Celebrating 100 years of Women at the Bar

5RB proudly supports our female members

The Bar is marking the centenary this Autumn of the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which allowed women for the first time to become barristers. On the following day, 24 December 1919, Helena Normanton became the first woman admitted to an Inn of Court (Middle Temple), having the previous year been refused admission by its Parliament on the ground that women were under a disability by reason of their sex.

The Middle Temple is celebrating the centenary with an exhibition in Middle Temple Hall that profiles Helena Normantan as well as a number of its other female members over the past 100 years. Amongst those featured in 25 photographic portraits that are hanging in Middle Temple Hall is former 5RB Joint Head of Chambers, Adrienne Page QC, who was the 98th woman to be appointed to Silk. The exhibition, which will be formally opened by Baroness Hale on 3 October 2019, is open to the public from 2 September 2019 until 31 January 2020 between the hours of 10 – 11.30 a.m. and 3.30 to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Read the Middle Temple Press Release.

In her final year at university, in 1973, before commencing her Bar Finals studies in London, Adrienne had an article published in ‘FUSS’ (Forum for University Staff and Students, University of Kent at Canterbury Vol 5 No 5), which was titled Reflections on Barging into a Man’s World. She noted that “about 6% of barristers are women. The Hon. Mrs Justice Lane is still the only woman among 70 High Court judges; there are no women at either the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords. Among over 200 circuit judges, there are only three women; there is only one practising QC, among over 250 men.”  The then current edition of Glanville Williams, “Learning the Law”, contained the following advice: “Practice at the Bar is a demanding task for a man; it is even more difficult for a woman…….an advocate’s task is essentially combative, whereas women are not generally prepared to give battle unless they are annoyed. A woman’s voice, also, does not carry as well as a man’s.”

5RB proudly celebrates the achievements of all of its female members, who (including Adrienne) currently number 11 resident members and one associate member, Yuli Takatsuki:

Christina Michalos QC

Jane Phillips

Alexandra Marzec

Victoria Simon-Shore

Victoria Jolliffe

Kate Wilson

Felicity McMahon

Chloe Strong

Clara Hamer

Lily Walker-Parr (from 1 Oct 2019)