News

London chambers set to make history by renaming itself after a woman

By on
32

Helena Normanton was the first woman to practise at the bar

Helena Normanton

The bar is set to get its first chambers named after a woman.

218 Strand Chambers, a London-based set which launched earlier this year, is to rebrand as Normanton Chambers in January 2019 — a century after its namesake, Helena Normanton KC (King’s Counsel), became the first woman to join an Inn of Court.

What else do we know about Normanton? She was the first woman to practise at the bar of England and Wales and the second to be called, following Ivy Williams in 1922. A staunch advocate for divorce reform, Normanton later became the first woman to obtain a divorce for her client. She was also the first woman to lead the prosecution in a murder trial, and, in 1949, one of the first two women to be made King’s Counsel.

The 2018 Chambers Most List

In a letter to The Telegraph, joint head of chambers Andrea Barnes said:

“She [Normanton] was a pioneer and a rule changer and went on to have a remarkable career opening doors that many thought were firmly closed… We hope that we can continue with her quest for a diverse, egalitarian and culturally rich bar.”

Commenting on the news, Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the First 100 Years project, a charitable initiative celebrating the achievement of women in law, told Legal Cheek:

“We’ve had some incredibly successful women at the bar and to think that a chambers only takes its name after a woman in 2018 is quite a shocking fact… There is no doubt that women have left their mark on the profession and are becoming more prominent in the coming years.”

This comes just days after we reported that the Supreme Court will receive its first ever female majority when two male and three female justices will hear a case next week. This is the first time this has happened in the UK’s highest court or its predecessor, the House of Lords.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

32 Comments

Anonymous

That picture is well spooky. Was she a ghost?

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Not until 1957, but this photo is more recent, obviously. How else would they be able to get it on here?

(9)(0)

Anonymous

#sepiafiltergoals

(1)(0)

Anonymous

You would look the same if your picture was taken back then! You thick head!

(0)(17)

Anonymous

Did a 5 year old teach you how to insult?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Shut it poopy head!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Wee wee pants!

(3)(1)

Anonymous

*to practise

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Madness. Get it right in the title, get it wrong in the text.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Guest written piece by KK?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

I doubt it – no mention of her being called the “Vera Lynn of the Legal world”

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Also not by Tommy, as the set in question is not referred to as “top” chambers.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣😆🤣❄️💩❄️

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Ghost written, you mean!

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Nope. Guest written as she no longer works for LC.

(2)(0)

Limpet

Good job she wasn’t called Bev Smith or suchlike.

Mind you, I’m sure some firm like DWF would manage to use it.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Hats off to Helena Normanton – to a point. I was expecting a silver spoon situation, like Nancy Astor MP and viscountess.

But her father died young, mum took in lodgers, scholarship and a lifelong pacifist, who demonstrated against nuclear weapons.

She applied to middle temple in 1918, got refused, and within hours of a new law applied again.

She was also involved with the Indian National congress, and so the whole thing has a whiff of the radical line leader, Annie Besant, but if I am right about that, we can expect a news blackout. To resurrect Annie Besant will be taboo. Annie lost control of the ball a few times but as one of life’s centre forwards, she made the most renowned establishment centre halves and goalkeepers shit themselves.

Judging by her published books from Wikipedia , Normanton was mainly a trial lawyer in court. I would be pleasantly surprised, therefore, if the establishment ever had to field their best defenders to contain her.

(7)(3)

Anonymous

u properly crazy

(5)(0)

Anonymous

So’s your mum

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Her mother… took… in… lodgers…? Good grief! Who has ever known such depths of poverty?

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Literally a rentier for a mother, and she’s supposed to be working class

(5)(0)

NewPupilSoon

So…there’s a chambers called Astor Chambers named after Nancy Astor who was the first women to take her seat in Parliament….they don’t make a song and dance out of it…!

(2)(3)

NewCorpseSoon

I see neither singing nor dancing in this article

(5)(2)

Random passer-by

We need to stop using the term chambers to refer to these shit holes. 20 Essex Street and Brick Court are chambers. I’ll even give you 6 Pump Court and Red Lion. But Astor chambers? Quit trolling.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

I think Trumpenkrieg is the Head of “Gas” if I’m not mistaken?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

A Bristol Rivers fan?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Well the Avon is ok, and I don’t mind the Severn but I wouldn’t call myself a fan.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t forget XXIV Chambers

(1)(0)

Charlotte

Sorry, folks, but I beat them to it with Proudman Chambers, which launched last year, and which also has the distinction of being the first female-only Chambers in the country.

We welcome applicants who have a strong dedication to impartially smashing the male patriarchy and we are unique in our clerking insofar as all sensitive briefs will come with a trigger warning so that Counsel can return them if they feel that any personal issues they have will not enable them to conduct the case properly.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Would they be sensitive bladder briefs?

(2)(0)

Barry G

OMG progress! So excited. Whatever next.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Still not enough. Equality is a process not a destination. It’s great to rename chambers but until we get rid of the old idea that England belongs to or was built by white men, or ever really did, we still have a long long way to go.

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories