Black Letter Law Directory | 2015 | Legal History

In this section you will find information about those of African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minority ancestry who have made legal history in the United Kingdom since the 1800s.

Ng Achoy

Ng Achoy was the first known person of Chinese origin to be called to the Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1877. Ng was from Hong...

Aviet Agabeg

Aviet Agabeg became the first known Asian member of the Inner Temple in 1864. From Calcutta, he attended St Johns College, Cambridge and was called to the Bar in 1868. Aviet was reputed to have written several legal books and said to have returned to India in...

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a politician and lawyer. He trained as a lawyer in England and was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971 as well as the Ghanaian Bar in July 1975. Nana was one of the founding members of the centrist New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 1992 and was also the...

Edward Akufo-Addo

Edward Akufo-Addo was a politician and lawyer in Ghana and one of the Big Six in the fight for the country's independence. He became the Chief Justice and later the President.

Edward came to England after winning a scholarship to St Peter's College, Oxford where he studied Philosophy,...

Syed Ameer Ali

Syed Ameer Ali was appointed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1909, becoming the first Indian to sit as a Law Lord of the Privy Council in England. He was born in Cuttack, Orissa, India on 6 April 1849 and was one of five brothers.

Syed was educated at Hoogly College and...

Lawumi Biriyok

Lawumi Biriyok, formerly principal at the London firm Biriyok Show, made history in May 2010 when she became the first female African to be elected chair of the Solicitor Sole Practitioners Group (SPG). The SPG was part of the The Law Society (until 2013 when it rejected joining the Law Society's...

Lord Paul Boateng

Paul Boateng became the UK’s first black Cabinet Minister of African ancestry in May 2002, when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury under the Labour Party Government of Tony Blair. He became a peer...

Thomas Morris Chester

Thomas Morris Chester, who was born in the US in 1834, is believed to have been the first African American to qualify as a barrister in England. He was admitted to Middle Temple in 1867 and was called to the Bar in 1870.

Thomas's mother was a slave who escaped from Baltimore in 1825 and...

Learie Nicholas Constantin

Learie Nicholas Constantine has been described as a legend in his time and had a multi-dimensional career, including being a barrister and a professional cricketer. He made history in many areas, he became the first black Rector of the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 1968, was the first...

Patricia Dangor

Patricia Dangor was the first person of African ancestry to be appointed a Circuit Judge of England and Wales in1999. In the County Courts she sat on family and civil law cases and in the Crown courts on criminal  cases. In 2013  she retired from the Circuit Bench. In June 2013 she was...

Sir Desmond de Silva QC

The Rt Hon Sir Desmond de Silva PC QC is a member of Argent's International Law team. He was the head of the chambers for nearly 25 years before deciding to solely concentrate on his legal...

Dame Linda Dobbs

The Honourable Dame Linda Dobbs DBE became Britain's first non-white High Court judge in 2004. Her several titles and accolades include Queen's Counsel, a number of doctorates and being a Dame of the British Empire. Dame Linda stepped down from the bench in April 2013 but still sits as a deputy...

George Edalji

George Edalji's family endured much racial intolerance in Great Wyrley, near Birmingham. His father was Indian and his mother Scottish - and in 1903, when he was a successful solicitor, he was the victim of a notorious miscarriage of justice. He was found guilty of a series of macabre incidents,...

Gifty Edila

Gifty Edila is the Corporate Director for Legal and Democratic Services at the London borough of Hackney. Prior to joining Hackney, she spent seven years as the first female and the first ethnic minority Director of Law and Administration at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the...

Tunji Fahm MBE

Tunji Fahm MBE was the first black ethnic minority lawyer to be appointed as a Chief Officer of a local authority legal department in the UK. He arrived in Cardiff, South Wales, from Nigeria in October 1954.

Tunji attended He attended the Inns of Court School of Law in 1966 and was called...

Christian Frederick Cole

Christian Frederick Cole - second son of clergyman Jacob Cole, of Kissy, Sierra Leone - was black African. He matriculated as a non-collegiate student at the University of Oxford in 1873, was admitted to Inner Temple in 1879 and called to the Bar in 1883. Christian seems to have been the first...

Sunil Gadhia

Sunil Gadhia was the first person of Asian origin to attain the height of Chief Executive of a City law firm in 2003 and, at the age of 38, was also one of the youngest. Sunil rose from being a trainee at Stephenson Harwood in 1988, qualifying as a solicitor in 1990 and making partner in 1997...

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, began his career as a lawyer. At the age of 19 he travelled to England to study at University College, London, before being admitted to Inner Temple. After being called to the Bar in 1891, Gandhi returned to...

Dr Frene Ginwala

Dr Frene Ginwala was the Speaker of the House in the South African parliament when the first democratic government, with Nelson Mandela as President, came into power in 1994 and she held the post until 2004. Frene was born in 1932 in Johannesburg. She was an active member of the African National...

Helen Grant

Helen Grant is the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport until the May 2015 election. She became the first black female Conservative MP in...

Kim Hollis QC

Kim Hollis became the UK's first female Asian QC when she took silk in 2002, having been called to the Bar (Gray's Inn) in 1979. She was appointed as a Bencher of Gray's Inn in 2008. Kim is a barrister at 25 Bedford Row Chambers and specialises in criminal defence - including very serious violent...

Ajmalul Hossain QC

Ajmalul Hossain QC is a barrister at Selborne Chambers, an Employment Tribunals Chairman and a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is also the senior partner of A Hossain & Associates, one of the leading commercial law firms of Bangladesh, based in Dhaka. He took silk in...

Trevor James

According to Trevor James, the high point of his career, spanning more than 20 years, was 4 December 2008 when he became the London Managing Partner at the London office of leading US law firm Morrison and Foerster, one of the 30 largest law firms in the world.    

On...

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Muhammad Ali Jinnah is known as the founder of Pakistan. Muhammad was the youngest known Indian to be a barrister as he was aged only 20 when he was called to the Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1896. He went on to become the first Governor General of the newly-formed Pakistan, in 1947. He has been...

Sibghat Kadri QC

Sibghat Kadri QC, Head of Chambers at 6 King's Bench Walk, was the joint founder (with Rudy Narayan) of the Society of Black Lawyers in 1973 and is a former BBC broadcaster. He is a leading authority on immigration and race relations and is the former Chairman of the Society of Afro-Asian and...

Alexander Kennedy Isbister

Alexander Kennedy Isbister, of Hudson Bay, who was part Native American, was admitted to Middle Temple in...

Sir Seretse Khama

Sir Seretse Khama was born on 1 July 1921 in Serowe, a British Protectorate of Bechuanaland, and went on to become Botswana's first prime minister and the country's founding president. Seretse's father was the paramount chief of the Bamangwato people and his...

Imran Khan

 

Imran Khan is a celebrated human rights and criminal lawyer and is seen by many as an icon because of his representation of the Stephen Lawrence family followed the racist murder of Stephen in 1993.

 

He and the Lawrence family (particularly Doreen Lawrence, now...

Sadiq Khan MP

Sadiq Khan became the first Asian and first Muslim Cabinet Minister when he was appointed as Secretary of State for Transport in 2009. He was also only the second Muslim Privy Counsellor, the first one being Syed...

John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor

John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor was the second president of the 4th Republic of Ghana between 2000 and 2009. When he was elected, it was the first time that power had changed hands by peaceful means in the country's 43-year history following independence in 1957.

John was born in Kumasi, Ghana in...

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