Celebrating black women making history

As founding sponsor of the First 100 Years Project, Obelisk Support has had a unique opportunity over the past six years to support the recording and sharing of the stories of the many women “firsts” in the legal industry. To mark Black History Month 2021, we encourage you to spend some time watching and listening to the stories of three pioneering black women who have made history in the legal profession.

I.Stephanie Boyce

Born in the UK in 1972 into a family with Caribbean heritage, I.Stephanie Boyce studied law in the UK after time spent in America. Following a career as a solicitor and in-house lawyer, she was chosen to become president of the Law Society of England & Wales in 2021, the 177th President and the first person of colour to hold the position.

 

Opening Black History Month 2021, she said: “It is imperative we talk openly and honestly to ensure we are creating a culture change in the organisations we work in, not just pursuing our own success.”

 

Watch I.Stephanie Boyce share her story:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC QC

Born in Dominica in 1955, Patricia Scotland moved to the UK when she was two years old and grew up in Walthamstow. She was called to the bar in 1977, specialising in family law. In 1991, she became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) and she founded her own chambers. She was created Baroness Scotland of Asthal in 1997 and went on to serve in a number of roles for successive Labour administrations. In 2003, Scotland was made Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform at the Home Office. She was then appointed as Attorney General, the first woman to hold the post in almost 700 years, by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007. In 2016 she became the 6th Commonwealth Secretary-General and first woman holder of the post, which she retains to this day.

 

Watch Baroness Scotland, PC QC tell her story:

Dame Linda Dobbs

Born in 1951 in Sierra Leone, Linda Dobbs went to school and university in England, before being called to the Bar in 1981. She had a mixed criminal practice and took silk in 1998. She became a High Court judge in 2004, the first person of colour to do so. Her many, many professional achievements have seen her consistently champion issues including race relations and diversity across the Bar and judiciary. She now trains judges and lawyers internationally, helping the next generation to succeed.

 

Of her appointment to the High Court, she said: “Whilst this appointment might be seen as casting me into the role of standard bearer, I am simply a practitioner following a career path. I am confident, nevertheless, that I am the first of many to come.”

 

Watch Linda Dobbs, DBE tell her story:

Inspiring change

The Law Society’s 2020 report “Race for Inclusion” found that solicitors from ethnic minorities were more likely to feel extreme stress and have a lower level of well-being at work (24% of respondents v’s 18% of white respondents) and are more likely to experience discrimination and bullying at work. Whilst there are many in the profession who are catalysts for change, there is clearly still much more work to do and all of us have a part to play. The stories of Dame Linda Dobbs, Baroness Scotland and I. Stephanie Boyce light the way and inspire us all.

 

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