There is no field where you don’t find women, including the legal profession. Not only are women present in this field, but they have striven to make an impact and continue to do so, inspiring and encouraging other women.
We bring you a list of some of these inspirational Indian female lawyers.
1. Cornelia Sorabji
Cornelia Sorabji was the first woman lawyer to breach the glass ceiling and practise law in India. She was the first woman advocate in India. She was well-known for her involvement in several social reform activities. She was an active member of the Bengal branch of the National Council for Women in India, the Federation of University Women and the Bengal League of Social Service. The Indian government awarded her the Kaiser-I-Hind Gold medal in 1907 for her social work. She worked extensively to help abolish Sati and Child Marriage and gave up her practice to work only for social reforms in 1929.
2. Violet Alva
Violet Alva will always be remembered as the first female lawyer to appear before the High Court. Apart from being a lawyer, she was also a journalist and the first woman to preside over the Rajya Sabha. If that wasn’t all, Violet started a women’s magazine called Indian Women. She was the first woman to be elected to the Standing Committee of the All India Newspaper Editors Conference in 1952. She was also actively associated with several social organizations, such as the Young Woman’s Christian Association, the Business and Professional Women’s Association and the International Federation of Women Lawyers.
3. Mithan Jamshed Lams
Mithan Jamshed Lams was the first woman barrister and lawyer in the Bombay High Court. She was a member of the All India Women’s Conference and had the distinction of serving as its President from 1961-62. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1962 for her contribution to society.
4. Indira Jaising
Indira Jaising is very well-known for her work in the space of human rights. She founded Lawyer’s Collective, a person’s rights organization, with her husband in 1981. Indira was the first woman to be appointed as the Additional Solicitor General in 2009. She has worked for the rights of the homeless dwellers of Mumbai, fought against the extrajudicial killings in Manipur and raised her voice in support of environmental causes. She is known amongst the top female lawyers in India.
5. Meenakshi Lekhi
Meenakshi Lekhi is a well-known lawyer and the national spokesperson of the BJP. She is known for her contribution to drafting two bills related to women’s empowerment in society; the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill and the Women’s Reservation Bill.
6. Karuna Nundy
Karuna Nundy, a practising Supreme Court lawyer, has contributed significantly towards the gender justice movement in India. She had a significant role in getting justice for the aggrieved in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and was also instrumental in drafting the Criminal Law Amendment Bill in 2013.
7. Menaka Guruswamy
Menaka Guruswamy has been an active contributor to the Right to Education Act which directs all private schools to acknowledge underprivileged children. She was also one of the lawyers leading the fight to scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexuality.
8. Vrinda Grover
Vrinda Grover is a lawyer, researcher, human rights activist, and women’s rights activist. She has actively fought many domestic violence cases and has been involved in the drafting of various critical laws. These include the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act 2012, the Criminal Law Amendment of 2013, and the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010. She is also one of the lawyers to have appeared in numerous landmark human rights cases, representing victims and survivors of communal massacres, extrajudicial killings, custodial torture, sexual minorities, trade unions, and political activists.
9. Pinki Anand
Pinky Anand was appointed the Additional Solicitor General of India in the Supreme Court in 2014. She was the second woman to assume the role after Indira Jaising. She has served as Chairperson of organizations like the National Committee Law and ASSOCHAM Ladies League and has previously been a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
10. Zia Modi
Zia Mody is a corporate lawyer considered one of the best in Corporate Merger and Acquisition Law, Securities Law, Private Equity, and Project Finance. She started her career in Mumbai in 1984 with AZB & Partners, one of India’s largest law firms, where she served as the managing partner. She is also a member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s committee on Mutual Funds and the Capital Market Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
11. Rebecca John
Rebecca John joined the legal profession in 1990 when there were very few female lawyers in the criminal field. She was the primary senior women’s lawyer, became a senior legal advocate in the legal code, and was designated as Senior Advocate in 2013 by the Supreme Court.
12. Kamini Jaiswal
Kamini Jaiswal is a lawyer known for her progressive and bold outlook on social issues. She is a practising lawyer at the Supreme Court of India and appeared for the PIL filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) in the Supreme Court on the 2G case. She is also a member of the Committee on Judicial Accountability, a group of eminent lawyers who work to improve the accountability of judges.
13. Flavia Agnes
Flavia Agnes is a practising lawyer at Mumbai High Court and is a prominent name in battles against domestic violence. She is the founder of MAJLIS, a legal-cultural resource centre which supports survivors of domestic and social abuse. Her centre has also played a significant role in definitive triple talaq cases, arguing for Muslim women’s rights.
14. Abha Singh
Abha Singh, a renowned social activist, is a former civil servant and a practising lawyer at the High Court of Judicature in Bombay. She is the author of the book “Stree-Dasha Aur Disha,” which discusses Women’s Rights and Laws and has played a crucial role in the cyber-harassment of women, #MeToomovemnt, menstrual rights and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Also Read: What is Business Casual for a Woman?
15. Deepika Singh Rajawat
Deepika Singh Rajawat is an advocate at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. She is known for her handling of the Kathua Rape case in Kashmir. She was the first person to file a written petition for Asifa’s case and did some path-breaking work in juvenile justice. She is also the Chairperson of ‘Voice For Rights”, an NGO working for human rights. She also works for CRY, a Delhi-based NGO for the protection of the rights of children.
Here’s to more of such women achievers!