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New College Lanarkshire students enjoy virtual chat with High Court judge

New College Lanarkshire students spent the evening under the gaze of a High Court judge – but not to worry, they weren’t in any kind of trouble.

The legal studies group enjoyed a virtual event with Lady Rita Rae, where they heard about her remarkable journey from attending school in Coatbridge to becoming a Senator of the College of Justice.

The session provided the opportunity for students and staff to hear about Lady Rae’s life, experiences and views on a range of issues, including challenging gender stereotypes.

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Lady Rae told her audience that when she first qualified as a solicitor in the 1970s, she was the only female solicitor in Glasgow engaged full-time in criminal legal work.

As her career developed, she went on to become an Advocate, a QC, a Sheriff at Glasgow and then a High Court judge. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Glasgow in recognition of her contribution to Scots law.

Francesca Formaglio, a student on the college’s HNC legal studies course, said: “Lady Rae’s story was inspiring and encouraging and should motivate all young women out there who aspire to have a career in law.”

Fellow student Lori McGroarty added: “I’ve always been cautious that perhaps my own emotions would hold me back from a career in the law, but after Lady Rae answered my question about preparing for cases mentally, it changed my outlook and made me feel more confident.”

The college’s principal and chief executive, Professor Christopher Moore, said: “This was a really interesting and engaging session with Lady Rae. I was very impressed with her candour and I thought our students were really excellent in their questioning.”

Law lecturer Ciaran O’Neill organised the evening and expressed his delight with how it went, saying: “These events provide an invaluable insight into a life that many students will find truly inspirational.

“It’s always fascinating to hear of people’s differing journeys in life and how they themselves were inspired to achieve their goals. Lady Rae’s story was captivating and I can only thank her enormously for giving up her time and engaging with my students.”

Lady Rae added: “Thank you for the opportunity of speaking with your students. I love speaking with young people as they are our future.”

New College Lanarkshire offers a range of legal studies courses, from NQ to HND; more details can be found here

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