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Judith Bourne has trailblazed the recording of women’s entry to the legal profession; a legal history that had, until 2016, been forgotten by history. Graduating from the University of Westminster with an LL.B (Hons) in Law, Bourne later gained her PhD from King’s College, London. Her Ph.D. focused on the legal life of Helena Normanton, the first woman to join an institution of the legal profession after the enactment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919.
Bourne worked at London Metropolitan University from 1999-2012, and joined St. Mary’s Law School in 2013. In March 2019 Bourne became Programme Director for Law and then in December 2020 she took on the role of Head of Department for Law, Criminology and Politics.
In 2015 Bourne co-founded the Centre for Law and Culture which has since hosted annual conferences. The Centre’s most recent project has been a conference on Race, with a publication shortly to be published with the University of Westminster Press (The Long Walk to Equality: Perspectives on Racial Inequality, Injustice and Law, edited by Bourne and Avis Whyte). In 2020 the Centre hosted a series of talks on Harmful Traditional Practices.
In 2015 Bourne ran an ‘inside/outside’ project at HMP Coldingley, and has plans to develop this in 2022.
Bourne is the founder and organiser of “First Women Lawyers in England, Wales and the Empire Symposia” and has held annual conferences since 2015. A special edition of the Women's History Review arose out of this conference series: Volume 29, 2020 - Issue 4: Special issue: Challenging Women, see: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09612025.2019.1702779
Bourne’s academic interest is in Law, Gender, Race, and Justice.
Bourne has taught Land Law and Equity and Trusts Law since 1995. Currently, she teaches the Law Research Project and Extended Essay research modules. She has also taught her research on Gender and Law in a module of a similar name.
As a person from a non-traditional background and having been the first of her family to attend university, Bourne is passionate about higher education, equalising the attainment gap, and ensuring that her department is a fair and equitable study environment for all students.
Before working at St Mary's, I had worked at a central London university, and when I visited St Mary's for the interview I fell in love with the green, leafy and spacious campus.
It is a great privilege to support students to overcome any issues and then watch them succeed. I always shed a tear (or two) of pride for my students at graduation...
Currently, I am editing a book on race and am embarking on a new project with the Inns of Court: ‘Race and the Legal Profession’. Part of this project involves recovering 'lost' BAME barristers' lives from the archives.
Read the full interview
- Bourne, J. ‘A promise of equality yet to be met’ 7 December 2021 (see online).
- Bourne, J. Calling Time at the Bar in Lobban, M and Williams, I. Networks and Connections in Legal History, August 2020, CUP, pp. 60-87 (see online).
- Bourne, J. (2020) Helena Normanton: legal crusader or myth Maker? ‘[S]urely the one thing history teaches us is that we cannot generalise, or even worse, categorise individual humans into saints and sinners, or heroes and villains’, Women's History Review, 29:4, 671-695, DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2019.1702788 (see online).
- Judith Bourne & Caroline Morris (2020) Introducing Challenging Women, Women's History Review, 29:4, 549-554, DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2019.1702779 (see online).
- Bourne, J. A woman ahead of her time, Law Society Gazette, 7 September 2020 (see online).
- Bourne, J. How Beatrice beat the protectionists, 3 August 2020 (see online).
- Bourne, J. Feminist, reformer, pioneer and figurehead, Law Society Gazette, 10 February 2020 (see online).
- Bourne, J. The Vanishing Act of Miss Bertha Cave GRAYA – NO 132 January 2020
- Two entries in Rackley, E. & Auchmuty, R. (eds) Women’s Legal landmarks Hart Publishing 2019 Elizabeth Land and Helena Normanton) (see online): Bourne, J. Chapter 19 First Woman to be Admitted to an Inn of Court, Helena Normanton, 1919, and Bourne, J and Burton, F. Chapter 37 First Woman High Court Judge in England and Wales, Elizabeth Lane, 1965.
- Bourne, J. How Bertha Cave fought law’s male exclusivity, 25 November 2019 (see online).
- Bourne, J. Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 Templar Magazine
- Bourne, J. Gwyneth Bebb: the past explaining the present, 29 April 2019 (see online).
- Bourne, J. Women who blazed a trail for the pioneers, Law Society Gazette, 25 March 2019 (see online).
- Bourne, J. Getting to the top, Law Society Gazette, 11 March 2019 (see online).
Bourne, J. and Derry, C. Gender and Law, Routledge 2018 (see online).
Assistant editor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Bourne’s specific entries:
- Bourne, J. (2018, November 08). Chatterjee [née Broughton], Gladys Mary, Lady Chatterjee (1883–1969), industrial welfare promoter and barrister. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Bourne, J. (2018, November 08). Davy, Beatrice Honour (1885–1966), barrister and later solicitor. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Bourne, J. (2018, November 08). Cave [married name Altof], Bertha (1881–1951), campaigner. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Introduction: (see online).
