Lady Hale served as the president of the Supreme Court from 2017 to 2020. She came to prominence in September 2019 at the height of the Brexit debate when she declared prime minister Boris Johnson's prorogation of parliament unlawful.
She spent much of her life in academia, working part-time as a barrister. She specialised in family law and oversaw a number of important reforms during her time with the Law Commission in the 1980s.
She was appointed a QC in 1989, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBC) in 1994 and a member of the Privy Council in 1999. In 2004 she became a life peer and sits in the House of Lords as a non-party affiliated Crossbencher.
A webinar also included a contribution from Imran Khan QC, an alumnus of the school and chiefly known as the lawyer for the family of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen was a Black British teenager killed in a racially motivated attack in 1993. His family's long quest for justice led to a major public inquiry in 1999 that labelled the Metropolitan Police "institutionally racist". Some 70 of its recommendations for reform were enacted.
The event was opened by Professor John Strawson, honorary professor of law, who reflected on the activist roots of the law department and his role in its launch and evolution.
Professor Mohammad Ali, dean of the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, said, "We're proud to have one of the most recognisable figures in the UK legal system to help us celebrate 45 years of the School of Law.
"As part of Vision 2028, our 10-year transformation strategy, the University of East London is aiming to increase the social and cultural impact of its work. Lady Hale's virtual visit is an important milestone on that journey."