Dame Frances Patterson started practice at the Bar in 1979. She specialised in planning, environmental, compulsory purchase and highways law. She was appointed Assistant Recorder in 1997, a QC in 1998 and Recorder in 2000. In 2004 she was elected Head of Chambers.
She was made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2005, and a Deputy High Court Judge in 2008. In 2010 she was appointed Public Law Commissioner at the Law Commission for England and Wales. In 2013 she was appointed to the High Court Bench.