Equal to Everything: Judge Brenda and the Supreme Court
“It’s been an amazing life and I’m thrilled at the idea of making it into a picture book to entertain and inspire young people”– Lady Hale
About the book
Equal to Everything tells the story of Ama, who starts a new school when her family move to Richmond in Yorkshire. On her first day she learns about a school trip to London where they will see many well-known landmarks including the Supreme Court in Parliament Square.
On this trip, Ama and class 3 learn about the work of the court and how another little girl from her town went on to become its president. Class 3 can’t believe it when the president, Lady Hale, comes to meet them. They ask her questions and she explains how the law works and some of the interesting cases that illustrate how important the law is to help people and how difficult it is to make just and fair decisions.
Written in rhyming couplets and beautifully illustrated in colour throughout, the book introduces important concepts of justice, fairness and equality in a fun and interesting way and promotes discussion. It presents diverse images of children and depicts a positive and aspirational vision of the Supreme Court of the future.
About Lady Hale
Lady Hale, the former President of the Supreme Court, had long been an icon in the legal world. She has championed the rights of the vulnerable and children and proudly called herself a feminist. As a judge she was lauded for her calm, direct and authoritative approach.
Following the prorogation case in September 2019, Lady Hale became widely known to the general public and the Lady with the spider brooch became world-famous. As a result, there is much more interest in the work of the courts and the rule of law which could not have come at a better time for LAG’s first children’s book.
Why did we do it?
As a charity committed to access to justice, part of our mission is to promote public legal education. Justice should be accessible to all members of society regardless of means, but as legal aid has become less available, more people have been prevented from accessing a lawyer and so have been unable to secure their rights.
LAG believes that public legal education should start in schools and this book, aimed at primary school children, explains how the rule of law underpins a fair and equal society. It illustrates basic concepts of justice, fairness and equality in a fun and interesting way, using real cases from Lady Hale’s career (including some in which she made important dissenting judgments).
We also want inspire children to believe they can reach the top of whatever profession they choose and what better example than Lady Hale? A state-school educated woman who rose to the very top of a profession still dominated by men and the privately educated.
We want to see a diverse judiciary of the future that is representative of the society we live in and we want this book to education and inspire the next generation. Equal to Everything presents diverse images of children and depicts a positive and aspirational vision of the Supreme Court of the future.
LAG wants to get a copy of Equal to Everything into EVERY primary school in England. We have received a number of donations from individuals and law firms to help us meet this goal. Some have donated books to supply every school in a particular local authority.
Equal to Everything is an excellent teaching resource for young children:
•Inspirational story of the first ever female president of the Supreme Court.
•Introduces important concepts of justice, fairness and equality in a fun and interesting way and promotes discussion:
•are the judges like the ones on Strictly Come Dancing?
•do judges have a fight when they disagree?
•did Lady Hale really cancel all holidays to Disney World?
•Presents diverse images of children and depicts a positive and aspirational vision of the Supreme Court of the future.
•Contains educational and biographical information about Lady Hale in a separate section useful for parents/teachers.
Bidwell Henderson kicked off the sponsorship for schools by donating a book to every primary school in Derbyshire and are continuing to fundraise for another county. Central Leeds schools have received books from Henrietta Hill QC at Doughty Street Chambers and we had anonymous donors for every primary school in the London Borough of Merton and in The City of London.
The campaign is gaining momentum with books about to go out to three further London Boroughs and we are in ongoing discussions with organisations around the country.
Can you help us?
If you are interested in supporting this project and providing books to your local area please get in touch with Jo Walters: firstname.lastname@example.org
. We can let you know how many schools are in your area and help or advise on distribution.
Watch this space for further donation anouncements!
Rebecca Bidwell of Bidwell Henderson meets Lady Hale
Henrietta Hill QC and her packing team at Doughty Street Chambers
Lots of children (and adults!) are sharing their joy at reading Equal to Everything.
We believe that books should have no age limits. Anyone, of any age, can enjoy a picture book and it is fantastic to hear from the many lawyers who were inspired by Lady Hale and find resonance in reading about the world they live in. Many have told us how wonderful it has been to share this book with their children and help them understand what their parent does at work!
We have loved getting messages and letters. If you want to share your views with us we would love to hear! Email us at JudgeBrenda@lag.org.uk
Below is a small selection of the messages and comments we have received:
“Failed the frog test but did notice freckled Henry had morphed into a rather good looking Titian haired lady. Super book - should be in every school classroom and every Christmas stocking.”
“Love the book and the frogs! Lovely caricature of the Equal Pay ladies including Barbara Castle.”
