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Law Society renames ‘Old Bookshop’ in honour of first female solicitor

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Prominent room will bear Carrie Morrison’s name

Carrie Morrison (credit: First 100 Years Project)

The Law Society of England and Wales is to honour the first female solicitor by renaming one of its “most prominent” rooms after her.

Carrie Morrison was the first woman to be admitted to the solicitors’ roll in December 1922, following the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. Now almost a century on she is to have a room, currently known as the Old Bookshop, renamed in her honour at The Law Society’s historic HQ in Chancery Lane.

Morrison was admitted to the roll aged 34 and with a varied career behind her. She had graduated in 1910 with a first class honours in mediaeval and modern languages from the University of Cambridge and went on to teach languages at various schools. It was only after the 1919 Act came into force, dismantling barriers for women to practise law, that Morrison, along with Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes and Maud Crofts, were able to complete their Law Society exams, or articles as they were known then, and qualify as solicitors. Morrison was the first of the four women to be admitted since she was the first to finish her articles.

In the years immediately after qualifying she spent much of her time working as a ‘Poor Man’s Lawyer’ in the East End of London.

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Law Society president Simon Davis said in a statement today: “I am delighted that our governing council have given Carrie Morrison’s name to one of the most prominent rooms at 113 Chancery Lane as a way to celebrate her achievements.”

He continued:

“In 1922, following the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, Carrie Morrison, along with Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes and Maud Crofts, were finally able to qualify and while the journey to gender equality is still a significant challenge, particularly in leadership positions, the talent and persistence of these remarkable women paved the way for the many talented solicitors that have followed.”

The position has changed dramatically since 1922. In the year to 31 July 2019, 63.1% of new admissions were women.

In another legal ‘first’, Legal Cheek reported this month that the barrister profession received its first female outfitters with the launch of ‘Ivy and Normanton’. Founded by Karlia Lykourgou, a criminal barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, the online boutique aims to “encourage all women who attend court to do so with confidence, looking bloody great”.

Keeping with the barrister profession and in 2018, a London chambers purportedly made history after renaming itself after a woman. 218 Strand Chambers rebranded as Normanton Chambers in January 2019 — a century after its namesake, Helena Normanton, became the first woman to join an Inn of Court and practise at the bar of England and Wales.

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