Cornelia Sorabji Scholarship in Law

Cornelia Sorabji seated portraitSomerville College and Oxford’s Faculty of Law have launched a campaign to create a scholarship for an Indian trainee lawyer to study law at Oxford. The scholarship, which will require a £1.2 million endowment, will be named after Cornelia Sorabji, “the first woman to read law at Oxford, the first Indian national to study at a British university and the first woman to practice law in both Britain and India.” See this Oxford Law newsletter (p.75) for more. Sorabji’s path to the practice of law was by no means easy. She was blocked from practicing in British India at every point until she came up with the ingenious idea of making herself legal adviser to women living in purdah. In key ways, she was also opposed to the Indian independence and women’s movements.

For more on Sorabji’s unusual story, see Mary Jane Mossman’s book chapter (pp.191-237) and article, “Gender and Professionalism in Law: The Challenge of (Women’s) Biography,” 27 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice (2009), as well as Suparna Gooptu’s biography.