Retired judge in hall of fame
VALERIE French does not view the world in gender terms.
The retired Cottesloe barrister, judge and magistrate did not even realise she was the first woman to sign the WA Bar Roll in 1975.
“I was just a very young lawyer,” Mrs French said.
Mrs French was among 15 women inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame on International Women’s Day last month.
She was impressed with the cross-section of talented women in the group, particularly Paula Wagg, who was the first West Australian female jockey to ride against men, and Jan Cooper, who is the AFL female football national manager.
The mother of three sons said she did not face pressure to return to full-time work after she had children.
“I worked part-time for 10 years when I started a family; I was very fortunate to do that,” Mrs French said.
She had most enjoyed working as a magistrate in the juvenile justice system.
“It was a very challenging area because we dealt with the most serious of juvenile offenders,” she said.
“I always thought it was very important to communicate to the outer community to explain what was done in the Children’s Court. I’d always make myself available to my peers and community groups.”
Mrs French retired in 2009 aged 60 and six months.
Nowadays, Mrs French is kept busy babysitting her 17-month-old twin granddaughters.
Retired judge Valerie French.