• Three Top Lawyers Awarded Honorary Degrees by College of Law

    26 November 2009

    Three of the country’s most eminent lawyers were presented with Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees at The College of Law’s Degree Congregation.

    The degrees were awarded by Chairman of the College Governors, Charles Plant to Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, High Court Judge Dame Linda Dobbs and Janet Gaymer, former Senior Partner of Simmons and Simmons.

    At the ceremony, which took place on November 21 at the Institute of Education, LL.B degrees were also given to 426 College students, who have passed both its Graduate Diploma in Law and then either its Bar Vocational Course or Legal Practice Course. The College also conferred a degree on the first graduate from its LL.M programme, which currently has over 300 enrollments from students representing 40 jurisdictions across the world.

    Shami Chakrabarti receives her honorary degree from Charles Plant (left), Chairman of the Governors at The College of Law, and Nigel Savage (right), Chief Executive of the College.

    Shami Chakrabarti receives her honorary degree from Charles Plant (left), Chairman of the Governors at The College of Law, and Nigel Savage (right), Chief Executive of the College.

    The College was the first independent institution to be granted Degree Awarding Powers by the Privy Council in 2006.

    Shami Chakrabarti became director of Liberty in 2003 and recently played a leading role in the campaign against the extension of “detention-without-charge" from 28 to 42 days for terror suspects. She was also prominent in campaigns against the introduction of identity cards, the extension of stop and search powers and the use of evidence obtained by torture.

    The citation for her delivered during the ceremony said: “She has combined her lawyer’s knowledge and skills with her formidable communication abilities, to campaign consistently, courageously, and with great effect."

    Dame Linda Dobbs, DBE, was the first person from an ethnic minority background to be appointed as a judge of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. Born in Sierra Leone, her father was a lawyer and a member of the Sierra Leone High Court. Dame Linda became a QC in 1998 and in 2004 was appointed as a High Court judge, assigned to the Queen's Bench Division. She sits mainly in the Administrative Court and the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.

    Her citation said: “Throughout her career as a barrister and judge, Dame Linda has championed equal opportunities. She is the Senior Liaison Judge for Diversity, is involved in numerous “awareness-raising" initiatives and chairs the Magisterial Committee of the Judicial Studies Board."

    Janet Gaymer was the first woman ever to become Senior Partner of a “Top 20" law firm when she was made Senior Partner of Simmons and Simmons in 2001. During her five-year tenure, Simmons expanded its global reach to 20 offices in 14 countries and as a result significantly increased its turnover to almost £230m pa.

    She had built up a formidable reputation as one the country’s leading employment lawyers during her three decades with the firm and in 2004 was awarded a CBE for her services to Employment Law and her work on the Employment Tribunal Taskforce.

    Her citation said: “For this generation of women lawyers…Janet Gaymer’s achievement in making it to the top is, of course, hugely significant in itself. However, even more so, perhaps, is all that she achieved during her time as Simmons Senior Partner. Over those five years she pioneered good practice on flexible working, child care support and partner selection, which have now been widely adopted by many other major law firms."

    Copies of the three citations are available on request.

    Further information

    Contact Lucy Wray, Press Officer, The College of Law on 01483 216072 (lucy.wray@lawcol.co.uk).