Cambridge college names first female head in its 700-year history, and she’s an international and company law lecturer

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By Katie King on

She did her training contract at Clifford Chance

Dr Pippa Rogerson – image via Twitter (@CaiusCollege)

A top University of Cambridge college has announced its first ever female head, and she’s a law lecturer who used to work at Clifford Chance.

Dr Pippa Rogerson will be the 43rd person and the first woman to hold the acclaimed ‘master’ title in Gonville and Caius College’s 669-year history. The college’s famous alumni include Stephen Hawking and Jimmy Carr — and of course law student turned Maitland Chambers pupil Ted Loveday, who led Cambridge to victory in 2015’s University Challenge final.

Ted Loveday pictured with Legal Cheek’s Katie King

Gonville and Caius students will recognise their new head from private international law and company law lectures, and she is the college’s director of studies for law too. She believes she has about 500 past law students around the world — including many working in London.

Before working at Cambridge, Rogerson completed a training contract at Coward Chance, a forerunner to magic circle giant Clifford Chance, in the 1980s. Reflecting on this time in her life, she told us:

I’d hope the City is now a very different world to then, just running up to ‘Big Bang’. Coward Chance had an excellent record on appointing women partners for the time and was a meritocratic firm. Nevertheless, the City was a hard place to be a woman. The experience instilled in me a certain tenacity and I learned to work very long hours.

Aside from her outstanding academic achievements, she has raised five daughters as a single mother and widow.

Rogerson will take up her new post in 2018 — when chemist Sir Alan Fersht retires — and will then be one of 11 females heading up Cambridge colleges. There are 20 colleges run by men, so the new appointment means women will make up a third of masters. At Oxford, there are 11 female masters out of 38 colleges.

Legal Cheek has been told the law department is “very pleased” about Rogerson’s appointment, and so are the students. Final year lawyer Hephzibah Adeosun was among many students to praise Rogerson. She said:

She’s a legend. Very pleased for her and I know she’ll do an excellent job.

Rogerson is not the first Clifford Chance alumnus to have a glittering career at Cambridge. Both Professor Richard Fentiman — head of the faculty of law — and company and securities law expert Professor Eilis Ferran practised at the firm.

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