Gifty Edila

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Gifty Edila has a passion for working in the community and helping the disadvantaged and holds a television programme responsible for her choice of a career in Law – a career in which she excelled and achieved a number of “firsts”.

Between 1993 and 2001, Gifty was the Head of Law at the London Borough of Newham – the first person of ethnic minority to hold such a post within a large unitary local authority. Then she became the first female and the first ethnic minority Director of Law and Administration at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – home of Europe’s biggest carnival, Notting Hill. In February 2009 she swapped her role within that wealthiest local authority in the UK for a potentially tougher and challenging role at the London Borough of Hackney.

She led award-winning teams at Newham, Kensington and Chelsea and Hackney – making her the first Director of Law to have won all three coveted public sector/in-house accolades in three local authorities.

In yet another first - Gifty was the first ethnic minority President of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS), a post she held from October 2004 until November 2005.

She was named in The Lawyer magazine's Hot 100 for 2005 and again in 2010. She was described in 2010 as one of Hackney's "most tireless advocates". She also won the Excel Ghana Professional Award for Lawyer of the Year in 2002 and the Black Solicitors Network's Outstanding Solicitor of the Year award for 2010. In addition, she was named by the Local Government Chronicle as one of five top lawyers in local government in 2005.

Gifty remains at Hackney as its Corporate Director for Legal and Democratic Services – having seen it through being a host borough for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. She is also the current Chair of the Board of Trustees at the BLD Foundation, which supports young people from BME and disadvantaged backgrounds who are pursuing a legal career.

Back in 2009, in an interview with BLD, Gifty was asked why she chose a legal career. She replied: “I actually blame it on the television series Crown Court! I was inspired by watching the programme and thinking that I could do that and help the poor people whom no-one else seems to be able to help. The advocacy attracted me to the Bar - that is speaking up for others. This is the reason I have been in the public sector.”

Gifty was born in Accra and brought up in Camden. She gained her degree and Master of Laws from the University of London and was called to the Bar in 1979. She is also a Solicitor-Advocate and an accredited mediator.

She did her pupillage at 4 Brick Court, then the Chambers of Barbara Calvert QC (also known as Lady Lowry QC) - the first woman to set up her own Chambers. Gifty did not find the Bar stimulating and decided to pursue postgraduate studies, resulting in obtaining her Masters in 1981.

Gifty then joined the North Kensington Law Centre, where she found her passion for working in the community and helping the disadvantaged, a period she described as “thoroughly enjoyable”. She remained at the Law Centre until 1982.

After spending two years in Nigeria, where she was also called to the Bar, Gifty returned to become an in-house barrister at the then Camden Law Centre. She specialised in family law, crime, immigration, social and general welfare law and she remained there until 1988 when she joined the London Borough of Newham as a senior solicitor before rising to its Head of Legal Services. 

Gifty has been a board member of the Council at Loughborough University since 2006. She has written a number of articles on legal issues and often chairs and speaks at conferences.

See Also: 
the Legal History, In-House and the Legal Eves sections.