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Trailblazing lawyer Lady Morris of Kenwood wins CBE for tireless charity work

Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood, CBE, in her office at Manuel Swaden Solicitors. Picture: Polly Hancock Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood, CBE, in her office at Manuel Swaden Solicitors. Picture: Polly Hancock

Saturday, June 28, 2014
3:00 PM

One of the first women to become a senior partner of a major law firm has been honoured by the Queen for her tireless commitment to the community.

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Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for lending her support and dedication to numerous causes over the years.

The Hampstead resident, who lives in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, was made a CBE for services to the community, having combined her charitable efforts with a 53-year legal career.

She said “It feels amazing to be recognised in such a way and given this great honour.

“I got a letter through the post and was told not to tell anyone for five weeks – it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do!”

Lady Morris followed in the footsteps of her father Baron Barnett Janner, who was a Labour MP for Leicester from 1945 until 1970, as a leading member of the Jewish community.

Her charitable roles include being a trustee of the Jewish Youth Fund, which provides grants to Jewish youth organisations, and a patron of the Jewish Aids Trust, which supports Jewish communities affected by HIV and challenges the social stigma surrounding the condition, which can develop into Aids.

She has also travelled extensively with the charity Womankind Worldwide to visit and help with projects in India, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

In her professional life, Lady Morris – whose “of Kenwood” title refers to an area of Sheffield rather than the estate on Hampstead Heath – is one of the longest continuously-practising members of the Law Society.

At the age of 81, she still works as a consultant for the West Hampstead firm Manuel Swaden Solicitors, in West End Lane.

In the 1960s, she quickly rose through the ranks as a solicitor, becoming one of the first female senior partners of a large law practice.

“I was 36 at the time and I was the only female amongst nine male senior partners,” she said. It was a real test for me.

“But my greatest achievement doesn’t feature in what I’ve done in my working life.

“It is the fact that I have raised four wonderful children who love and get on with each other. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

When asked if this award would change anything in her life, Lady Morris remained modest.

“I don’t think anything in particular will change for me. I’m too old for anything to drastically change in my life now,” she said.

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