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Q&A with Lady Hale

1 March 2017

Lady Hale is deputy president of the Supreme Court

Lady Hale

What was your first job?

My first proper job was assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1966. But I had worked in solicitors' offices in North Yorkshire and in the City of London during my undergraduate vacations.

What's your career highlight?

It’s always difficult to decide whether it was the passing of the Children Act 1989, which was the culmination of years of work at the Law Commission, in partnership with the Department of Health, or some of the landmark decisions of the House of Lords/Supreme Court where I’ve written the leading judgment, such as ZH (Tanzania), Yemshaw v London Borough of Hounslow, Cheshire West and Chester Council v P.

Share some great advice you've been given.

'You’re not good enough to read history, so why not try law?'

What advice would you give to junior lawyers or aspiring solicitors who are considering a career in the judiciary?

Get as much and as varied experience as you can in law-related activities (practice, teaching, etc). Look out for part-time fee paid appointments which would suit you (don’t be shy about what you can do), and apply!

What's in your desk drawers?

Stationery equipment like pens, pencils, staples etc, a fan for when it’s too hot (not often) and fingerless gloves for when it’s too cold (more often).

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

How about the Supreme Court café?

How do you relax?

Lots of ways: theatre, music, family and friends, walking in Yorkshire, doing puzzles and reading the odd novel.

Sum up working in the Supreme Court in one word.


What is your favourite city?


What book is on your bedside table?

Contagion, a novel by an old friend, Thelma Fisher, about the foot and mouth outbreak in Cumbria,

What needs to happen to get more women into leadership roles?

The men to recognise they need the women and the women to recognise that they are needed.

If you hadn't pursued a career in the law, what would you have done?

I would probably have become some sort of teacher, like all my family. Hang on though – that’s what I did do!

What is your hidden talent?