A female barrister who slammed a male barrister for a chauvinistic comment has prompted others to speak out about prejudice they've faced in the profession.
Amy Rollings, a personal injury barrister at Nine St John Street in Manchester, tweeted about a conversation she'd had with a male opponent barrister who was channeling Jim Davidson:
At the time of the exchange, Rollings had given a regrettably courteous reply to her male opponent:
But other barristers on Twitter were more forthright:
Rollings revealed in a later tweet that it wasn't the first time she's been subjected to sexist comments at the Bar.
"All the years of studying, training, reputation building and graft were just leading up to finding a husband to keep you so you could give it all up, right?" said one of her followers on Twitter. "Exactly," replied Rollings, "I've just been killing time all these years until I found a husband!"
Rollings' tweet triggered a plethora of similar recollections about throwbacks at the Bar from female peers.
Some had faced snide comments about being a working mum. "When I first came back to the bar after mat leave," said Amy Beddis a barrister at 3PB Chambers, "I was chatting to a male oppo about my baby who was 6 months old and his response, in horror was - 'your baby is barely sitting up and you are back at work?'"
Eleanor Mawrey, a barrister at 9 Gough Square, said she encountered an old boy with this view:
Rachel Chan of 42 Bedford Row revealed, "I had one male barrister on hearing my husband is a stay at home dad, asked 'is he a good house husband?'. This is just as inappropriate if I'd asked whether his wife was a 'good housewife'."
Another lawyer said, "When I was pregnant a solicitor told me that they 'thought I was a career woman' and pointed at my stomach. I said I am a career woman". She added, "Why can't people just shut the f*ck up?"
Mary Aspinall-Miles at 12 CP Barrister, hit back at one misogynistic barrister almost causing him to void his bowels in shock. Small victories:
"Not that long ago I had an older Male oppo who got quite snarky and asked why I wasn't at home making a pie for my husband." said Nadia Tawfik of Pallant Chambers. A particularly baseless insult as, "I've never made a pie in my life".
A number of male barristers were quick to condemn the archaic views held by their peers:
"Well done, Amy, for calling out this type of behaviour" said Tom Russell of KCH Garden Square Barristers. "It has no place in modern life and I am ashamed whenever I read that our profession is associated with it". Gerard McDermott QC of Outer Temple Chambers said that there was "obviously a long, long way to go at The Bar".
However, there was a sweet ending to Rollings' story:
To which James M Turner QC of Quadrant Chambers said "gloating near-compulsory in this situation". Katherine Allen, a partner at Hugh James told Rollings that winning the case "was the best response ever". Sarah Clarke QC said "I thought when I got Silk that would be the end of male chauvinist opponents talking down to me. Sadly I was wrong", adding "only way to deal with them is to beat them in Court just as you did".
“The tweet (inadvertently) started an important conversation with many other professional women who have experienced similar sexist comments", Rollings told RollOnFriday. "It is a conversation I had hoped we had moved on from a long time ago. Sadly this was not the first time a comment had been made along these lines and unfortunately, I doubt it will be the last. By continuing the conversation, we can shine some light on the issue”.
In February this year, another female barrister also took to Twitter to come up with a nine point plan to combat sexism at the Bar.