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Discrimination by women of women

(58 Posts)
babybarrister Sat 26-Mar-16 18:10:52

Sadly once again a woman indicating that she wants a male lawyer. This time online but it happens regularly and ironically my personal experience has been that it has only been women clients doing this [which FWIW is totally illegal]

Trills Sat 26-Mar-16 20:06:22

Are you a lawyer?

What kind of case is it?

Pointless speculation - is the woman getting a divorce or similar and thinks that her ex does not take women seriously, and so thinks that a male lawyer is the only way to get things done?

babybarrister Sun 27-Mar-16 12:31:02

yes I am a lawyer. I find your comments bizarre. This is not about me touting for work. This is about the fact that even women do not seem to value other women as professionals

Trills Sun 27-Mar-16 12:44:18

Are you reading the same thread as me?

Who has accused you of touting for work?

I was trying to imagine a situation in which a woman might choose a male lawyer, since you gave no information on the situation that you were describing.

babybarrister Sun 27-Mar-16 12:54:28

that is discrimination - end of - no-one is allowed to choose on the basis of gender!

babybarrister Sun 27-Mar-16 12:55:15

yes it is in relation to divorce but that is irrelevant

TonySopranosVest Sun 27-Mar-16 12:58:36

Its illegal to choose your own lawyer?

daisychain01 Sun 27-Mar-16 13:19:54

I thought it would be illegal to advertise for a lawyer "only male lawyers need apply " but where is it written in law that you can't request a male, or female for that matter, to represent you, if you're stumping up the money?

Its like asking for a female Doctor, sometimes it is context based as trills quite rightly mentions.

bigolenerdy Sun 27-Mar-16 13:22:40

It isn't illegal to discriminate based on sex when choosing who provides you with a service. This would be practically impossible to police. How would you really punish the offender?

It's illegal the other way around - i.e. to discriminate in that way in 'providing' the service youself (e.g. no blacks/no irish etc.). It would also be unlawful for an firm/chambers to accede to the client's for a male lawyer, if that means discriminating against female lawyers within the firm/chambers.

Trills Sun 27-Mar-16 13:43:50

I'm not disputing whether it's legal or not - I'm trying to figure out what would lead a woman to think this way.

Does the woman simply think that women are less good at lawyering (some women do think this way), or is there something else to it?

I don't really understand why you started a thread if you don't want to discuss, if all you want us to do is say "yes that is discrimination".

FreshwaterSelkie Sun 27-Mar-16 13:48:33

Odd thread.

Maybe if you explained a bit more, babybarrister, people could engage with you in ways you don't find bizarre?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 27-Mar-16 15:58:43

I'm a female lawyer, although not in family law.
I've never come across a client who has said they did not want a particular lawyer because of their sex. However I agree it is neither discrimination nor illegal for a client to specify they wanted one sex. Indeed, in family law I can easily understand a woman might prefer to discuss matters relating to abuse with another woman.

Equally, no lawyer or firm has to accept any client. A potential client may tick any number of protected categories and still be a pain in the arse who won't pay my fees. (I have had the threat of being called racist thrown at me by someone we refused to act for due to their total inability to produce documents which met the ID/money laundering requirements and, to use a technical term, was almost certainly dodgy)

So far as the firm and the individual lawyer , a firm would need to consider whether or not to accede to such a request. There may be a sustainable reason- ranging from sensitive issues to someone who just gets on better with one sex. If the employee is regularly missing out on good quality work because of such requests, that is discriminatory.

cadnowyllt Sun 27-Mar-16 16:54:30

Equally, no lawyer or firm has to accept any client.

That's true of Solicitors, but I'm unsure as to Barristers - what's this cab-rank rule they have ?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 27-Mar-16 17:05:49

I can't speak for the English Bar but I believe in practice it's quite easy to get round and would only really apply to junior counsel. I can't imagine for 1 minute a senior will take any criminal case that comes his way.

I have no experience of it since , when I instruct Counsel it's on the basis of picking the Counsel I want (in practice I have one favourite) and on the basis he will take the work if he is free or not conflicted.

cadnowyllt Sun 27-Mar-16 17:13:58

when I instruct Counsel it's on the basis of picking the Counsel I want

Same with me - If I'm offered one I don't like, I'll 'shop' around - is the cab rank only criminal work then ? I did work in Family law (before LAPSO) but didn't favour one sex over the other - nor do I recall a client ever asking for one over the other. I presume the OP is talking about their direct access scheme.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 27-Mar-16 18:03:46

I'm not sure what OP is referring to and she hasn't been back.

I assumed cab rank only applied to criminal cases or possibly legal aid (in the interests of disclosure have done no criminal work and filled in one legal aid application in over 30 years of practice)

The Scottish Bar's direct access is actually pretty restricted- certainly does not allow ordinary Joe or Jane Public to have access.

babybarrister Mon 28-Mar-16 08:05:57

It is absolutely incorrect to say that it is legal for a client to choose a lawyer based on gender, race etc - there is NO exemption from the equalities legislation - and nor should there be - where would it end? Would it be OK for someone to say I only want a white lawyer to represent me? !

So, if a client says I would like Ms X, that is fine, but if a client rings up the clerks and says I want a woman/man/white person etc the clerks may NOT accede to that request. Equally if the client rings up a solicitors firm and says I would like a white person/non disabled person etc the firm is not allowed to provide a service based on that discriminatory request.

I posted the thread not to discuss the law - as I know what it is! - I posted it to discuss just how sad it is to discover that in relation to gender discrimination, my personal experience is that it is women saying that they do not want women representing them. Personally, I have never experienced this type of discrimination from a man, which I have to say I do find ironic

babybarrister Mon 28-Mar-16 08:11:26

The experiences I have had involved female solicitors stating that their female clients either did not want a woman or that their female clients did not want a pregnant woman .....

The example I have identified on MN did involve someone looking for a Direct Access barrister but the principle is the same as solicitors in England and Wales are not allowed to instruct barristers on a discriminatory basis and should know this!

MatildaBeetham Mon 28-Mar-16 10:14:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

babybarrister Mon 28-Mar-16 11:26:53

Thank you!

almondpudding Mon 28-Mar-16 12:19:41

Then the law needs to be changed.

My DD was offered the choice of a male or female counsellor by the NHS due to it being a personal situation. The same should apply to solicitors, as clients often have to discuss very distressing personal information.

babybarrister Mon 28-Mar-16 18:37:24

Not sure I agree but even if that were to be the case, presumably if the equalities legislation did not apply then most women in divorce cases would choose women which is the opposite to my direct experience ....

SenecaFalls Mon 28-Mar-16 19:37:19

It happened to me one time years ago (I'm in the US). It was a landlord tenant case so nothing to do with family law or any issues regarding abuse. The client was a woman. The senior partner stood by me, and I did end up representing her. Successfully, I might add. smile

babybarrister Mon 28-Mar-16 20:00:57

Good for you! Is it also your experience that it is actually women who are the worst offenders ?

SenecaFalls Mon 28-Mar-16 20:23:01

It only happened to me one time, and it was 25 years ago when there were far fewer women lawyers.

There are some family law firms in the US that advertise that they specialize in representing men. I don't know whether any of them employ women attorneys, but my guess is that they do.

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