Presentation address by Dr Julie Wallbank

Vice-Chancellor,

To say that family law is one of the most challenging areas of legal practice is not to overstate matters. As inter-connected webs of family life and kinship are rendered increasingly diverse and complex by social, technological, political and international developments, this area affects us all. Anne-Marie Hutchinson, a Leeds graduate, knows what it is to tackle these challenges. She is one of the leading matrimonial lawyers of our time.

A partner at the family law firm Dawson Cornwell, Anne-Marie specialises in domestic and international family law and the international movement of children. Anne-Marie has helped to protect more than 150 forced marriage victims in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and supported women in the Middle East escaping from abusive partners.

In 1999 she was awarded the inaugural UNICEF Child Rights Lawyer award and an OBE for services to international child abduction and adoption. She is Chair of Trustees of Reunite International, the leading UK charity specialising in the movement of children across international borders.

Integrity and professionalism – two of our University’s values – are integral in Anne-Marie’s work, as is her ability to grapple with issues of technical and moral complexity. Anne-Marie is also a specialist in surrogacy arrangements and co-parenting agreements. Her advice is sought in complex domestic and international adoption applications and legal issues arising from the creation and implementation of surrogacy arrangements under The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

That Anne-Marie has chosen to specialise in one of the most difficult areas of law says much about her. She has unsurpassed expertise in her field, genuine empathy with those she supports and the intellect, ability and determination to solve seemingly intractable problems.

Anne-Marie graduated from Leeds with a BA in International History and Politics in 1980 and has been a great ambassador for the University. The legal profession has long recognised her special talents: she is consistently named as one of the leading family lawyers in London in both Chambers and The Legal 500, and regularly lectures in the UK and abroad. In 2013 she was listed in the top 100 UK Super Lawyers and the following year she was awarded the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL) President’s Medal.

Vice-Chancellor, her work has helped to transform the future of hundreds of vulnerable people whose lives spin beyond their control;  I am delighted to present to you for the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Anne-Marie Hutchinson.