Celebrating a Sheffield Law alumna

The University has a proud history of Law and last month we were able to commemorate an important part of it.

Just before the 10th annual Edward Bramley lecture was delivered by our Chancellor, The Rt Hon Lady Justice Anne Rafferty, DBE (herself a law alumna from 1971) we were able to remember and celebrate Edris Irene Hopkins, Sheffield’s first female barrister and a pioneering figure in the University’s history.

Part of a family of Sheffield alumni, Edris’ son John (BA (Econ) 1960) was in attendance for the lecture and presented Lady Justice Rafferty with a portrait of his mother which will now hang in the University’s School of Law in Bartolome House.

Edris was at the forefront of opening up the law profession for other women, such as our Chancellor, and demonstrating that anyone, no matter their gender, could practise law. Edris Froggatt (as she was at the time) came to study at Sheffield in 1927 and graduated with an LLB in 1930, and LLM in 1931. Edris also honed her competitive edge while at Sheffield, as she learned how to fence under the watchful eye of Sarge Cofield.

She went on to be called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1932. She completed her pupillage with Mr Peter Brough in the leading Chancery chambers of Mr Wilfred Hunt in Lincoln’s Inn. Other junior barristers in that set of chambers at that time were Mr Gerald Upjohn (later Lord Upjohn) and Mr Charles Harman (later Lord Justice Harman). Edris passed away in 1998 aged 88.

The Froggatt / Hopkins family maintains strong connections to the University through John, who has been a firm friend of the University, a donor, as well as a volunteer, sitting on the Alumni Foundation committee which awards grants to support student clubs and societies. However, the family connection goes back even further, to Edris’ father, Dr G H Froggatt, who was the first Dean of the Dental Faculty at the University.

Speaking about the presentation Miles Stevenson, Director of Advancement at the University of Sheffield said:

“The University’s School of Law has many distinguished alumni, from our own Chancellor Lady Justice Rafferty to Sir Maurice Kay, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, and even includes famous names from the world of literature such as Dame Hilary Mantel and Lee Child. But before all of them came Edris, a talented barrister and pioneer for women within the legal profession. We are proud to have equipped her with the skills she needed to flourish in the 1930s, and we continue to do this with our students from across society to this day.”

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Lady Justice Rafferty accepting the portrait from Edris' son John

Edris Hopkins