30 November 2023
Portrait of first woman solicitor in Ireland unveiled.
Law Society of Northern Ireland has this week unveiled a unique portrait of a
young woman at Law Society House in Belfast city centre.
black and white portrait is like many you will find in museums and galleries
around the world but this one is uniquely different and somewhat inspiring.
portrait depicts Dorothea Heron a young woman who would go on to make
legal history by becoming the first woman Solicitor on the Roll on the island
in Harcourt Street in Dublin on the 19th of August 1896, Deasie as
she was known to her family was educated at Victoria College, Belfast and later
at Queens University Belfast where she read classics, graduating in 1918.
went on to study Law again at Queens University graduating with a first-class
degree in 1921.
Following the tumultuous struggle of the WW1 and the political emancipation of
women in 1918 the professions were for the first time opened to women.
Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 allowed Dorothea Heron to be the first
woman in Ireland to be apprenticed to a Solicitor’s firm of T M Heron in
the 17th April 1923, she was registered as a Solicitor in the Roll
of Solicitors by the Law Society of Ireland in Dublin and during her
apprenticeship Ireland witnessed the War of Independence, partition and civil
was decided by the Law Society’s north and south that the apprentices could
register on the Rolls of both now separate jurisdictions.
Dorothea continued to work in her uncle’s firm as a conveyancer which did not
require her to apply for annual practising certificates.
remained in the firm until her retirement in 1946.
Her last remaining years were spent living in
Portstewart and sadly she passed away as the result of a stroke in 1960 at the
age of 63.
Commenting on the unveiling of the new portrait the President of the Law
Society of Northern Ireland, Darren Toombs said:
Society is delighted to unveil the portrait of Dorothea Heron a truly
inspirational woman and solicitor.
her actions she empowered countless generations of women to pursue a career in
success inspired others including Thomasina McKinney who
became the first woman President of the Law Society Northern Ireland in 1978.
legacy lives on and is evident in the majority of trainee solicitors at the
Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queens University Belfast are now
women (70%) and in 2023 women solicitors make up the majority of the profession
under 35 years old.
firm of T M Heron Belfast still practices today as Diamond Heron, and they can
be justly proud of Dorothea who like her contemporaries in the Legal Profession
decided that women were entitled to a career in the law”.
new portrait was unveiled at a ceremony at Law Society House in Belfast on
Wednesday 29th November 2023 by past President, Margaret Elliott and
new President, Darren Toombs.
New LSNI President, Darren Toombs and past President, Margaret Elliott
Current Diamond Heron staff