Female Trial Attorneys in U.K. Notch a Win for Equality

From Bloomberg Law authored b

“London’s female trial lawyers have scored a small but symbolic victory: access to the men’s locker room.

The new unisex space at Southwark Crown Court, one of London’s most famous courthouses and the stage for prosecutions in Libor, came after female barristers complained about being left out of conversations on their cases with male peers. While the change may seem minor, it comes just as the U.K. appointed a female Supreme Court president, a first in a field dominated at the top by men.

The British judiciary and trial lawyers have long struggled with gender balance. The number of women becoming trial attorneys, known as barristers, was slightly higher than men in 2016, yet only 14 percent of the best-paid tier, known as Queen’s Counsel, is female, according to a December report from the U.K. Bar Standards Board.

“Gender should play no part in the role or status of a barrister,” Judge Deborah Taylor, the judge who made the room change in Southwark, said in an emailed statement. Some women said exclusion from the locker room meant “agreements were made before they were consulted.”

Barristers use the rooms to put their black gowns over their clothes and don white wigs, which are usually made of horsehair. The costume is required in most courts and dates to medieval times.”

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