Book Review

CSC x Vintage: Spider Woman by Lady Hale

Primarily known for her landmark judgment on the unlawful prorogation of parliament in the UK, Lady Hale is a woman who has made history many times in a male-dominated world of  law. This is a tale of breaking barriers; here is her story. 

More than a woman with an eccentric taste in brooches, Lady Hale has had an incredible life. Born in North Yorkshire and excelling at her girls’ school as a self-described ‘speccy swot’, she was nevertheless told that she was not clever enough to study history at university. She chose law instead - and as this was such an unconventional path for women to take that it was unknown whether or not she would do well, her teacher had no objections. There began Brenda Hale’s incredible legal career. 

Reading this book as a young woman born at the turn of the 21st century, it is appalling and astounding to see just how many doors were closed to women aspiring to legal careers (and women in general). From the imbalance in men and women admitted to Cambridge University, to the lack of diversity in barristers’ chambers, to sexism in the press and to the constant discussions surrounding women’s titles in law. 

Yet, Lady Hale’s autobiography is so much more than a book about her breaking through the glass ceiling. Her achievements as a woman in law are of course astounding - she was the second woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal and the first woman to be Lord of Appeal in Ordinary - but her achievements as a lawyer alone are impressive. Detailing her journey from a young girl to the head of the highest court in the UK, Lady Hale takes us through the tough decisions and moments of compassion, strength and intelligence that made up her unexpected but extremely successful career. 

Whether a lawyer or aspiring lawyer, a woman striving to reach her full potential or anyone interested in the rules and judgments that make up our everyday lives, I would urge you to read this book. I promise you’ll find your new role model!

Have you read Spider Woman? Are you a fan of Lady Hale? What should we review next? We are always eager to hear your thoughts - tag #CSCVintage to join the conversation, and find out more about our collaboration with Vintage here

You can find out more about Spider Woman here.