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Jo Delahunty QC ‐ Women Lawyers: Equals at the Bar?

12 October 2017

Parklane Plowden’s door tenant, Jo Delahunty QC delivered a lecture to an audience at Gresham College last week on ‘Women Lawyers: Equals at the Bar?’. Her talk attracted widespread attention from both the legal and national press, as well as across social media.

In her lecture, Jo Delahunty QC – who was appointed Gresham Professor of Law in 2016 - examined why there are so few female Silks (white/BAME), and why the senior judiciary is predominantly white and male. What emerged from her research was the huge loss of talent when women disappear from the Bar at 10+ years Call and the impact that this exodus has on Silk and Judicial diversity. It has long been recognised that women leave the Bar at this pinch-point through reasons of child-care responsibilities, choice and/or loss of income from legal aid.

Jo identified that the split of male and females on first being Called to the Bar is 50:50; however it was nowhere near that proportion with BAME barristers. The significant issue now in relation to access to the Bar is that of social mobility and BAME, rather than gender inequality alone.

The lecture attracted a full hall, consisting of the type of audience Gresham has been seeking to attract (young and BAME) all with a genuine interest in the law. Jo stated that the Bar must ensure it has a more diverse representation from all gender and minority groups if it is to remain credible and respected by the society it serves.

The lecture has been covered by Legal Cheek and the full transcript can be found here.

As a result of the response that her lecture has received, it’s understood that Baroness Deech has forwarded the transcript to Baroness Hale and Baroness Kennedy. The lecture is also going to be covered by The Guardian, TLS, The Barrister and Jordans.

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