Skip to main content

Masters of the Bench

Back to the Bench Directory

Her Honour Linda Sullivan KC

Full Title: Her Honour Linda Sullivan KC
Category: Senior Benchers
Bench Call Date: 2.7.1993
Call Date: 19.7.1973

Linda Sullivan read Philosophy at the University of Kent, but when she was forced to become the family’s breadwinner, she turned to teaching. Later on, she decided to follow in the footsteps of her  grandfather, AM Sullivan KC, the last Serjeant- at-Law. Linda worked full-time for what is now British Airways at Heathrow Airport, and studied Law by correspondence course.

Before the Discrimination Acts, women still encountered difficulties establishing themselves. Many chambers said they had never accepted a woman tenant and never would. Eventually, the then Middle Temple Students’ Officer, Jean Austin, persuaded what is now Outer Temple Chambers to accept Linda as a pupil and she was taken on as a tenant.
Clients were surprised to be represented by a woman. One man was discomfited in explaining, during his divorce proceedings, that the only thing he had in common with his wife was sex and that before he encountered female Counsel, he thought women were good for only one thing!

Having a family presented another problem for women in the 1970s; the advice was either to give up practice or not stop at all. Linda was back in court when her son was six weeks old, breastfeeding in between the court timetable. When she had twin daughters two years later, the lunch adjournment did not allow time for breastfeeding, so the twins stayed at home and she went to court with a large electric pump and a fridge – causing much consternation to the male security officers!

Linda’s practice was in common law on the Western Circuit, in the days when most chambers were still in London; taking the Sunday night sleeper to Plymouth and beyond was a regular event.

She was elected a Bencher in 1993, took Silk in 1994 and became the first woman Acting Deemster in the Isle of Man in 1994. She was a Legal Chair of Mental Health Review Tribunals
for several years. She was elected Reader in 2009 and that same year appointed a Circuit Judge.

Linda now enjoys studying Mandarin and visiting her grandchildren in China and in places nearer to home.