Legal, academic ‘pioneer’ dies

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Norway’s academic and legal professionals were among those mourning the death this week of Lucy Smith, who could claim many “firsts” in Norway for the degrees and high-ranking positions she held. Smith died after a lengthy illness on Tuesday, age 78.

Lucy Smith, widely viewed as a pioneer for women in legal and academic circles, died Tuesday at age 78. PHOTO: University of  Oslo Law Faculty

Lucy Smith, widely viewed as a pioneer for women in legal and academic circles, died Tuesday at age 78. PHOTO: University of Oslo Law Faculty

When she started to study law in the 1950s, she was the only woman in her class. Smith later became the first woman in Norway to obtain a doctorate in the law. She then went on to become Norway’s first female law professor, in 1987, and six years later she was named as the first woman to take over as dean of the University of Oslo. Smith was also among the first women to assume seats on the boards of directors of some of Norway’s biggest companies.

“For the most part, I was welcomed,” she recalled in an interview with newspaper Vårt Land in March. “But I’ve also encountered skepticism. Especially in the first years when I took positions on the boards of major firms in the business world. As the only woman in such circles, I could be subjected to so-called power plays.”

Smith also became well-known in Norway as a TV celebrity of sorts, after she took on the role of judge in a popular TV quiz show on state broadcaster NRK called Kvitt eller dobbelt, where participants tested their knowledge of a certain subject.

Others knew her as an avid cyclist who loved being out on tour. She cycled the tough, nearly 600-kilometer route between Trondheim and Oslo twice, reported news bureau NTB.

She married fellow lawyer Carsten Smith in 1958. He went on to be a Supreme Court judge and all three of their daughters became lawyers as well. Lucy Smith established a specific study of legal issues affecting women (kvinnerett) in the beginning of the 1970s.

She received many awards and honours over the years and was decorated by King Harald with Norway’s prestigious St Olavs Order.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund