OWL - 'Women in the Judiciary'

Event date
17 May 2018
Event time
Oxford week
Herbert Smith Freehills London Office




No? we thought not. 

We want to encourage solicitors, legal executives and academics as well as barristers to think about becoming a judge. At this session, we shall hear from the panelists about how and why they became judges, what being a judge is like and – if you think you might be interested in becoming one yourself one day – how best to prepare yourself for a judicial role.


Oxford Women in Law

The format of the evening is as follows:

6pm – Registration

6.30pm – Introductions/ panel discussion

7.30pm – Q&A

8pm – Thank you from the Dean of Law, followed by a networking reception with drinks and canapes

9pm – Carriages


Speakers include:

  • Alexandra Marks CBE (Panel Chair) – Deputy High Court Judge

Alexandra Marks qualified as a solicitor in 1983,  and was a partner at Linklaters  (1990-2003). She now sits as a Recorder, and as a Deputy High Court Judge.

She is a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission and was a Judicial Appointments for Commissioner for six years until January 2018.

In 2008-09, she was Master of the Worshipful Company of Solicitors of the City of London, and President of the City of London Law Society.

Alexandra is also a Council member of JUSTICE, and Chair of Prisoners’ Education Trust .


Professor Jo Delahunty QC is one of the UK’s leading barristers specialising in cases concerned with families and children. She was appointed Gresham Professor of Law in the summer of 2016. She is a Recorder (Family: Public and private Family : S.E Circuit)

Professor Jo Delahunty QC is one of the UK’s leading barristers specialising in legal issues affecting families and children. Since being called to the Bar in 1986, Professor Delahunty has come to practise at the High Court level and above, rising to prominence for her work in cases concerning contentious medical evidence and the death of/catastrophic injuries to a child; ‘shaken baby’ allegations where genetic and benign cases can mimic physical abuse; inter-generational and inter-sibling sexual abuse; ritualized abuse; ISIS radicalisation risks and cases involving vulnerable adults and victims where learning disabilities and mental health difficulties prevail. She was appointed a QC in 2006, a Recorder in 2009 and made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2011. She is identified as a Top Rank Silk by Chambers and Partners and is ranked as a Top Tier Silk by the Legal 500.

Alongside her practice in the Family Division, between 2013-16, Professor Delahunty was instructed on behalf of 77 bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquest, tasked with exposing the failures of the emergency medical response by the South Yorkshire Ambulance service: on 26.4.16 the Jury found that their errors and omission caused or contributed to the loss of life in the disaster. For her work in this area, Professor Delahunty QC received the Group Recipient of LALY ‘Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award 2016’ and the Group Recipient Modern Law Award 2016 for ‘Outstanding Achievement’, The Modern Law Award f 2016 and Modern Claims Award of 2017. Having won the Jordans Family Silk Award in 2013 before her departure from the Family Bar for Hillsborough she returned and shortlisted for Family Silk 2017 by The Legal 500.

Alongside her private practice Professor Delahunty sits as a Recorder hearing public and private law chidren’s case and plays an active part in the committees of various legal associations, including the CCFLR (Centre for Child and Family Law Reform), the Women’s Forum (Middle and Inner Temple Inns of Court) alongside being Patron of the charity AMEND (Association of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Disorders). She is a member of 4Paper Buildings, Temple, London.


Dame Philippa Whipple DBE read law at Merton College, Oxford from 1984-7.  She then qualified as a solicitor and worked as an associate in the London offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.   In 1993 she requalified as a barrister and after pupillage became a tenant at 1 Crown Office Row.  As a barrister, she specialised in tax, medical and public law.

She took silk in 2010 and in the same year was appointed lead counsel to the Detainee Inquiry (chaired by Sir Peter Gibson).

She was appointed a Recorder (Crown Court) in 2005, and became a deputy High Court Judge (Administrative Court) in 2013.  She was appointed a High Court Judge in 2015 and sits in the Queen’s Bench division.

She was appointed a judicial member of the Judicial Appointments Commission (“JAC”) in December 2016.  She is a Bencher of Middle Temple and chairs the Inn’s Finance and Resources Committee.


  • HHJ Mary Stacey – Circuit Judge

Her Honoour Judge Mary Stacey read English at Keble (1979-82) and then did a law conversion course at what was then the College of Law, Lancaster Gate followed by Law Society Finals.

As a solicitor she did her articles at Clifford Chance and then moved to Simons, Muirhead & Burton before moving to Thompsons to specialise in employment discrimination and equal pay.

Mary was appointed as a fee-paid (part-time) employment judge in 1997, full-time in 2003, became a recorder in 2007 and a Circuit Judge in the Midland circuit in 2014 where she sits in crime, civil and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

She also had and has a number of quasi-judicial roles such as Deputy Chair of the Central Arbitration Committee, Independent Chair of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff, Chair of the University of Oxford Visitatorial Board, Assistant Certification Officer for trade unions. 


  • HHJ Usha Karu - Resident Judge/Recorder

Her Honour Judge Usha Karu was called to the Bar in 1984, she then practised at the criminal Bar on the South Eastern Circuit.  She was a member of the Criminal Bar Association Diversity Committee and served on the Bar Professional Standards Committee.

She was appointed Assistant Recorder in 1998 and Recorder in 2000. In 2005 she was the first female Asian from the Indian sub-continent to be appointed a Circuit Judge.  She is the Resident Judge at Inner London Crown Court, which is a 10 court centre, where she tries serious crime, including serious sex and murder. She also sits at the Old Bailey by secondment. 

Judge Karu is also a Diversity and Community Relations Judge, the coordinating judge for Judicial Mentors for Recorders for the London area as well as the New Recorders Training Judge at the Inner London Crown Court, and sits as a judicial member of the Mental Health Tribunal (Restricted Patients Panel).

She is the Circuit Judge Commissioner at the Judicial Appointments Commission and a Bencher of Middle Temple.


Oxford Women in Law (OWL) was founded in 2014 as a network for graduates (men and women) of the University of Oxford working in the law to discuss career issues, especially those facing women, to share experiences, and to enhance their relationship with each other and the Oxford Faculty of Law. 


Register to sign up for the event.


We are grateful to Herbert Smith Freehills for hosting this event.


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