Dr Gifty Edila

First Black director of law in a council in England and Wales

Call 1979, Inner Temple

Gifty Edila was born in 1955, Gold Coast Ghana and moved to the United Kingdom at only 11 years old. Ever since the age of 12 Gifty knew she wanted to make a difference, and strive towards a world of fairness and justice, ultimately leading her to pursue a career as a barrister.

Although, the Race Relations Act (1965) had been passed a decade before Gifty Edila went to university the representation of Black women within this profession at the time was still minimal, with only 10% of women working within this sector, and the proportion of Black women being even less than this. Defying all of these statistical odds Dr Edila obtained an LLB Law degree at the University of London. which later led to her achieving an LLM Master of Law degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She was called to the Bar at The Inner Temple in 1979.

She obtained pupillage at Coram Chambers and became an in- house barrister at the North Kensington Centre. Following her success in the British legislative system, Dr Gifty Edila was also successful in completing the Nigerian Bar. During this time, she was faced with the difficulty of juggling her family life and her career as a promising barrister. After this she returned to England and joined the Newham local government, where she rose through the ranks and became the first black person within the UK to head the legislative department in a local council.

In addition to this, Dr Edila also became the first ethnic minority Director of Law in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Her level of excellence in her career at this stage is enforced through the fact that within this position she influenced the creation of new law and the development of various educational facilities. Even after retiring in 2016, Dr Edila continued to excel through being the first Black woman in the UK to write a book about her career. Her book Defying Expectations explores the challenges she faced in depth and how much harder she had to work, in order to excel in her chosen career path. Therefore, meeting its aim to inspire those within the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community to pursue their dreams, no matter how difficult it may be.

Sophia Sibson