Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption has provoked outrage in the media by denouncing positive discrimination for female candidates for the judiciary.

Back in 2012 Sumption kicked off a lecture with the words "in modern Britain, the fastest way to make enemies is to deliver a public lecture about judicial diversity". And he's now proved his own theory in an interview with the Evening Standard. In the interview, Sumption laid the blame for gender imbalance in the judiciary squarely on the difficulty of balancing the punishing workload of a successful QC with a normal family life. He believes the result is fewer women at the top of the bar (and at City law firms) and so a smaller pool from which to fish for female judicial talent. And while Sumption reckons the problem will take 50 years to resolve, he doesn't believe positive discrimination in the meantime is the answer.

In the uproar that followed, no one disagreed more stridently than Charlotte Proudman, the barrister who recently shamed a City partner for saying that he liked her photo, and who now seems to be building a media career out of the incident. She said in the Guardian that Sumption typified the profession's institutionalised sexism, and that his comments "encapsulate his deepest fears that power vested in the old boys’ network could come under siege". She also lamented the fact that no one had accused him of "hating women" - but failed to point out that he looks just like Rowley Birkin QC.

 Rowley Sumption
Jonathan Birkin
  You never see them in the same room

For such a clever chap Sumption seems unwise to have urged women to be "patient", a patronising pat on the head that could have been designed to infuriate all women at the bar. And Proudman seems keen to make the most of her new media profile after various solicitors said they'd no longer instruct her.

This one looks set to run and run.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 25 September 15 12:13

Having read the Sumption interview I can find nothing in it that jars with my perspective of diversity in the legal profession. I don't even think he is guilty of lacking sensitivity.

In all, a typical reaction against any view that runs contrary to the modern creed of feminism.

Anonymous 25 September 15 13:02

Could you please investigate and let us know who the "various solicitors" are who said they'd no longer instruct her? Linked article mentions one name but indicates she has "received messages" from others.

Which Guardian subbie let this one through:
"...Proudman, who specialises in violence against women and girls..." Really?

Interested to know who in that specific sub-sector has informed her that they will not be instructing her.

Q for instructing solictors: If you dislike her personally but she is potentially your client's strongest/very strong advocate or a specialist in the niche legal area, does this present a moral dilemma? What's the most important criteria for instructing?

Anonymous 25 September 15 13:35

In answer to anonymous @ 12:02...

Someone who is likeable and easy to get along with. The law bit then falls into place

Anonymous 25 September 15 13:49

Proudman just after any form of publicity. Next stop celebrity Big Brother.

Makes you Proud...

Anonymous 25 September 15 14:49

According to the Telegraph this person's previous name was Bailye and her aunt says that her reaction is OTT but she sent a vindictive letter to her grandma saying she had wasted her life. Nice!

Anonymous 26 September 15 13:23

@ 12.02 - someone who you in whom you can have an element of confidence they will not make private communications public for personal gain.

It doesn't matter how good she may be if you cannot rely on her to keep confidential discussions confidential no matter what her personal views are on what is being discussed.

Anonymous 29 September 15 13:07

Can I just confirm that we've all worked out that Anon 12:02 is Proudman?

And a comment for you CP: we all agree with equality, but what you are doing is lacking any form of perspective. You're trying to find sexism or mysogyny in things that barely qualify just so you can get on your soapbox. Jeepers - pick the right battle! If you use such poor examples to make a stand on, you only serve to undermine the cause your trying to fight for by providing fuel for those arguing that feminism has turned society in a PC nanny state. I would've thougth that a barrister could identify such a basic strategic downside.You've single-handedly set back the feminist cause.

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