A piece in today’s Times. Usual strategy – unattributed anecdotes suggesting a major problem exists, when it probably doesn’t. Perfectly viable explanations for why women are leaving the legal profession are contained in the article.
The “bullying” is probably the reasonable impatience of judges with Special Snowflakes unable to cope with the demands of the court system. It isn’t even sexism – judges would surely be impatient with men who acted the same way. Demands are made for workplaces to adapt to suit women, never vice versa. Emphases ours:
Female barristers are quitting legal practice in droves because of a failure to stop bullying by judges, senior lawyers have claimed.
In a plea to senior judicial figures and the government, the head of the criminal Bar highlighted incidents in which male judges belittled junior women advocates in court. [J4MB: Belittling junior male advocates remains perfectly acceptable.]
One anonymous woman barrister told the Criminal Bar Association: “I don’t think I have ever been shouted at like I was by that judge … completely unacceptable. He acted like a toddler.”
That lawyer said that she would now leave the Bar, and that her decision was motivated by the bullying she had experienced as a junior criminal advocate.
Another young female barrister told the association that she was “so sick of … being treated as totally worthless” by judges.
Even senior-junior female barristers complained that they were routinely treated with disrespect by male judges.
Mothers with young children are particularly suffering stress at the hands of the judiciary, according to Chris Henley, QC, the association’s chairman. It is argued that many male judges are unsympathetic to family pressures [J4MB: Quite rightly] and insist on court timetables that are incompatible with childcare. [J4MB: How can court timetables be compatible with childcare? Absurd.]
Mr Henley reported that he had been contacted by a barrister who was the “mother of very young children who has worked herself so hard into the ground, that when she finally took a day off and sought help, her GP immediately called for an ambulance”. [J4MB: This will sound crazy, but bear with me. Maybe being the mother of very young children is incompatible with the work she’s undertaken? And maybe she shouldn’t do the work until the incompatibility disappears?]
The barrister said that she attended a court hearing despite feeling unwell with flu because the case had reached a crucial juncture and she feared the judge would not grant an adjournment.
“In no other job would I have worked. The hearing got done effectively. Therefore me not calling in sick — which I should have — saved a huge cost of court time, and money in rearranging a hearing,” she said.
The barrister felt obliged to attend other cases over the next few days until “I finally went out of hours to the GP. She immediately called me an ambulance to hospital looking me in the eye telling me I’d left it far too long and was now quite acutely ill, with a severe chest infection which had caused my usually mild asthma to flare up so I could not breathe”.
The barrister is recuperating but she told the Criminal Bar Association that she would not work for the next week. “I’ll lose money. No one will pay me sick pay. And all those hearings that I did when frankly I shouldn’t have been working have been covered and not rearranged thus saving the Ministry of Justice money.”
Mr Henley said that he had “spoken to heads of crime teams at chambers all over the country … Talented women are leaving criminal practice. The pattern is the same everywhere. There is a crisis.”
He added in his weekly message to association members that “even the most successful junior women increasingly have had enough. They can get easier, better paid jobs elsewhere, where they will be supported, be treated with respect and where the conditions are flexible and compatible with family life”. [J4MB: THIS is why these women are quitting.]
The QC criticised ministers and the legal establishment for engaging in “too much talk about diversity but nothing discernible is yet happening. It is patently not being taken sufficiently seriously.”
Many junior criminal law barristers were “suffering, physically, mentally and financially”, he said, adding: “Behind the scenes at a senior level there are conversations about email protocols, sitting hours protocols, about a determination to have zero tolerance for sexist and bullying behaviour. This stuff is not complicated, so let’s get on with it.”
Pressure from the association comes after a survey conducted by The Times and the Bar Council, which represents the profession in England and Wales, found that judges are one of the main sources of bullying in the legal profession.
One respondent said: “Look at how appalling some judges are to advocates, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that advocates replicate this behaviour to each other. While so few judicial bullying complaints are upheld, the problem will never be addressed.”
Other responses included: “The stench of testosterone is overwhelming at the criminal Bar and that odour is getting stronger given the lack of diversity. [J4MB: Misandry right there. What if a man wrote of the “stench of oestrogen” in workplaces dominated by women, of which there are now many?] Only better funding will attract a bigger pool of talent and help retain the few women.”
You can subscribe to The Times here.
If everyone who read this gave us £10.00 – or even better, £10.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. Click here to make a difference. Thanks.