The Right Hon. the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE captivated students with a presentation about her path from a Richmond School pupil to the United Kingdom’s first female President of the Supreme Court. Over 200 students, including those studying A-level Business and History, were honoured to listen to Baroness Hale, who gave an interesting and animated account of her role as a sworn-in member of the House of Lords and the wide-ranging work of the Supreme Court.
Jonny Carr, who hopes to study law, after his A-levels at Richmond Sixth Form College, single-handedly organised the visit saying: “I knew how influential Baroness Hale is to younger people who are looking to go down a similar career pathway, and wanted to give my fellow students the opportunity to hear her speak. I sent her an email and was delighted that she accepted my invitation to return to her own school.”
Baroness Hale regaled the students with how she came to be doing such an amazing job. Growing up in Scorton, she attended Richmond High School for seven years and was subsequently the first girl from school to go to Cambridge and the first to read law. Following her graduation, she moved to Manchester to be a university teacher and qualified as a barrister. She went on to write a book about mental health law and her career developed, moving up the ranks from Assistant Recorder to Law Commissioner, to Family Commission Judge, becoming the first woman Law Lord and culminating in being appointed the first female president of the Supreme Court.
Baroness Hale explained that it was, and still is, very unusual to have a state education in the Supreme Court. She went on to say that for many years she was the only woman in the Supreme Court but gradually things are changing and the diversity picture is improving with a greater representation of ethnic minorities and women. She said that it really matters that our judges are more diverse because they are deciding the fate of everybody in the community and it must not be a narrow, elite group from society that decides people’s futures. She explained that fairness, justice and equality are three key values and it does not look professional if those administering the law are not reflecting these.
She encouraged the students to consider law as a career, saying the profession needs young people from all walks of life and that any legal career brings its own rewards and that she has found hers tremendously satisfying and good fun. She concluded her speech by pointing out that she can thoroughly recommend law as a great career as there are lots of things to be done with a legal qualification and the students should grasp every opportunity that comes their way.
Baroness Hale said, “It feels wonderful to be back at Richmond School where I spent seven very happy years and to see that the Girls High School building, now the Sixth Form College, hasn’t changed that much.” After her presentation, Baroness Hale invited questions from the floor and the students were thrilled to engage, posing many interesting questions across a range of legal matters from mental health through to illegal immigration.
Jenna Potter, Headteacher at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, commented: “We are honoured that Baroness Hale gave up time from her incredibly-busy schedule to speak to our students. It was an awe-inspiring presentation and one that I’m sure will leave a lasting impression on our students who witnessed, first hand, how by grasping opportunities they can really achieve great things.”