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Women make up quarter of Scottish judiciary

WOMEN judges make up more than a quarter of the judiciary in Scotland after the appointment of two QCs to the bench.

For the first time ever the two latest candidates recommended by the Independent Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland are both female.

Sheriff Rita Rae QC and Sarah Wolffe QC have been appointed Senators of the College of Justice by Her Majesty the Queen, on the recommendation of First Minister Alex Salmond.

It brings the number of female judges in the Court of Session and High Court to nine. There are 34 judges in total.

The move comes after Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court in London, said she was disappointed more women had not reached the highest echelons of the judiciary.

Scotland's first female judge, Lady Cosgrove, has also called for an overhaul of the appointments process in a bid to encourage more women to apply for the highest legal office. Speaking last year, she said the level of female representation was frankly disappointing.

Sheriff Rae was a solicitor for several years before joining the Faculty of Advocates in 1982. She took silk in 1992 and has been a sheriff at Glasgow since 1997, and a temporary judge since 2004.

She was a member and laterally Vice-Chairman of the Parole Board for Scotland between 2001 and 2007, and has chaired the Glasgow branch of the Scottish Association for the Study of Offending since 2003. Sheriff Rae will be installed as a Senator on January 14 in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Mrs Wolffe qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and, after working in the legal department of the Bank of Scotland, was called to the Bar in 1994. She practised as a junior counsel mainly in commercial and public law and was standing junior counsel to the Department of Trade and Industry.

In 2008, Mrs Wolffe was appointed QC. She has been an ad hoc advocate-depute for six years, and was a member of the Faculty's Disciplinary Tribunal from 2005 to 2008.

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