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Trailblazing North East Women Held up as Inspiration for Newcastle Law Students

25th February 2015

North east trailblazers Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, and Cris McCurley, Gateshead solicitor and campaigner against domestic violence, are among the women being celebrated as ‘Inspirational women of the law’ in a new exhibition opening next month at Newcastle University.

The exhibition features photographic portraits of 13 women recognised for their achievements in the fields of law and justice. Organised by Newcastle Law School, the exhibition is intended to inspire female students to see how the law can be used as a campaigning tool and force for social change.

Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth who, along with colleague Dr Nikki Godden, organised the exhibition said: ‘When I arrived at Newcastle Law School in 2010, I was struck by the fact that all the pictures of lawyers hanging on the walls were of male judges. I am sure Newcastle is no different from many other law schools in this respect.

“It’s a shocking fact that women comprise over 60% of law students and trainee solicitors in the UK, yet only one third of practising barristers are women and just 10% of QCs are women. Record numbers of women are choosing to enter the legal profession, but this male-dominated culture still persists.

“This exhibition is intended to redress the balance, to inspire our current and future female students to realise that they, too, can reach the top of their chosen profession and bring about social change. It also provides a positive response to the apparent rise of ‘lad culture’ across much of the Higher Education sector.”

Other inspirational women featured in the exhibition include: Lady Hale, the only woman to sit in the Supreme Court; Baroness Patricia Scotland QC, the first black woman to become a QC; justice campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Helena Normanton and Rose Heilbron, the first women QCs in England.

The exhibition will run from 6-14 March at The Long Gallery (adjacent to the Hatton Gallery), Newcastle University. Following this, it will move to Newcastle Law School, on a permanent basis. Entry to the exhibition is free and open to the public daily (except Sundays) between 10am and 5pm.

The opening of the exhibition is being heralded on 5 March with a half-day conference, featuring nine inspirational women, including Lady Hale, Vera Baird QC, Cris McCurley, Pragna Patel, and Shauneen Lambe, from Just for Kids Law.  For more information visit