- Bourne, J. Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women Waterside Press 2016
- Bourne, J and Derry, C. Women and Law Old Bailey Press 2005
Co-organiser of the Inner Temple 2 December 2020 on ‘Race’ (soon to publish a book from the conference with University of Westminster Press)
Co-organiser of the Women’s History Network Conference on women and the professions at the Women’s Library, LSE (see online).
2015-2019 First Women Lawyer’s in Great Britain and the Empire Symposia:
- 2015 Symposium: 'First Women Lawyers: Establishing the known and unknown’.
- 2016 Symposium: ‘Pioneers: Those who tried and “failed” and the quasi-lawyers’.
- 2017 Symposium: ‘Individual struggles of the “successful”– Williams, Morrison, Normanton and the rest of the 1922 cohort’.
- 2018 Symposium: “The Road to 1919”. Held in the Jubilee Room of the Palace of Westminster, guest speaker Emily Thornberry MP.
- 2019 Celebrations: Symposium: Thursday 7 February 2019 held in the Queen’s Room at Middle Temple (workshop for the special edition of the WHR)
- June 2020 meeting cancelled because of Covid-19 (was to be held in the Middle Temple)
Centre for Law & Culture Conference: ‘Race: Why can’t the Law effect genuine equality?’ (University of Westminster Publication to be published from this conference)
Centre for Law & Culture Conference: ‘Anarchy’ (see online).
Centre for Law & Culture Conference: ‘Invisibility’ (see online).
Centre for Law & Culture Conference: ‘Law and Change’
Centre for Law and Culture Conference: ‘Visualising Law and Gender and Conference’ (see online). The Centre was opened in 2014: Lady Hale to speak at the launch (see online).
Jan-June 2019 First Women Lawyers Public Lecture Series:
Held in More House, South Kensington, funded by Oliver Fisher Solicitors.
January 25 (Friday) 2019 6pm:
- Dr Mari Takayanagi ‘The significance of the 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal)’ and
- Dr Caroline Morris ‘Dr Ivy Williams: First Woman to be called to the Bar of England and Wales’
February 22 (Friday) 2019 6pm:
- Elizabeth Cruickshank ‘Carrie Morrison: First woman admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales’, and
- Dr Judith Bourne ‘Helena Normanton: First woman to make use of the 1919 legislation’
March 29 (Friday) 2019 6pm:
- Dr Caroline Derry ‘Monica Geike Cobb: First woman to practise as a barrister in England and Wales’, and
- Katie Broomfield ‘Mary Sykes: One of the first cohort of women solicitors’
April 26 (Friday) 2019 6pm:
- Ros Wright QC ‘Sybil Campbell: One of the first cohort of women barristers and (arguably) the first woman judge(?), and
- Liz Goldthorpe J ‘Averill Deverell: The first woman lawyer(?)’
May 31 (Friday) 2019 6pm:
- Charlotte Coleman ‘Auvergne Doherty: First commonwealth (Western Australia) woman to be called to the Bar of England and Wales’, and
- Dr Frances Burton ‘Betty Archdale: Called to the Bar at Gary’s in 1938 Archdale in 1938 would, like Doherty, make her career in Australia’
June 21 (Friday) 2019 6pm: ‘100 Years on…’ Roundtable discussion with:
- Dr Laura Janes, the Howard League, and
- Caolilfhionn Gallagher QC, Doughty Street Chambers
- Forthcoming: ‘Early BAME Barristers’ Digital exhibition in conjunction with the Inner Temple
- 2020: Virtual exhibition celebrating the achievements of female barristers (see online)
- October – December 2019: Bertha Cave and the struggle of women to join the legal profession at the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn (see online).
- 2019 September Women’s History Network Conference (LSE), paper: ‘Helena Normanton and her role in the 1919 legislation’
- 2018 December Centre for Law and Culture Conference: ‘Under representation of BAME in Academia and senior position in academia’
- 2018 September Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference QMUL ‘The Law in troubled times: Scrunched or be scrunched – Bertha Cave’ (see online).
- 2018 June FWL Symposium: “The Road to 1919”, paper: ‘First Women Lawyers networks and Connections’
- 2017 July British legal History Conference paper on Bertha Cave (led to the CUP publication 2020)
- 2017 March Association of Law Teachers “Hard Times versus Great Expectations? Problems facing Property Law lecturers in teaching and assessment”
- 2017 September CLC Conference ‘Anarchy’, paper: ‘Helena Normanton, the “disruptor”’
- 2017 June First Women Lawyer Symposium: ‘The writing of Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women’
- 2016 June 2016 Women’s Legal Landmarks Conference (LSE), two papers:
22 June 2016 “Helena Normanton: First Woman to be admitted to an Inn of Court”
23 June 2016 “Elizabeth Lane: First High Court Judge”
- 2016 June Teaching and Learning Conference St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, “Student led prison teaching”
- 2016 June First Women Lawyer Symposium: ‘Pioneers: ‘The Vanishing Act of Miss Bertha Cave’
- 2015 November 2 Spark 21 Annual Conference of First 100 Years “Where did it all begin?” (Simmons and Simmons) (see online).
