Hale, Brenda Marjorie (2 of 8) National Life Story Collection: Legal Lives

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Recording date

    2008-11-25, 2010-03-16, 2010-03-22, 2010-03-23

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Hale, Brenda Marjorie 1945- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Paula (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: BH gives parents’ dates of birth and wedding day. Recalls paternal grandmother coming to stay for last months of life when bedridden. Anecdote about headmaster enquiring after Grandmother after she had died. BH too embarrassed to say she had died. Reflects on nature of children and authority. [3.10] Describes home after father’s death and different type of life. Mother became headmistress of local primary school. [08:34]BH recounts ‘A’ level choices, why chose law and double applications/interviews at Oxford and Cambridge. Disposed towards Girton as more thorough in interview process. [14.52] Worked hard as student but enjoyed it. Director of Studies Mrs Jolowitz . Much excellent teaching at Trinity. Six female law undergraduates to one hundred male. Had been taught Latin at boys’ grammar school. BH reflects on experience and differences in style of teaching boys. [21:43] Recalls joining at university Yorkshire Society, Liberal Club, choirs, social activities, appeared in Brecht’s ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ play on lines of judgement of Solomon [24:20] Recounts day received news that had place at Girton , architecture of college and description of student room and how spent time.[32:34] While at school, BH won essay prize organized by European Schools’ Day. Prize was trip to Austria. BH learnt German during lunchtimes with French teacher. Between school and university BH spent four months in Austria followed by an Italian work camp organized by Methodists. [34.10] Discusses homesickness which she suffered in Austria in contrast to experience when reached Girton. [39:31] Description of different work experiences in long vacations in local Richmond solicitors’ firm, Hunton and Garget and Linklaters ‘ in London. Work at Linklaters via scheme in Cambridge, very few women in firm, BH was offered articles but didn’t take it up and ‘felt guilty for letting them down.’ [44:59] Discussion of what interested BH as undergraduate. Enjoyed courses except Public International Law which was surprise as BH had said in interview that it would be of particular interest. Found ‘domestic law so interesting’. Second year even more enjoyable. BH really liked Roman law because about things to do with real people. Recalls teaching by Geoffrey Wilson and Tony Weir who was ‘endlessly brilliant’ and ‘full of lively ideas and new ways of looking at things.’ [51:58] Describes in detail attitude to training at the Bar and unsuccessful scholarship application at Inns of Court in London. BH ‘severely’ put off by interview and experience of supremely confident male applicants. Anecdote about train journey indicating difference in confidence levels. BH reflects on attitudes of time and intellectual capacity criteria. [55.00] BH had gained firsts in first and second year exam results and thought of becoming academic. Applied to Keele, Bristol, Manchester in Lent term of final year and offered jobs by all. Accepted Manchester because Harry Street and Peter Bromley there, authors of the standard works on constitutional law and family law. Recalls different interview atmosphere from Inns of Court experience. BH gained first class degree [59:51], enjoyed studying and good at exams. Did not expect to get a first, BH describes self as ‘the sort of person that with a set of results starts reading from the bottom up not down from the top.’ Most of friends went into practice. BH not planning to teach, was partly doing law to get away from teaching. [1:04:10] Describes where lodged when at Manchester . Discussion of boyfriends at Cambridge and frustrations of supervisions with unprepared fellow students. [1:09:45] Describes first teaching job at Manchester and importance of teaching courses to social workers and child care officers. Different from undergraduates and challenging. Led to her writing her first two books as there were no textbooks dealing with mental health law and compulsory powers against people. Publishers were interested in the success of the Legal Action Group publications on Welfare Law so BH was commissioned to do two books one on Mental Health the other on Children’s Law. [1:14:25] Big factor in choosing Manchester was their invitation for her do take Bar exams and do pupillage while teaching and not expecting her do a PhD. After first year teaching, did Bar self tuition course in the long vacations and passed Bar exams in September 1967. Spent two years eating dinners to qualify for call, travelling to Grays Inn at weekends. Grays Inn chosen as practical, close to Euston and had many others from Manchester and provinces . BH called in 1969. Got a pupillage in a Manchester chambers and practiced for three years. Very important to BH as without that she could not have become a judge. BH top of Bar Exams (amused re success that came top self taught but with a 2:1 not first, none awarded that year)[1:23:56] BH pupillage in Manchester chambers with senior member of chambers who did not approve of women barristers despite his wife being a GP. BH recalls conversation with him on subject and reflects on what it meant. Pupil master regarded barrister as a fighting profession not a caring one. Good fighters required sense of when to fight and when to give in. His view women too obstinate or too yielding. BH disagreed that only men had this quality but led her to reflect on when she was inclined to give up or dig heels in. Important to develop that sense as a barrister. It was a helpful conversation.[1:28:20] Practicalities of being a pupil, no bag carrying in BH’s case nor lunch with pupil master as member of men only Manchester Club, but did paperwork, pleadings first drafts of civil, crime , serious fraud and some contested divorces. When began own cases BH more nervous in front of magistrates than lecturing. Nerves before court part of what keeps barristers on their toes. Took over Peter Bromley’s lecturing on family law in 1972 at time left the Bar. Twin career track up until that point. [1.38.03] Decision to leave bar influenced by first husband’s commitment to being a barrister. He couldn’t imagine doing anything else. BH had narrowly avoided being against him several times in cases. Wanted to start a family seemed sensible to have one steady academic salary and university more family friendly than Bar. BH had enjoyed doing both but increasingly harder to combine both teaching and practice so threw herself wholeheartedly into one she had chosen to do – teaching. Practical experience of law was particularly useful in family law. To know first hand what went on before and during a case. BH in practice at time Divorce Reform Act of 1971 came into force which radically changed ancillary relief and heralded the end of contested divorces.

  • Description

    Life story interview with the judge Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond (1945-)

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item