Masters of the Bench
Miss Rosalind Foster
Full Title: Miss Rosalind FosterCategory: Senior Benchers
Bench Call Date: 22.7.1996
Call Date: 25.11.1969
Rosalind Foster was Called to the Bar in 1969, having read Jurisprudence at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. During her first attempt at a major Middle Temple Scholarship, she was told by the only other candidate that she would not succeed, as priority was always given to someone from Trinity College, Oxford. He was right.
On reapplying the following year, the Chair of the Scholarship Panel told her that the Bar was a most unsuitable career for a woman and that instead she should get married. When Rosalind replied that she was getting married – to the very man to whom the Scholarship had been awarded the previous year – he told her that she should get on with looking after her husband and having babies.
The other panel members were, she thought, rather amazed by his attitude; shortly afterwards, she received a telephone call apologising for the way she had been treated and offering her the Scholarship. How times have changed!
For nearly ten years, Rosalind gained extensive experience of advocacy on the Western Circuit, commuting to Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire routinely, and frequently doing the whole list – sometimes prosecuting and at others defending. She had three children – yet managed to continue working throughout.
By 1986, she had developed an exclusively specialist practice instructed by the bodies regulating health professionals, particularly doctors and dentists. She was involved in a number of very high-profile cases, including the Turkish Kidneys for Sale case and the Bristol Paediatric Cardiac Surgery case.
Rosalind was appointed an Assistant Recorder in 1982, when she was only 35. She was elected a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 1996.
By 2002 it was time for a change, and since then she has sat as Judge on the Mental Health Review Tribunal. This role makes use of her medical knowledge and is both challenging and worthwhile. It involves teamwork with a specialist lay member and a consultant psychiatrist.
Rosalind does not think it coincidental that she was taught biology at school by a surgeon, and had always wanted to study medicine since.