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Women have been patient for 100 years, Lord Sumption

When will the profession call time on marginalising its female lawyers, asks John van der Luit-Drummond

22 September 2015

Though we are but four short years away from marking a century since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 paved the way for women to become lawyers, it is clear that equality between the sexes still has some way to go.

It was not until 1922 that the first women, Ivy Williams and Helena Normanton, were called to the Bar. It took the latter a further 27 years to become one of the first women to be appointed King's Counsel. The Bar had to wait until 1965 to see Elizabeth Lane become the first female High Court judge, and it was only in 1972 that Dame Rose Heilbron became the first woman to preside at the Old Bailey.

The solicitor profession did not fare much better. November 1922 saw Carrie Morrison, Maud Crofts, Mary Pickup, and Mary Sykes become the first female solicitors admitted by the Law Society. Moreover, it took until 19...

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