On Tuesday, 16 years of hard work rising through the legal ranks paid off for Anglia Ruskin University graduate Briony Clarke. The 31-year-old lawyer was sworn in as Deputy District Judge (Magistrates Court) at the Chelmsford Crown Court, reportedly becoming the youngest ever female judge in UK history.
According to Legal Cheek, Judge Charles Gratwicke helped Clarke take her judicial oath during the ceremony, saying: “It’s nice to have someone from our own community, embarking on the same career that we have all at some stage had to launch ourselves into.”
“This is a prestigious appointment that reflects her ability as a Criminal Advocate. We believe she is the youngest female applicant to have been successful. It is without doubt an extraordinary personal achievement and the partnership are absolutely delighted for her. ” a spokesperson at Clarke’s law practice, Taylor Haldane Barlex (THB) said.
Briony Clarke is absolute goals! Youngest ever judge!! Breaking barriers! #InternationalWomensDay
— – (@xxxssssssssssh) March 8, 2017
How apt that on #InternationalWomensDay 31 year old, Briony Clarke, criminal lawyer, is made a Deputy District Judge in Chelmsford. Go girl!
— Colette Stroud (@CSSolicitor) March 8, 2017
According to reports, Clarke rose through the legal ranks quite outstandingly. When she was just 15, she nabbed a role as an administrative assistant at THB, a Chelmsford law firm, when it was first founded in 2001.
Whilst completing her LLB degree and Legal Practice Course, the final vocational stage for becoming a solicitor in England and Wales, at Anglia Ruskin University, she balanced both school and part-time work at THB.
In 2009, Clarke qualified as a criminal solicitor. Three years later, was made associate at her law firm, THB. About a year on in 2014, she was made partner.
Now, as a Magistrate Court judge, Clarke is set for a long and illustrious career ahead. Predicting her “compulsory” retirement date of January 2056, Judge Gratwicke said:
“It’s a long time. It just goes to show how young you are and how long a career you have. Many congratulations. Enjoy it.”
— Lesley A Dobrée 😷 (@ProfLDobree) March 8, 2017
Clarke joins the ranks of other 30-somethings to move from the bar as a lawyer to the bench as a judge. Anna Midgley, a Cambridge University’s Pembroke College alum, became Britain’s youngest criminal judge when the 33-year-old criminal barrister was appointed last year.
Richard Wright QC, who took his LLB at Leeds University, holds the record for the youngest judge deputy district judge appointed at 29 years old, as well as the youngest Queen’s Counsel ever appointed – at the age of 36.