Or, as I think she, and The Garter King of Arms, prefers it Omnia feminae aequissimae. That is the heraldic motto chosen by Brenda Hale, when she reached the top of the legal profession and was inducted as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary as Baroness Hale of Richmond [Yorks, near where she was born-and-raised]. On the Kermit theme: “It’s an inside joke between us. My husband was my frog prince. Now people give us frogs.”. She clearly has a sense of humour, as well as facility in Latin. The Blob has acknowledged her coded messaging before as part of The Arachnidati.
I've just read an emphatic denial that sporting a spider-brooch while putting a stop to Boris Johnson's proroguing gallop in September 2019 was entirely coincidental. That is from the Horse's Mouth, but the source is her 2021 autobiography . . . called Spider Woman: a life! I guess she comes from a class and background that you can put one over on whomever you're talking to in such a elliptical way that you can deny intending any sort of offense. She was at one time a barrister whose profession allows them to make outrageous suggestions about the integrity of opposing barristers and go off to lunch together as soon as the judge gets hungry.
Lady Hale is about ten years older than me and reached the Very Top of her profession by being appointed Chair of the UK Supreme Court in 2017. When she graduated 50 years earlier (literally top of the class) from Cambridge in 1966, The Law was almost exclusively the domain of comfortable white patriarchs and vacancies were filled by "a tap on the shoulder", it having been established that the appointee was the right sort of chap [right pedigree, right school, right club, right sports-and-pastimes, right wife]. This complacent, incestuous background led to groupthink and pretty shabby endemic treatment of poor people, black people, women, children, foreign-johnnies including the Irish.
As in so many parallel ♀AFAB♀ lives, Hale had to be twice as good to progress half as far as most of the young men who graduated below her in 1966. She had an interesting career, being an academic lecturer, writing definitive books on the law w.r.t. family, women and mental health, barrister, judge. She is convinced that the breadth of her experience secured her several promotions to, eventually, the Supreme Court. She had also managed to, if not exactly schmooze the patriarchy, assure the Effective Lawyers that she wouldn't frighten the horses with her feminism and care for the dispossessed.
Having someone with empathy and compassion, as well as lawlerly rigid attention to the text at the foundation of the Supreme Court ensured that this new independent institution started with a bright future. Slapping down the grifty pretensions of the actual Prime Minister, when the Court was still in diapers bodes well for the future.
- of course the discourse at Court would be recorded and live-streamed
- of course the location of the new Court building would give it parity of esteem with the House of Commons on the other side of Parliament Square
- of course the public are welcome inside the building
- of course gowns, wigs and maces have been left in the dustbin of history*
- of course the offices are designed for efficiency and to be a pleasant place to work
- of course there's a youtube channel
- of course the judgements are delivered at three levels of detail
- The official report / finding / verdict handed down in detail in lawyer-speak
- The 2-page-max Press Release setting out the findings in a way that can be absorbed [lifted and pasted] by journalist. A bit like the Abstract of a scientific paper
- A much shorter piece similar to the Lay Summary which science funders have recently required us to include in grant applications
I gotta say, though, that not all the legal cases included in Lady Hale's book are set out with absolute clarity for the audience of the book. I suspect some curse of knowledge here: Hale has lived and breathed these cases for so long and so intensely that it is impossible for her to imagine that we-the-reader weren't at her side along for the journey. It's like me learning about additive genetic variance in population genetic class as an undergraduate through agricultural examples like back-fat thickness in pigs. It was never explained whether thick or thin was the desirable quality!
I recommend this book. I think it is an inspiring tale of a smart girl who did well by hard work, collegiality, ambition, stubbornness and luck - and yes, like my mother, she made her own luck. But I don't expect y'all to, like, read all 250pp of it. So here are some links
- 2023 Underhill Lecture Baroness Brenda Hale, ex Pres of UK Supreme Court interviewed by
Berkeley Law Prof Amanda Tyler [60m] too long? mouse-over the bottom edge for chapter-heads
- Spider Woman reviewed in the Guardian
- Full 14m judgement on Prorogation
- Exec Summary 2m on Prorogation
- Baroness Hale of Richmond on Desert Island Disks
- So many First Woman to . . . s Centenary of Women in Law