Patricia Scotland

 

Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal QC was born in Dominica in 1955, and moved with her family to England three years later. Despite a lecturer’s warning that succeeding in the legal profession may be impossible for a black woman, Baroness Scotland overcame these obstacles with ambition and determination: she was called to the bar in 1976, practising in family law, and in 1991 she made legal history when, at the age of 35, she became the first black and youngest woman Queen’s Counsel. In 1994, she was the first black woman appointed as Assistant Recorder, Recorder and then Deputy High Court Judge of the Family Division. Since 1997, she has been a Labour life peer, and in 1999-2001 she was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Subsequently, she served as Parliamentary Secretary, became the first woman Minister of State for Criminal Justice and Law Reform, and in 2007-2010 was the first and only woman appointed Attorney-General. Throughout her career, Baroness Scotland has been influential in reforms to family law and public law, including introducing legislation tackling international child abduction, forced marriage and domestic violence. In addition, she has founded the Eliminate Domestic Violence Global Coalition and the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence. In recognition of her work, she has received numerous awards and accolades, including Black Woman of the Year (Law) in 1992, Millennium Commissioner (1994), Peer of the Year in the House Magazine (2004), Peer of the Year in the Channel 4 Political Awards (2004), Parliamentarian of the Year in the Political Studies Association Awards (2004), and in 2008 she was named by The Guardian as the most powerful black Briton. She also has Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Westminster, Buckingham, Leicester, and East London.