President of the Law Society receives Honorary Doctorate
21 September 2022
I. Stephanie Boyce has received an honorary doctorate for her services in law from the University of East London's Royal Docks School of Business and Law.
She is the 177th President of the Law Society of England and Wales, which represents more than 200,000 solicitors, and the sixth female, the first black office holder, the first person of colour and the second in-house solicitor in almost 50 years to hold this post.
Receiving her doctorate and addressing the law students graduating that day, I. Stephanie Boyce said:
"Don't ever allow anyone to take your dream away from you. Dare to be bold and beautiful, dare to make a positive difference and never ever give up."
Growing up, I. Stephanie Boyce was inspired to study law because of her strong sense of justice and the injustices she saw unfolding around the world at that time. She wanted to affect change and be part of that change. However, her journey to the law was not without its challenges. Stephanie's grandparents and parents came to Britain from the Caribbean and as first-generation British, she did not come from a privileged background. A child of a single parent from a working-class home she was the first person in her family to stay in education after the age of 16. Having failed the 11 plus she attended the local comprehensive school. She said: "In my heart, I nursed a dream of becoming a solicitor but, time and time again, I was told because of my low socio-economic background I would never make it."
It was while she was studying her legal practice course at the College of Law (now the University of Law) in Guildford that she met two extraordinary members of the faculty who were to inspire her: Sarah Grey and Melanie Williams. Through their support and encouragement she was able to focus on developing her legal mind. From this, she went onto train and qualify as a solicitor with Horwood and James Solicitors. She was admitted as a solicitor in 2002 and went onto practice in corporate governance, regulatory frameworks and professional regulation.
In 2021 and 2022 she was selected on the Power List 100 for the Most Influential Black People in the UK. She holds a master of laws in public law and global governance from King's College London and is a fellow of the Chartered Governance Institute. She is a member of the HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) independent taskforce to boost socio-economic diversity at senior levels in UK financial and professional services.
One of her passions as the President of the Law Society has been to ensure that justice remains accessible for all. She recognises that ordinary people are finding it more difficult to access justice. She said, "With legal aid cuts, court closures, increased court fees and changes to the rules regarding the legal costs a client can recover, now more than ever it is vital we continue to campaign to improve access to justice, regardless of social background or wealth."
Professor Mohammad Ali, Dean of the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, said: "It is a great honour to have conferred the honorary doctorate to I. Stephanie Boyce today. Her story is truly amazing and she is a great inspiration to the law students graduating today, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds such as hers."