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The Hon Mrs Justice McGowan

Full Title: The Hon Mrs Justice McGowan
Category: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 21.11.2005
Call Date: 25.11.1980

Maura McGowan was appointed a High Court Judge in 2014. She sits in the Queen’s Bench Division and is currently a Presiding Judge on the South Eastern Circuit – only the second woman ever to have been a Presider on that Circuit.

She had not thought about  a career at the Bar until Sixth Form when, as a member of her debating team,  she  went to compete at another school. Her team did well and won. The teacher from the other side took
it personally, and told her that she should become a barrister – which was not meant as a compliment. Maura had a place at Manchester University to read English, but changed to study Law.

As a junior, she specialised in criminal work at 2 Bedford Row in London and Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester, and practised predominantly on the South Eastern Circuit. Maura took Silk in 2001, and tackled ‘gangland’ organised crime cases, terrorism and fraud. She appeared in several public inquiries, acted for the main police officer in the Climbié Inquiry, and was Leading Counsel to the Hallett Review into ‘on the run’ letters issued to escaped Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland.

She was named Lawyer of the Year by Legal Business in 2014 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chambers UK in 2016.

Maura was Chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales in 2013 – only the second woman Chair. She had previously served on the Conduct and Law Reform Committees.

She has been involved with the Inn throughout her career, starting on the MTSA and then on the Hall Committee. She was elected a Bencher in 2005 and was Chair of the Bench Selection Advisory Committee from 2015-18.

She is an Advanced International Advocacy Trainer and has taught and lectured in many jurisdictions; she is involved in international judicial training in Uganda, Mexico and (with AdvocAid) in Sierra Leone.

Maura is a consulting editor of Archbold, sits on the editorial board of the Criminal Law Review, is a Trustee of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute and a Governor of Goodenough College, London. She will be Treasurer in 2022.