Landmark Legal Anniversaries in 2019: Why we can celebrate - Lady Arden speaks at Liverpool Law School and Alumni Association Annual Public Lecture

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Lady Arden speaking at the Liverpool Law School and Alumni Association Annual Public Lecture

Liverpool-born Justice of the Supreme Court, The Rt Hon Lady Arden of Heswall attended the School of Law and Social Justice on Tuesday 10th December 2019 as guest speaker for the Liverpool Law School and Alumni Association Annual Public Lecture.

Speaking in the Hearnshaw Lecture theatre, Lady Arden took the opportunity to explore five key landmarks within the last hundred years of our legal history. This spanned the founding of the Supreme Court ten years ago, the establishing of the Geneva Convention, Council of Europe and modern Commonwealth – all seventy years old this year– and the Sex Disqualification Removal Act which celebrates a key centenary this year.

Lady Arden’s discussion of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act’s anniversary also provided an insightful and inspiring look at the broader issue of diversity and the barriers that we’ve so far faced and overcome in the legal profession. This included the increase in female lawyers across the sector, following the first female solicitor, Carrie Morrison in 1922, with 40% female barristers and approximately 23% of our senior judiciary.

However, this was tempered by Lady Arden’s explanation of the great deal of work still to do within the legal sector and throughout society to ensure equality. Discussing issues of equal pay, low representation within the partners of firms (approximately 33%) and issues of sexual harassment still rife, Lady Arden talked about the need to find ways to improve diversity.
Reflecting on this, Lady Arden spoke about the need for role models, as Rose Heilbron had been for her; mentoring and guidance for those entering and returning to the profession; broader cultural shifts, looking at issues such as the sharing of domestic burdens and reinvention of the work place; and the need for men to champion women.
Summing up the lecture, Lady Arden described this year, with so many landmarks, as a year we can truly celebrate and mark progress, but one where we must continue to look forward – where there has been significant change, but that we are not are not quite there yet.

This public lecture is one of a number of events celebrating and exploring landmark moments within the legal sector, particularly for women within the profession, and follows the recent First 100 Years of Women in Law exhibition – part of the First 100 Years project – hosted in the Eleanor Rathbone Building in November.

Lady Arden was herself a part of that exhibition, having dealt with barriers to her career when she decided to pursue the legal profession. She has since blazed a pathway of success through the legal sector regardless of those obstacles, becoming the first female High Court Judge assigned to the Chancery Division in 1993, and then a Judge on the Court of Appeal in 2000.
Lady Arden recently became a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2018 – its third female judge, and quickly made history two days later on October 3 2018 when the Court saw with a female majority for the first time.

Exhibitions and talks like these are an important part of the fabric of the University of Liverpool and School of Law and Social Justice, for students, alumni and the public.
For more information about future Annual Public Lectures, and our range of other talks and events, head to our Events pages, or sign up to our Newsletter to be kept in the loop.