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100 years on from the first woman called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn

Edith Hesling was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn on 13 June 1923. She was the first woman to be declared an utter barrister by the Inn. Yet, this was not the only time she would make history in her lifetime. She later served as the first woman to preside over a County Court.

Since then there have been a series of women trailblazers, called by Gray’s Inn, who go on to break new ground in the legal profession. Frances Claudia Wright became the first Sierra Leonean woman to be called to the Bar in 1941. Rose Heilbron became the first female judge to sit in the Old Bailey. Lady Hale became the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission and the first woman to serve as President and Justice of the Supreme Court. Ena Collymore-Woodstock is the first female magistrate in Jamaica.

Women at Gray’s Inn today

Gray’s Inn is now the professional home to over 4,000 women students, pupils, barristers, and judges. They make up 40% of our membership.

This year is the time to celebrate their achievements, to reflect on the challenges they have faced and most of all recognise our Members for the striking individuality they bring to the Bar.

We were delighted to debut a very special film, looking at the history of women at Gray’s Inn, to Members in Manchester and London throughout June 2023. All Members can now view the film on our YouTube Channel.

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