The Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE is a pioneer and a true feminist icon, oft described as the Beyoncé of the legal world. Her career has been trail blazing, iconic, and inspirational.
Lady Hale studied law at Girton College, Cambridge, and was called to the Bar in 1969. She spent close to 20 years in academia and practised as a barrister for three years. In 1984 she achieved the double accolade of being the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission where she oversaw critical reforms in family and mental health law. She was appointed QC and a Recorder in 1989 and became a full-time judge in the Family Division of the High Court in 1994.
In 1999, Lady Hale became the second woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal and in 2004 she was the first and only woman to become a Lord of Appeal in the Ordinary, joining the appellate committee for the House of Lords.
Lady Hale became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court when she was appointed Deputy President in 2013. She was then appointed its President in 2017, serving until her retirement in 2020. She also sat as a non-permanent judge from other common law jurisdictions of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong from 2018 through to 2021.
Lady Hale has long argued the need for the judiciary to become more diverse, calling for more balanced representation of gender, ethnicity, and privilege at the highest levels; she is a passionate champion for social mobility within the law. The “Brenda Agenda” is the belief that women are equal to men and should enjoy the same rights and freedoms that they do, but that women’s lives are necessarily sometimes different from men’s, and the experience of leading those lives is just as valid and important in shaping the law as is the experience of men’s lives.
In more recent times, Lady Hale is well known – as is her spider brooch – for delivering the judgment that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was unlawful, thus terminating the suspension of parliament in September 2019.
Since retiring from the court, Lady Hale has appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, delivered a number of lectures, inspired a children’s book (Equal to Everything: Judge Brenda & the Supreme Court), and penned her own memoir – accurately described as “essential, entertaining, and inspirational reading for lovers of freedom, equality, and justice.”
Watch The Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE deliver her Mayflower 400 Lecture.