Re­tired judge in hall of fame

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion - By DENISE S. CAHILL

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.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d466726

Re­tired judge Valerie French.

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