In September 2015, Brigadier Susan Ridge, a former high street solicitor (Raynor, 2016), became the first Servicewoman to achieve the rank of Major General (OF-7) in the British Army. Susan joined the British Army in 1992.
As a Brigadier, Susan worked as the Director Legal Advisory, providing advice to the chain of command on disciplinary matters through to dealing with military complaints and enquiries.
In her rank of Major General, Susan’s role is Director General Army Legal Services (ALS) which has a wider remit looking across the whole Service and providing legal support in barracks, on training and on operations.
She commands a team of more than 130 qualified solicitor and barrister army officers deployed in the UK or overseas conflict zones.
“Is being a military lawyer broadly similar to being a civilian lawyer? ‘There are oddities,’ Ridge replies. ‘For instance, military personnel, including ALS lawyers, are not on employment contracts. Technically, we are all employed at the will of the Queen. And all of us are subject to military law, are trained to be combatants and must be ready to deploy to wherever the army sends us.’” (Raynor, 2016).
About 40% of ALS personnel are women (compared to 8.9% for the army as a whole). Another high-flier, Brigadier Juliet Bartlett, is director of operational law in the ALS – one rank immediately below Ridge.
Raynor, J. (2016) Interview: Susan Ridge. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/people/interview-susan-ridge/5054609.article. [Accessed: 20 March, 2018].