This paper explores the experience of leadership in the life narrative of the trailblazing Western Australian lawyer, Valerie French. In 1975 Valerie was the first woman to sign the Western Australian Bar Roll, and became the first woman barrister practising in the west coast legal fraternity. Until her retirement in 2009 from the Western Australian judiciary, Valerie’s professional appointments and career trajectory continued to lead the entry of women into the WA legal profession. In 2010, Valerie’s own narrative of her life in the law was recorded as part of the ‘Trailblazing Women and the Law Project’ led by the ANU College of Law. In this narrative we hear, for the first time, the story of her success and her ‘leadership’ experience. After detailing her story we turn to consider the implications of the overwhelming emphasis placed on external support and ‘chance’ by this legal pioneer to explain her professional life.
|Title of host publication||Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in Twentieth-century Australia|
|Editors||Fiona Davis, Nell Musgrove, Judith Smart|
|Place of Publication||Melbourne|
|Publisher||University of Melbourne|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
Kerwin, H., & Rubenstein, K. (2011). Reading the Life Narrative of Valerie French, the First Woman to Sign the Western Australian Bar Roll. In F. Davis, N. Musgrove, & J. Smart (Eds.), Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in Twentieth-century Australia (pp. 172-187). University of Melbourne. http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/fff/pdfs/french.pdf