Alumna Cherie Blair has been honoured with a History Maker Award by the University for her incredible work as a committed and active campaigner on equality and human rights issues. Cherie studied for her Bar Finals with ULaw in 1975. She was called to the Bar in 1976, initially working in broad practice including personal injury, criminal and family law. Cherie moved to 4-5 Grays Inn Square in 1991 and took silk in 1995. In 1999, she became a Recorder in the Crown and County Courts.
Cherie has appeared in the European Court of Justice in Commonwealth Countries and as an international arbitrator. She has argued cases in the House of Lords including the well-known Begum case on whether the decision to exclude a female pupil for wearing a full jihab infringed her religious rights.
Today, Cherie is the Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy LLP, a boutique international law firm providing counsel to governments, corporate and private clients.
It makes me feel immensely proud to be awarded as a ULaw History Maker, especially as I was the first person in my family to go to University and to qualify as a lawyer. I love the law as an academic discipline so I am proud of the precedent cases that I have been involved in whether as a winner or a loser. They opened up the scope of the law, particularly into public policy areas like education and international relations.
I have always believed that the law was a vehicle for making the changes I wanted to see in society. However, over my forty years in Law I have seen an increasing specialisation and an opening of international opportunities which have been reflected in the changes in my practice.
In my own life, my inspiration came from my mother and grandmother, both remarkable women who, for different reasons, finished their formal education at the age of 14. In the law, I was inspired by Rose Heilbron QC who in 1949 became one of the first two women QC’s.
The highlight of my career so far has been taking silk.We are so lucky to achieve a mid-career recognition that tells you that you are excelling at what you do.
There are a number of challenges and opportunities for the sector. The legal profession suffers from a lack of diversity at all levels from beginners to judges, particularly for people, like me, who come from lower income families. There is the threat to access to justice through the increase in court fees and the reduction in legal aid. Public misunderstanding of, or even indifference to, the Rule of Law. Also, if you have just graduated, it’s vital to know how to use technology so that it enhances rather than undermines the legal profession.
No matter what your chosen field, success in the law depends on application and attention to detail. You need to be passionate about what you do and believe in yourself because if you don’t, how will you convince others to believe in you?