Celebrating 100 years of women in law


To position the First 100 Years project as central to the 2019 women in law centenary celebrations, promoting the legacy of the first legal pioneers, shining a light on the barriers women in law currently face, and setting out a vision for change.


What we did:

The First 100 Years project was created by the charity, Spark21, to chart the journey of women in law in since the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time. The five-year project culminated with celebrations marking the centenary in 2019.

In 2014 the charity started to build up a digital library of short biographical films documenting the journey of women in the legal profession over the last 100 years in preparation for the centenary year.  In 2019 the project wanted to move beyond showcasing legal ‘stars’ and begin affecting real change in the legal profession, helping to shape an environment that enables female lawyers of the future to progress.

We undertook a number of initiatives, including a survey aimed at gaining an in-depth insight into the challenges women in law face today. There was a phenomenal response with over 700 women taking part. The result was a hard-hitting story that exposed the inequality still present in the profession.  By bringing in respondents willing to go on the record with their stories, alongside friend of the project, Cherie Booth QC, we were able to secure a Woman’s Hour slot on BBC Radio 4 with a whole programme devoted to a discussion of women in law with the First 100 Years project front and centre of the debate. Further survey coverage followed in The Independent, Law Society Gazette, Solicitors Journal and other legal titles.

In addition, we promoted a range of key events and First 100 Years ‘products’ throughout the year.  This included an International Women’s Day photography event, a book, films featuring interviews with pioneering women lawyers, a podcast series and the commissioning and unveiling of an artwork at the Supreme Court – the first to feature a woman – which was covered by BBC News, amongst others.

Overall a total of 69 pieces of coverage were achieved across legal, national, regional and broadcast media, making The First 100 Years the preeminent voice in centenary celebrations and reaching beyond the legal profession to the wider public.

2019 saw the charity increase both donations and sponsorships significantly.

After the success of the campaign, Black Letter Communications were asked to continue working with the team in 2020 as they launched the Next 100 Years, a campaign dedicated to achieving equality for women in law.

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