This project will investigate the lack of diversity in the upper echelons of the legal professions in England and Wales and the relative invisibility of women lawyers in positions of power. We aim to understand the reasons why women continue to face discrimination in the legal arena in the twenty first century and to raise the profile of inspiring women lawyers whose work is little known beyond their professional field. This project is being carried out in partnership with National Life Stories and life story interviews conducted with inspiring women lawyers will form part of the Sound Archive at the British Library.
We are particularly interested in finding out about the life experiences of a diversity of women lawyers, particularly from working-class backgrounds; those who came to England and Wales as migrants or refugees; women of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) heritage; from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups (LGBTQ+); women with disabilities, and those working in less well-known areas of law.
The research will be conducted in four stages, the first two of which are being supported by John Fell funds: a survey of lawyers; the development of a database; in-depth life story interviews (lasting up to twelve hours) with up to 50 women; and the creation of a project website. The interviews and website will serve to give inspiring women the recognition they deserve in the public sphere and inspire future generations of women lawyers.
Image by Victoria Balva