The 72-year-old trailblazer judge and family law expert Lady Hale is expected to be confirmed in the role to become president of the Supreme Court in an announcement by Downing Street on Friday, according to times. Brenda Hale is currently the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, already making her the UK’s most senior judge.
The Bar Council said her appointment will “serve as an encouragement to all” for greater diversity in law. Lady Hale is set to be appointed to become president of the Supreme Court following the retirement of Lord Neuberger next month, the prime minister’s office has confirmed.
Born in Yorkshire in 1945, she went to a state school, Richmond high school for girls, and then to Girton College, Cambridge, where she read law and graduated top of her class.
Her legal career began in academia when she joined the University of Manchester law faculty as a junior lecturer. While teaching – and working in a pub – she studied for the bar exams, winning the top results for her year in the bar finals.
In accordance with several reports, in 1984, she became the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission, chairing a number of important reforms in family law.
Lady Hale is no off comer to firsts – in 2004, she joined the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, the only woman to have ever been appointed to this position. She is a time-honoured title holder of diversity in the judiciary – who joined the Supreme Court in 2009, has said on the matter:
“Excellence is important but so is diversity of expertise.”
She has criticised the judicial appointments system for self-selecting from a pool of predominantly white men from similar economic and academic backgrounds, blaming a culture of “unconscious sexism” in a 2013 interview with The Telegraph.
Lady Hale will be officially sworn in as president on October 2, along with three new justices – including a second female judge, Lady Justice Black.
Lady Hale said: “While I of course look forward to working alongside all my colleagues, it is a particular pleasure for me to be taking up the post at the same time as we welcome only the second ever woman to sit on the UK’s top appeal court.”