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England got its first woman solicitor 100 years ago this week

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Carrie Morrison admitted on 18 December 1922

Carrie Morrison (credit: First 100 Years Project)

It’s exactly 100 years this week since Carrie Morrison became the first woman to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Although Morrison successfully passed the Law Society exams alongside three other women (Maud Crofts, Mary Elizabeth Pickup and Mary Elaine Sykes), she was the first to complete her articles, gain admission to the roll and cement her name in the history books. Morrison qualified on 18 December 1922, aged 34.

Morrison 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 and the Military Permit Office of MI5.

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Following the introduction of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which permitted women to train as solicitors, Morrison was sponsored through her articles and spent much of her early post-qualification years working as a so-called ‘Poor Man’s Lawyer’, providing pro bono services to people in London’s East End.

In 1927, she married fellow solicitor Ambrose Appelbe, who founded a firm in London that is now part of BDB Pitmans. Morrison worked as a partner at the outfit, even after the couple’s divorce in 1937.

In recognition of her achievements, The Law Society of England and Wales renamed one of the rooms at its Chancery Lane HQ in her honour.

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History Buff

England being behind the times as usual… Madge Easton Anderson had been admitted to the roll 2 years previous as the first lady Solicitor in the UK before becoming the first dual qualified lady Solicitor in 1937.

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