Women Who Inspire Us: Ann Olivarius

Ann Olivarius

As part of our ‘Women Who Inspire Us’ series, I am kicking off with a kick-ass woman: Ann Olivarius.

Though she sounds like a character from Harry Potter, Ms. Olivarius is senior partner at McAllister Olivarius law firm and has a career as inspiring as they come.

Born in 1955, Olivarius attended Yale College, graduating summa cum laude (‘with highest honour’ for those of us who failed Latin) and won the Rhodes Scholarship in only the second year that it had been open to women. With this scholarship she studied at Oxford University, before returning to Yale Law School.

During this second round with Yale she became the first person to finish a joint JD-MBA programme. This course usually takes five years: she did it in three.

In 1977, Olivarius was asked to chair a Report on the Status of Women at Yale, a report which highlighted problems for many of Yale’s female students: from sexual advances from professors to rape. After Yale refused to act on this report, Olivarius brought a suit against the college, which became known as Alexander v. Yale. It was alleged that Yale had failed to adequately deal with sexual harassment complaints and subsequently discriminated against women. The case was dismissed for other reasons but paved the way for women to seek recourse for their harassment in higher education.

Since then she has created AO Advocates, a trans-Atlantic legal practice focusing on child protection work. This practice has brought over 30 major cases of child sexual abuse to justice, fighting for the rights of children in the UK, Ireland and the USA.

Most recently, she has been involved in the fight against the horrific crime of revenge porn.

In a landmark case, Chrissy Chambers sought to seek justice after an ex-boyfriend posted sexual videos that Chambers did not know had been filmed. Since the ex was based in the UK, Olivarius championed the search for justice and helped bring into law the criminalisation of revenge porn in England and Wales. Olivarius is still actively fighting against revenge porn.

Over a dazzling near-30 year career, Olivarius has fought for the most vulnerable in society, seeking justice for those unable to afford it. She’s a brave woman with an unrivalled intelligence and this is why she inspires me.

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