Lawyer becomes UK's youngest female judge at 31 after joining firm as teenager on work experience

Solicitor joined local law firm as 15-year-old and worked way up over 16 years

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The Independent Online

A solicitor who joined her local law firm as a 15-year-old work experience intern has become the youngest ever female judge.

Briony Clarke was sworn in as a deputy district judge after 16 years at Essex firm Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP (THB).

The 31-year-old took her judicial oaths this week, the day before International Women’s Day, in front of Chelmsford Crown Court resident judge Charles Gratwicke.

“It’s nice to have someone from our own community, embarking on the same career that we have all, at some stage, had to launch ourselves into,” said Mr Gratwicke.

Ms Clarke will not hit compulsory retirement age until January 2056.

“It’s a long time,” he said. “It just goes to show how young you are and how long a career you have.

“Many congratulations. Enjoy it.”

Richard Wright QC became the youngest ever judge when he was also made a deputy district judge at 29 in 2006.

Ms Clarke was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2009, became an accredited duty solicitor in 2010, a THB associate in 2013, and a partner in 2014.

She will continue her practice as normal but will sit part-time as a judge in magistrates’ courts.

A THB spokesman said: “We believe she is the youngest female applicant to have been successful.

“It is without doubt an extraordinary personal achievement and the partnership are absolutely delighted for her.”

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