About the speaker

Baroness (Brenda) Hale retired from her position on 18 December 2019, having been very much in the public eye during the momentous political events of 2019. She had been President of The Supreme Court since September 2017, and was previously Deputy President from June 2013.

Her career has been marked by a series of firsts. In October 2009, Baroness Hale became the first woman to be a Justice of The Supreme Court. She was also the UK's first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (from January 2004), following a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer and judge. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, in 1984, the statutory body that promotes legal reform. As a member of the Commission, her team was involved in legislation such as the Children Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Ten years on, in 1994, she became the first High Court Judge to come from a primarily academic and public-service background.

After graduating from Cambridge in 1966, she taught law at Manchester University from 1966 to 1984, and practised for a while as a barrister at the Manchester Bar, before following new career paths. She specialised in Family and Social Welfare law, was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and authored a pioneering case-book on The Family, Law and Society.

She retains her links with the academic world as Visitor of Girton College, Cambridge, and Visiting Professor of Kings College London. She previously served as Chancellor of the University of Bristol. A home maker as well as a judge, she thoroughly enjoyed helping the artists and architects create a new home for The Supreme Court.

Live broadcast

This Cumberland Conversation was streamed live from Cumberland Lodge (without a guest audience, as a precautionary measure in light of the global coronavirus pandemic), at 6pm on Monday 16 March 2020.

You can find out more about events in this series here.

Resource Type
Published Date
16 March, 2020