Baroness Butler-Sloss is one of ten award winners announced this evening at an awards ceremony hosted by Clifford Chance and addressed by Baroness Hale. The awards recognise those who are both excelling in their areas of practice and are working for the changes needed to ensure women working in the law are able to thrive.
Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was called to the Bar in 1955. In 1979 she was the fourth woman to be appointed a High Court judge, and in 1988 she became the first woman to be appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal.
In 1999 she became the President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice and the highest-ranking female judge in the UK. During her judicial career she chaired the Cleveland child abuse enquiry (which led to the Children Act 1989) and was responsible for the ruling that the child killers of James Bulger should receive lifelong anonymity. In 2006, she was made a life peer.
Other award winners this year are:
- Solicitor of the Year: Keeley Lengthorn, partner, Taylor Rose. Following the loss of her son George 22 and a half weeks into her pregnancy, Keeley began a campaign for a change in the law to ensure that everyone who experiences baby loss before 24 weeks is entitled to paid time off. Keeley is working with Angela Crawley MP on the Miscarriage Leave Bill.
- Barrister of the Year: Sultana Tafadar KC, No.5 Chambers. Sultana is a high-profile human rights, international law and criminal justice barrister who was appointed King’s Counsel in March this year. She is chair of the Bar Standards Board taskforce on religion & belief.
- In-House Lawyer of the Year: Angharad Price, barrister and public law professional support lawyer, the Government Legal Department (GLD). Angharad is diversity and inclusion champion for the GLD’s knowledge and innovation group. She drove an ambitious action plan that was crucial to GLD’s diversity and inclusion strategy, which aims to ensure diversity at more senior levels.
- Rising Star of the Year: Lucy Cole, trainee solicitor at Clifford Chance and COO of GROW Mentoring. GROW has 4000 mentees globally, 70% of whom are women. In her role as COO, Lucy is focused on achieving greater equality. Her International Women’s Day event this year supported more than 50 young diverse women in law. She uses her large platform to influence men to become active allies for their female colleagues.
- Champion of the Year: Kishma Bolaji, medical negligence solicitor, Shoosmiths shadow board member and founder and co-chair of Birmingham Black Lawyers (BBL). Kishma founded BBL in response to the challenges she faced as a black woman studying and working in the law. BBL provides representation, support and mentorship as well as running events that include an annual ball and awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of ethnic minority lawyers and aspiring lawyers. She is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Law.
- Legal Academic of the Year: Professor Charlotte O’Brien, professor of law and equality and diversity champion at York University. Professor O’Brien is a pioneering legal academic, whose work helps frontline advisers working on complex welfare cases involving EU citizens. By bringing together academic expertise and practical advice, her work supports women including those with caring responsibilities, lone parents and those fleeing domestic violence. She is also clinic director at the Baroness Hale Legal Clinic.
- Paralegal of the Year: Ella Watts. Personal injury paralegal at New Law Solicitors and founder of Ladies of Law. Ella founded the Ladies of Law platform, a community for empowering and supporting women in the legal world with the aim of networking and connecting women at all different stages of their legal studies or careers.
- Mentor of the Year: Sian Wilkins, civil senior practice manager at Doughty Street Chambers. Sian heads the chambers civil clerking team and oversees the strategic management and development of over ten civil areas and around 90 civil barristers. A strong advocate for change, Sian champions the importance of establishing equality and diversity in all aspects of legal business and is working to create a diverse clerking and support team within chambers.
- Law Student of the Year: La’Shaunna Williamson, law student at Cardiff University. La‘Shaunna was the first year representative for the Cardiff Law Society and set up an Instagram page, @cardifflawstudent, to create an inclusive space on social media to inspire those from all backgrounds to see a legal career is attainable. She also set up a YouTube channel and more recently a website posting articles and blogs on her own experiences as a black female in Cardiff studying law.
Dana Denis-Smith, CEO of Obelisk Support and founder of the Next 100 Years says: “This year’s winners are blazing a trail, making a difference in their own organisations and beyond and excelling in their own areas of practice.
“As the first woman to sit on the Court of Appeal, Baroness Butler-Sloss was one of the early pioneers who inspired future generations of women to go into a legal career. By celebrating her achievements, and those of our other award winners, we are giving well-deserved public recognition to role models, to those who are dedicating time and effort to driving change in our profession, to women who are encouraging and supporting the next generation of female lawyers and are leading the way in shaping a profession that is slowly making the changes needed to become more inclusive.”