updated on 11 September 2020
In a competition run by Aston University and the Next 100 Years project, three students from the university won prizes of £2,500 and £1,250.
Following 2019’s celebration of it being 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act received royal assent, the awards were named after pioneering female lawyers who had a significant impact on the early progress of women in the legal profession. Open to all the university’s law students, the competition saw first-year law student Afrin Nanavatti win the Gwyneth Bebb First 100 Years Award, and Chloe Kindon and Pelumi Coker share the Elizabeth Lane First 100 Years Award.
The Next 100 Years follows on from the First 100 Years project and continues to outline and celebrate the journey of women in the legal profession.
Judging the competition was Grace Ononiwu CBE, chief crown prosecutor for the West Midlands Region, Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the First 100 Years Project and Steve Allen, partner and head of law firm Mills & Reeve’s Birmingham office and president of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
Afrin – winner of the £2,500 – created a piece of artwork inspired by the Lady Justice symbol, in which she explored intersectionality and the obstacles that women lawyers from various backgrounds face.
Meanwhile, Aston University graduate Pelumi – who is currently applying for training contracts with a view to work in commercial law – created a presentation on the progress of women in the legal profession over the past 100 years and outlined ways to tackle these barriers over the next 100 years.
Having just completed her second year and due to start a work placement at Lunn Groves solicitors in Stourbridge, Chloe created a documentary which explored the history of women in law, feminism, equality and how an increasing number of women are reaching the top of the profession.
Dana Denis Smith, founder of the First 100 Years and successor project, the Next 100 Years said:
“The judges were hugely impressed by the winning entries and the hard work and imagination that went into their creation. Young people face exceptionally challenging times currently, so I am delighted to lend our support to these awards, encouraging law students to look at what has been achieved in the 100 years since women were first permitted to practise the law, what the future of women in law holds and how they fit into that.
“Supporting the upcoming women lawyers of the future, including those from BAME backgrounds who are still underrepresented in the legal profession today, is more important than ever and a vital part in achieving equality for women in law in the coming years.”