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International Women's Day 2021.

International Women's Day 2021. Celebrating the great women lawyers and leaders for over 100 years.

The School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, has been at the forefront in pioneering great women lawyers and leaders for over one hundred years. Female alumni of this School have become the first women to practise at the Bar, to become President of Ireland, Chief Justice and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Notable Trail Blazers

The first women to be called to the Bar in Ireland in 1921, Frances Kyle and Averil Deverell, were graduates of Trinity College Dublin’s School of Law. These great women made headlines at the time, not just in Dublin , but in the London and New York Times, the suffragists’ journal The Vote and even the Times of India.

Averil Deverell

Averil Deverell was the first woman actually to practise at the Bar in Ireland. Born in 1890, from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, her father was the local registrar of titles, and she had a twin brother, Captain William Deverell, who was called to the Bar on the same day as she was. She had had a colourful and interesting career prior to commencing legal studies, having been in the ambulance corps during World War I. As Cooke recalls, 'she shortened her skirts by 12 inches and went off to join the ambulance corps in France'. She had learned to drive while in her teens, since her father was one of the first men in Wicklow to own and drive a motorcar. Feeling obliged to make some contribution to the war, she wrote with her father' s permission to the headquarters of the Queen Alexandra First Aid Nurse Yeomanry offering to serve as an ambulance driver, but they required her to take a driving test at the Royal Automobile Club in London. She passed the test, but was then asked to re-assemble a dismantled engine, which she was unable to do; but six months later the requirement was abolished, and she was driving an ambulance for the rest of the war.

On Averil Deverell's return from the war, she took up legal studies at Trinity College Dublin and subsequently the King's Inns, and after qualifying established a considerable Chancery practice, remaining actively in practice as a barrister until her retirement over forty years later. She developed a reputation while in practice of being a campaigner on behalf of her women colleagues; when the women's dressing room in the Law Library was changed in the 1930s, she organised the women to get their room back, and when the words 'Lady Barristers' were written on the door of the room, she insisted on their replacement with the words 'Women Barristers.' She lived in her parents' old house in Greystones until her death in 1979, and her portrait now hangs in the Law Library.

Frances E.Moran

First women law lecturer in Ireland and first female professor at Trinity College Dublin. Frances E. Moran graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from Trinity College’s School of Law in 1918. Called to the Bar in 1924, she went on to become Reid Professor of Criminal Law (1925-30) before taking up the Regius Professor of Laws chair from 1944 to 1963. In addition to her academic career, Prof. Moran continued to practice law, becoming the first woman in Ireland to take silk in 1941. When Prof. Moran was called to the Bar, she was completing her LL.D. in Trinity College Dublin and in her early thirties. She was previously a secondary school French teacher.

The Hon. Ms Justice Susan Denham.

Susan Denham, following her graduation from Trinity College Dublin, went on to commence legal practice having raised a family in 1977. Her speciality was family law. In 1993 she was appointed to the Circuit Court, to the High Court in 1996 and in 1991 became the second woman to have been appointed to the High Court in Ireland. Following her appointment to the Supreme Court in 2000, she became the first woman to have been appointed to all higher courts. In 2011 she became the first female Chief Justice of Ireland in 2011.

Other notable women alumni who went on to become “firsts” include Fidelma Macken, who became a Judge of the European Court of Justice in 1999. This was the first time any woman judge from any EU country was appointed to this court. Maureen Harding Clark was made a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in 2001 and then elected as Judge of the International Criminal Court in 2003.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mary Robinson is an Irish lawyer, politician, and diplomat who served President of Ireland (1990–97) and was the first woman to hold that post, before being appointed U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin’s School of Law. She served at Trinity College as Reid Professor and established the Irish Centre for European Law in Trinity College. Dublin. She was elected to the Seanad (TCD constituency) between 1969 – 1989. While still only in her 20’s, Mary Robinson became a Senior Counsel. As a politician and barrister she campaigned tirelessly for a range of women’s rights issues, including, the right of women to sit on juries, the removal of the marriage bar from the civil service, and the right to have access to contraception.

1990-1997 she became the first women to be elected President of Ireland. She also served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002 After stepping from the UNHCHR, Robinson founded the non-governmental organisation Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative (2002–10). Its central concerns included equitable international trade, access to health care, migration, women’s leadership, and corporate responsibility. She was also a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders, served as honorary president of Oxfam International and was a member of the Club of Madrid which promotes democracy. She also held various posts at the UN, and in 2010 she established the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice, which operated until 2019. Until 2019, she served as Chancellor, Trinity College Dublin.

