Women are rarely welcomed into judges’ chambers for cosy post-case chats, says Deborah Matthews, continuing her tales of legal life
Sitting in my office, reeling at my weakness for having agreed to a drink with predatory middle-aged lawyer, I realise I have work to do. So I run haphazardly in my stilettos and pencil skirt to the local county court in order to deal with a ‘protection from harassment’ hearing (how very apt)!
Waiting outside the district judge’s room, I sit quietly and survey the scene. Alpha male barristers are strutting around, briefs in hand, while their young, female clerks run around after them in mild panic that they are missing one of the orders being thrown at them.
One sight, in particular, makes me laugh: the young male solicitor, standing upright, brand new garish tie and pinstripe suit (worn to fit in!), doing his best to look down at everyone.
But all the jostling for position rapidly evaporates, the tough guy expressions giving way to looks reminiscent of stalked baby deer, as the lawyers are called in to see the king of the legal jungle, the judge.
I’m next to be called in. Opposite me in the court room is the local swaggering legal eagle, partner of a local firm, slightly overweight, slightly shiny-faced and overtly flirtatious in his behaviour towards the female lawyer.
Wondering why he insists on talking to my chest rather than my face, I’m pleased to get the hearing over with and leave the claustrophobic confines of the poky court room. Typically, shiny face loiters, desperate to get some time on his own to ingratiate himself with the judge. Opening the door for me as I make my exit, he practically pushes me out and shuts the door.
“Oh judge, are you going to the cricket…” I overhear him ask, mock-casually, as I stand alone in the corridor, looking at the closed door and listening to the muffled jovial laughter erupting from behind it. I realise the old boys club is open for business. Then I remember, again, that drink I agreed to have with predatory middle-aged lawyer.