Baroness Cohen read Law at Newnham College, Cambridge and qualified as a solicitor in 1965. She joined the Board of Trade in 1969 and left in 1982 to join a City merchant bank, where she stayed as a Director until 2001. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 2001. She has been a Governor of the BBC, and a Director of the London Stock Exchange from 2001 to 2013 and a Director of the Borsa Italiana from 2007 to 2014, as well being a non executive director of several other public companies. She has published 7 crime novels under her maiden name of Janet Neel, as well as two novels and an autobiography as Janet Cohen.
She became Chairman of the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 2006, expecting to move to Cambridge and is now its Honorary Patron. She moved finally to Cambridge in 2011 and took a keen interest in the Arthur Rank and helped to support the move to the new building. She is an honorary Fellow of the Lucy Cavendish College and of St Edmund’s College.