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Women Leaders’ series: Legally Diverse? A conversation between Lady Justice Hallett and Richard Heaton

One of the country’s most senior women judges, Lady Justice Hallett, spoke to newly appointed Ministry of Justice permanent secretary, Richard Heaton

The progress of women to the top of the legal profession has been painfully slow. Last month, Lord Sumption hit the headlines by suggesting it could take 50 years to achieve gender quality in the judiciary. Then there was the notorious twitter spat about sexism at the bar which escalated into a national debate.

But an unrepresentative judiciary isn’t just about the legal profession - it matters to everyone who is affected by their decisions.

In our latest women leaders’ event, one of the country’s most senior women judges, Lady Justice Hallett, spoke to newly appointed Ministry of Justice permanent secretary, Richard Heaton, about her progress to the top and what might be done to break through this toughest of glass ceilings.

Rt Hon Dame Heather Carol Hallett DBE was called to the Bar in 1972. In 1989 she became a QC. She was the first woman to chair the Bar Council in 1998. Her practice was general common law with an emphasis on crime. She became a full-time judge of the Queens Bench Division in 1999 and was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2005. She served on the Judicial Appointments Commission as an inaugural Commissioner and then as Vice Chairman for approximately 5 years. In 2011 she was appointed Vice-President of the Queen’s Bench Division. In 2013 she was appointed Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. Lady Justice Hallett acted as Coroner at the inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of the July 7th London bombings.

Richard Heaton CB is the newly appointed Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.  Before that he was Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office (from August 2012) and First Parliamentary Counsel (from February 2012). Richard’s previous role was as Director General for pensions and ageing society at Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Before that, he worked in legal teams across Government focussing particularly on criminal law, the constitution and human rights law. He joined the civil service as a legal adviser at the Home Office in 1991. He is the civil service champion for race equality.

 We would like to thank EY for supporting the Women Leaders series


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