Reading the Life Narrative of Valerie French, the First Woman to Sign the Western Australian Bar Roll

Hollie Kerwin, Kim Rubenstein

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapter

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFounders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in Twentieth-century Australia
EditorsFiona Davis, Nell Musgrove, Judith Smart
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherUniversity of Melbourne
Chapter11
Pages172-187
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781921775680
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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    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