- 2015 Centre for Law and Culture Conference: ‘Helena Normanton and her challenge to the male exclusivity of the legal profession’
- 2015 September 9 First Women Lawyer (FWL) Symposium: 'First Women Lawyers: Establishing the known and unknown’, paper: ‘Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women’
- 2014 Centre for Law and Culture (CLC) Conference ‘Visualising Law and Gender and Conference’ paper: ‘Helena Normanton and her construction by the Press as “Portia”’
- 2011 September Women’s History Network 2011 conference (Helena Normanton)
- 2008 Society of Legal Scholars Conference LSE, paper: ‘Women in Practice – back to their roots’
- 2005 ERSC conference at ICBH – ‘Women’s current legal position’
- 2001 Society of Legal Scholars, Glasgow, paper: ‘Older women as mothers and the legal consequences’
- 2016 Association of Law Teachers (20-22 March) “The Normanton Project”
- 2016 (June) Teaching and Learning Conference St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, “Student led prison teaching”
Public Lectures and other Events:
- 15 June 2020 ‘Speed dating of good practice’ (department event to share good practice) – Judith spoke on her emails to students during lockdown
- 2 June 2020 Panellist on the roundtable discussing interdisciplinary research, St. Mary’s University Festival of Research
- 30 January 2020 Speaker at the Houses of Parliament archive event
- 16 January 2020 Guest speaker and co-organiser of the First Women Barristers event at the Middle Temple 16 January 2020 (see online).
- 5 November 2019 invited to start Middle Temple’s centenary celebrations by delivering a talk to the Middle Temple Historical Society on Helena Normanton (see online).
- 10 October 2019 guest speaker at the Law Gazette Women in Law reception (see online).
- 12 September 2019 invited to become an honorary member of Normanton Chambers, in recognition of the work I have done on first women lawyers and the promoting of equality within the legal profession.
- 10 October 2019 organised a school debate for Year 9s in the Shannon Room (this is to aid student recruitment.
- 7 September 2019 organised the 2019 Women’s History Network Conference reception to be held in the Middle Temple hall and arranged for Master Schuman to deliver the keynote
- 20 May 2019 guest speaker at the Lincoln’s Inn Women’s Forum on academia ‘Different Profession: Same Story? (see online).
- 18 March 2019 invited as International Women’s Day speaker at Queen’s University Belfast (see online).
- 28 February 2019 Guest speaker at the Inner Temple event with Helena Kennedy QCon ‘How Far Have Women Come?’ (see online).
- November 2018 Podcast for F100Y (see online).
- 19 February 2018 I spoke at Ashton House Prep School on Helena Normanton (outreach work)
- 2018 - present: Adviser to the Blue Plaque Committee for English heritage to work on the proposed blue plaque for Helena Normanton. I have been instrumental in driving this forward for 2019- 15 June 2017 Keynote speaker Aurora Conference (Mayfair, London)
- 17 May 2017 Public lecture at LSE by invitation of Women’s Library, ‘Helena Normanton: Legal Pioneer’
- 2017 Speaker at the 2017 Inspirational Women Lawyer Award PWC
- May 2017 invited to speak at Royal Holloway on Helena Normanton (see online).
- 2015 Centre for Law & Culture Conference: ‘Law and Change’ (see online).
- 2015 Devised and led student-led teaching “Normanton Project” at HMP Coldingley
- 2015 Lecture on ‘Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women’ Buckinghamshire New University
- 2014 (November) ‘Situating Shelia Kaye Smith: Women’s progression to the professions’, Public Lecture to the Shelia Kaye Smith Society, Hastings
- 2010 Lecture to Edge Hill University on thesis (see online)
- 2009 Appeared on Radio 4 (Woman’s Hour) and talked about Helena Normanton (see online)
- 2005 Women’s Library Lecture on Helena Normanton
- 2003 Lecture on Helena Normanton to the Women’s Library
- 2002 Contributed to the opening of the Women’s Library exhibition
- 2002 Appeared on Radio 4 (Woman’s Hour) and talked about Helena Normanton (see online)
- St. Mary's University, Twickenham, June 2016 "Student led prison teaching"
- 2016 (Invisibility), 2015 (Change), 2014 (Visualising Law and Gender) Co-organiser of the Centre for Law and Culture Annual Conference
- 2015 Devised and led student-led teaching "Normanton Project" at HMP Coldingley
- 2015 Lecture on 'Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women' Buckinghamshire New University
- 2014 (November) 'Situating Shelia Kaye Smith: Women's progression to the professions', Public Lecture to the Shelia Kaye Smith Society, Hastings
- 2005 Women's Library Lecture on Helena Normanton
- 2002 Contributed to the opening of the Women's Library exhibition