“Just to say a massive thank you for your inspiring book … My 2 daughters ordered it straight away and have read it several times as soon as it arrived (even though they are 16 and 14). They both care strongly about fairness and maybe one day can follow in your footsteps and make a difference in this crazy world.”
“Thank you so much it was wonderfully written, however not just for children which I presume is the marketing strategy. This books is perfect as a bit of light relief for law students in their first year trying to get to grips with why they have decided to put themselves through this. Your book has just reinforced why I decided to study law :)”
“This is such a lovely aspirational book, beautifully illustrated and with lovely accessible rhyme … It is so good to see black and brown faces centre-stage alongside the white ones (my own grandchildren are mixed-race and the future is theirs). Stellar role models such as Brenda Hale give one cause to hope that it may be possible to win through. LAG - please keep up the good work!”
“My 9-year-old son and I have been blessed to read your story written by the incredible writer Afua Hirsch. The book was offered to my son as a gift from a solicitor who was impressed by his love for reading. We took turns reading it during family time and we learned about your bravery, hardwork and the many changes you brought to the lives of many children, their families and the rest of the world with the power of law … You are now a big inspiration for my son and myself.”
The launch of Equal to Everything
(L–r) Dr Laura Janes, Henny Beaumont, Lady Hale, Afua Hirsch, Esther Pilger and Carol Storer
The launch for the LAG children’s book, Equal to Everything: Judge Brenda and the Supreme Court
, took place in the Supreme Court on 10 October. The UCL Faculty of Laws sponsored the reception and many commented that it was rare to have such a joyful and inspirational event in the legal world.
Prints of Henny Beaumont’s beautiful illustrations were displayed both inside and outside courtroom no 2, mixing happily with the existing First 100 Years exhibition. This was a happy coincidence as the First 100 Years
project supported the launch.
At 6.30 pm, attendees went into court for a few speeches. Carol Storer, interim director of LAG, thanked all involved, with a special mention for publishing director Esther Pilger, and introduced the speakers. Dr Laura Janes, chair of LAG, said that when she and her daughter chatted about a book, along the lines of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg children’s book, they could not have foreseen that Lady Hale would be at the forefront of people’s minds when it was published almost two years later. A comment was made to Laura that LAG did well to get a book out so quickly in the circumstances.
Laura highlighted the need for people to know what the law does and how it is an essential part of our functioning democracy, not just something that affects criminals and is administered by people in strange costumes. The book, she said, ‘presents a vision of the judges of tomorrow as a truly diverse judiciary that I hope will be a reality when our children are grown up, if not before’.
The book’s author, Afua Hirsch, spoke in glowing terms of how she knew Laura from several years ago when they both worked at Doughty Street Chambers, and therefore had been enthusiastic to work on this project, particularly as Lady Hale is such a role model.
Henny Beaumont stood in front of one of her illustrations as she spoke. She, too, was delighted to be involved. Indeed, everyone had loved working with Lady Hale, who had been involved at each stage of the publishing process.
Lady Hale said she had been embarrassed when asked if she would give the project her blessing and that she remained so, but that after reading the book to a class of schoolchildren that morning and being asked lots of questions, felt that it had achieved its aim of getting children interested in the justice system.
On the morning of its launch, Lady Hale read Equal to Everything to a group of children from St Matthew’s School & Nursery, Westminster
Buy the artwork
From February to June 2020, a small selection of the original artwork will be on display in the Supreme Court, near the café in the basement.
Supporters and crowdfunding
LAG was able to produce Equal to Everything through a successful fundraising campaign in 2018. The Sigrid Rausing Trust very generously made us a grant of £15 000, and we were able to crowdfund another £10 000. We were blown away by the generosity of our benefactors, many of whom were women working in law.
Below is a list of a few of the donors to the project who have agreed to be publicly identified, along with the comments they made.
•Helena Kennedy QC, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws
Brenda Hale is a feminist icon. Not just because of being a ‘first’. The first women in leadership roles are symbolically important but she has also fought hard to secure real changes in the law to secure justice for women - that puts her at a totally different level. She is a true heroine.
•Henrietta Hill QC, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
I am delighted to support this innovative project, which I am sure will reach out to and inspire our next generation of lawyers.
•Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Director, Youth Justice Legal Centre
There couldn’t be a more important time to teach children and young people of the importance of access to justice... How better than to celebrate the contribution made by Lady Hale, such an inspirational role model for all girls and young women?
•Ruth Brander, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
This is a fantastic project. The importance of role models should not be underestimated.
•Rebecca Trowler QC, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
This is a brilliant project. Knowing about Brenda Hale, the girl and the woman, her journey and her achievement, has the power to uplift, affirm and encourage not only girls who are aspiring academics, lawyers and judges, but every girl who reads the book.