has its own purpose built, fully accessible premises within Earlham Hall. In that time, it has won multiple national awards for its partnerships with the local advice community and the work done by its students.
On any given day, the Clinic is the base for a team of solicitors, advisors, and students seeing people needing help with debt, immigration, family law, domestic abuse, housing issues, disability-related problems, welfare benefits advice, or employment law and discrimination law help. Around 200 students volunteer with the Clinic across the full range of different legal areas. Emails or calls to Norfolk Citizens Advice may also be answered by the Clinic as it is a Citizens Advice Bureau digital hub. Students also work with other charities including Shelter.
Polly Morgan, Director of UEA Law Clinic, said:
“I take great pride in seeing the positive impact that the Law Clinic makes every day to the people of Norfolk. The Clinic’s strong reputation stands as a real testament to the dedication and excellence shown by every person, both staff and students, who are involved with it. I know our students relish the chance to make a difference in real-world cases. We look forward to showcasing this vital work with Lady Hale, who has always been staunch in her belief in the importance of access to justice for all.”
Lady Hale’s visit is appropriately taking place during National Pro Bono week, an annual week to recognise the contribution lawyers make, free-of-charge, to many people and organisations in need of legal advice who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
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