‘The law has to be informed by values’ said Baroness Helena Kennedy QC at the Law School opening

To celebrate the opening of the University of Roehampton Law School, Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws QC addressed key members of the Law School including students and staff as well as members of the community in a keynote speech.

Posted: 20 June 2016

image for news story ‘The law has to be informed by values’ said Baroness Helena Kennedy QC at the Law School opening
Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws QC

One of the UK’s most distinguished lawyers, she has practised at the Bar for forty years in the field of criminal law and has conducted many of the leading causes in those years. She has championed for law reform for women and is also the leading voice for equal opportunities in the legal profession for women.

In her keynote, she discussed the importance of law nationally and internationally, developing the law profession to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to become lawyers, and the vital role of human rights in law.

Baroness Kennedy said: “Law is crucial in almost every aspect of people’s lives. The truth is, we need law. Because the organisation of our society requires that we do have law. And therefore, lawyers are essential to the well-running of a society.” 

She discussed how Britain is proud of having played a central role in the development of law around the world. She said “As great nations are built on good law, democracy alone has little meaning without the rule of law.”

Baroness Kennedy also noted globalisation presented fresh challenges for law. One of the most vital ways that the legal system works comes from the “enriched notion that nobody should be above the law, and we have to have ways of challenging abuses of power. Law is not always delivered in the way we have it, but it has certainly informed nation building everywhere.”

She also stated how important that “The law has to be informed by values.” and that “Any university worth its name should be engaging with the business of law. The University of Roehampton is giving opportunities to make sure that the profession is peopled by people from other backgrounds.”

Since the 1970s, “The Bar has been enriched by people of many different backgrounds coming into the profession, but it’s still not open enough. And that’s why it’s important that Roehampton is opening its Law School, bringing people through a good and rigorous law degree will mean that we actively enrich the legal profession and the service that provides to our community at large.”

To close, Baroness Kennedy stressed the importance and value of human rights, no matter which area of law you practice, “Respecting the dignity of everybody and ensuring that those values of human rights are there in all that we do…There is a way we can work together to make sure law is well-protected. If people don’t have access to good lawyers then it’s meaningless to talk about the importance of law and justice. If people don’t have access to good lawyers and can’t afford to go to them then we really are living a lie. So we’ve got to become full champions for the importance of law, because it matters.”

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