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A career in law: an evening with Lady Justice Arden

A Career in Law-04 smaller

Lady Justice Arden DBE, Justice of the Supreme Court visited Brunel Law School on Wednesday 9th October to talk about her career.

Lady Arden was joined by a panel that included Brunel Law School student Keagan Van Wijk, and Brunel Alumni Khalia Newall, Assistant Vice President, Risk and Control, Barclays. The evening was hosted by Anthony Inglese CB, Honorary Professor of Law, Brunel University London.

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the UK. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population. In recent weeks, the Supreme Court has featured prominently in BREXIT coverage when it handled the case against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament. 

The appointment of Justices requires the Queen’s approval and Lady Justice Arden is only the third woman to have been appointed when she was sworn into the Supreme Court last October.

Lady Arden was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1971 and joined Lincoln's Inn in 1973. She practiced at Erskine Chambers from 1971 to 1993, mainly in company law and became a QC in 1986, and served as Attorney-General of the Duchy of Lancaster. 

Appointed to the High Court on 30 April 1993, she became the first female High Court judge to be assigned to the Chancery Division and as customary was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) at the same time. 

In her address to Brunel Law School students, Lady Arden talked about her experiences as a law student, as a pupil and about progressing through her impressive career from Barrister, through Silk, to becoming a judge and moving up to the Supreme Court. 

She offered support and encouragement to Brunel law students, including helpful practical tips. For example, she suggested that to succeed students should have a role model that will encourage them. She said, “realise that you can do it as well as anyone else.” 

Lady Arden also mentioned her time at Harvard and encouraged students to take advantage of international opportunities. 

Reflecting on her career in law, Lady Arden recommended it highly as a career path for students. She said, “Law is a career that grows with you.” 

In deciding which type of legal career to pursue, Lady Arden suggested focusing on the aspects of the job that are the most enjoyable. For example, people who like to work very precisely with the law and express it very clearly might enjoy Parliamentary Council. Those who enjoy performing in the courtroom would suit being a Barrister, and those who enjoy building client relationships would make good Solicitors and transactional lawyers.

In 1993, Lady Arden became the first female High Court Judge of the Chancery Division. She noted in her talk that these statistics have improved to 25% but that more could be done to assist female lawyers and judges. In particular, she recognised the need to support women in returning to work after having children.

Closing the evening, Lady Arden left the students with this last piece of advice; The Mirror Project. This involves putting up pictures of inspirational people and including a mirror as part of the display so that when students look at it, they see themselves one day achieving the same success.

Brunel Law School students and alumni enthused about the high profile visit on social media following the event.

"A special evening with Lady Arden, Justice of the Supreme Court at Brunel University London!"
Nicholas Johnston, Brunel Law Student and Pro Bono Officer of Brunel Law Society

"Such an inspirational evening listening to Lady Justice Arden with some of the members of Brunel's Law Society"
Fernanda de Faria, Brunel Law Student