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A first for everything: Ex-Linklaters partner breaks new ground with High Court appointment

As the profession’s liberal wing casts a sceptical eye over the Bar’s lack of diversity, former Linklaters capital markets partner Clare Moulder has made history by becoming the first female solicitor to be appointed to the High Court without practising as a barrister.

Moulder, who joined Linklaters in 1982 and made partner in 1991, will take her post on 2 October following the appointment of Sir Julian Martin Flaux to the Court of Appeal.

At Linklaters, Moulder acted as a relationship partner for some of the City giant’s key banking clients and also possessed a broad banking and capital markets practice. In 2010 she was appointed as a recorder and two years later was authorised to sit as a deputy High Court Judge. Moulder was appointed as a Specialist Circuit judge in 2015.

Linklaters senior partner Charlie Jacobs described Moulder’s selection as ‘an historic day for the UK legal profession’ and ‘proof that talented solicitors can make the transition to the highest ranks of the judiciary’.

Law Society president Joe Egan added: ‘Being appointed to the High Court bench is a significant achievement for any practitioner. That Clare Moulder comes from two groups who remain under-represented in the higher levels of the judiciary – women and solicitors – makes her appointment all the more significant.’

Women currently make up 21 of the 96 High Court judges, under a quarter (22%) of the group. Statistics published by the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary in July indicated that 28% of court judges were female and that a third were from non-barrister backgrounds.

However, there have been positive signs for diversity campaigners in recent months, with the Supreme Court appointing its first female head as Lady Hale replaced the outgoing Lord Neuberger.

Hale, who is often considered the court’s most progressive judge, was also the first woman appointed to the Law Commission in 1984 and became the first woman at the UK’s top court when she joined the House of Lords five years before its rebirth as the Supreme Court.

Julian Knowles, QC of Matrix Chambers, was also appointed to the High Court this month. Knowles, who was called to the Bar in 1994 and made Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2011, specialises in criminal law, human rights law, public law, and media law.

Other high profile appointees include 5RB’s joint head of chambers Matthew Nicklin QC and David Williams QC of 4 Paper Buildings.

In January’s round of QC appointments, 73% of successful applicants were male. However, women tended to be more successful relative to applications, with 55% of female applicants succeeding in comparison to only 41% of males.