Mrs Juliet J d'A Campbell
Girton has a longstanding tradition in the study of the law and is proud of its immensely distinguished alumni in this field. Girton lawyers have always been pioneers. To mention but a few, the College Visitor, Baroness Brenda Hale, was the first female justice of the Supreme Court, and the first female President of the Supreme Court; Lady Mary Arden of Heswall – now a justice of the Supreme Court – was the first female High Court Judge to be assigned to the Chancery Division; Dame Elizabeth Gloster was the first female judge appointed to the Commercial Court and was later made a Lady Justice of Appeal and Dame Rosalyn Higgins was the first woman to become the President of the International Court of Justice.
The college has a large and friendly community of lawyers, both at undergraduate and graduate level. Dr Stephanie Palmer is a University Senior Lecturer and supervises in Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law. Dr Stelios Tofaris is a University Lecturer and supervises in Civil Law, Tort Law and Contract Law. In 2018, he was awarded a Pilkington Prize by the University for excellence in teaching. Dr Shona Wilson Stark is a University Lecturer and supervises in Constitutional Law and Administrative Law. Mr Tom Hawker-Dawson is the Brenda Hale Fellow and is an Affiliated Lecturer, supervising in Criminal Law in addition to Criminology, Sentencing and the Penal System. Excellence in teaching is a priority for all Girton law fellows and we form strong bonds with our students which continue well beyond the end of their time in Girton.
We are fortunate to attract excellent law candidates and we provide not only a thriving academic environment but also the encouragement and support which we believe are vital to allow students to blossom and reach their full potential. We want them to remember Girton not only as a place where they received a first class legal education but also somewhere where they were happy and where they felt confident and valued. In recognition of academic excellence, the Mary Arden Prize in Law is awarded annually to the final year student who achieved the best overall results.
There are usually between 20 and 25 undergraduates reading Law at Girton. The law section of the College library includes a large collection of reports, journals and books. There is also a very active Law Society, run entirely by the students, which organises mooting competitions, career events and guest speaker seminars. It also organises social events including a summer garden party and the Annual Dinner, which is the highlight of the Society’s calendar. In addition, students in their second and third year operate a system of mentoring for first year lawyers which ensures that new students soon feel totally integrated in the Girton community.
We encourage our students to apply for vacation placements in solicitors’ firms and/or mini-pupillages in barristers’ chambers and the Directors of Studies give advice about application and careers. There is normally one major and successful annual alumni event when current students meet recent and old Girton law graduates.
The College welcomes postgraduate students and provides an intellectually stimulating and supportive environment. There are usually five or six LLM and two PhD students during any one year. Dr Palmer, Dr Tofaris, Dr Stark and Mr Hawker-Dawson lecture in courses on the LLM program and are able to give informed advice on academic or course related matters. We appreciate the importance of making postgraduate students feel an integral part of the Girton community. In addition to two College feasts, there are a number of formal halls, where postgraduate students from all disciplines and their guests and College fellows meet and dine together. The College Law Society also holds events during the year and postgraduate students are encouraged to participate.
Postgraduate students are admitted to the University by the Board of Graduate Studies. You must therefore apply centrally and not to the College, however you must be admitted to a College to be able to study at the University. To ensure that this is Girton you need to indicate this on your application form.
The majority of Girton law graduates move into practice either as solicitors, frequently in the top law firms in the City, or as barristers. As a tenant at Blackstone Chambers, Temple, London, Dr Palmer is well-placed to provide advice on legal careers. However, and given the flexibility that a law degree affords, there are many Girton law graduates who have pursued varied and highly successful careers.