Professor Yvonne Scannell - Internationally recognised environmental law expert.

Following her graduation from Trinity College Dublin and Cambridge University, Professor Scannell became a lecturer in Law at Trinity College Dublin (1973). She was a leading campaigner for women’s rights and promoted the campaign for the removal of the punitive taxes on married women. She provided background information and research for the Murphy case which declared that tax unconstitutional. Murphy was responsible for the removal of other financial discrimination.

She was the first academic to offer environmental law as a module on an undergraduate degree programme and initiated the first ever proposal for the recognition of a human right of access to nature to the United Nations. She has extensive practical experience in natural resources, planning and environmental matters. Until her retirement Prof Scannell specialised in Irish and European Environmental Law and Policy. She has served on the Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was a founder member and first chairperson of the Irish Association of Environmental Law. She is Vice-President of the European Nuclear Energy Authority and a former member of the European Council for Environmental Law. Prof Scannell is on the visiting faculties of Bocconi and Bayreuth Universities. Prof Scannell went on to become a Consultant with leading firm Arthur Cox.

Andrea Mulligan, Assistant Professor and Commissioner at the Law Reform Commission.

Dr Andrea Mulligan is an Assistant Professor at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin and a practising barrister. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin (LL.B and Ph.D), Harvard Law School (LL.M) and the Honorable Society of King’s Inns, she was called to the Bar in 2012. In her academic work, Andrea lectures in Medical Law and Ethics, and Law and Bioethics, and is Director of the Clinical Legal Education Programme. Andrea’s academic expertise is in the regulation of emerging reproductive technologies and reproductive rights. She is co-author of the book Medical Law in Ireland, and has published widely in international peer-reviewed journals, tackling subjects such as cross-border surrogacy under the European Convention on Human Rights, and tortious liability for mistakes in IVF. She will take up a visiting fellowship at Wadham College, Oxford in January 2022. Andrea is the current Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Law School.

In her practice at the Bar of Ireland, Andrea specialises in Medical Law and Data Protection. Andrea has acted in a number of leading cases in these fields, including: M v Minister for Justice (Right to life of the unborn pre-repeal of 8th Amendment), Morrissey v HSE (Standard of care in cervical cancer screening) and Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook and Schrems (Legality of data transfers to the US). Andrea is a Commissioner at the Law Reform Commission, Ireland's independent statutory body with responsibility for Law Reform. She also served as a member of the Pandemic Ethics Advisory Group – a sub-group of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) – from March - June 2020.

Senator Ivana Bacik – Reid Professor and Politician.

Senator Ivana Bacik, LLB, LLM (Lond), BL, FTCD, is the Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin (previously held by Mary Robinson and President Mary McAleese). She is a qualified Barrister, and a Senior Lecturer and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin (elected in 2005). She is a Senator for Dublin University (elected 2007, re-elected 2011 and again 2016). Her research interests include criminal law; criminology; feminist theory of law and equality law. She co-authored a major study on gender in the legal professions (Bacik, Costello and Drew, Gender InJustice, 2003), and her other publications include Legal Cases that Changed Ireland (co-edited with Mary Rogan, Clarus Press, 2016).

She was Chairperson of the Oireachtas Vótáil 100 Committee organising a programme of events in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland. She was on the Executive of the Together for Yes campaign in the successful referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment in May 2018. She is the Labour Party's spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration.

Professor Blanaid Clarke, McCann FitzGerald Chair in Corporate Law.

Professor Clarke is the first McCann FitzGerald Chair in Corporate Law at Trinity College Dublin. Her research interests include: company law; corporate governance; ethics; financial services law; securities law; and takeover law and she has published extensively in these areas. She is the Irish representative on the OECD Corporate Governance Committee and a member of the European Securities and Markets Authority's Takeover Bids Network. She is Deputy Chairman of the Irish Banking Culture Board and works with the Irish Takeover Panel. She is a Vice President of the Academic Board of the European Banking Institute and serves on the Society of Actuaries' Professional Affairs Committee.

She is a member of: the European Model Company Act Group; the University of Oslo's Sustainable Companies project; and the European Corporate Governance Institute. Previously, she was also a member of: the Irish Central Bank Commission (2010-2018); the European Securities and Markets Authority's Securities and Markets Stakeholder Group (2018-2020); the European Commission's Informal Expert Group on Company Law (2014-2018); and the Reflection Group on the Future of EU Company Law (2010-2011).

Women in Law - Trinity College Dublin