Now it’s Proudman versus Sumption: LinkedIn row barrister slams Supreme Court judge

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By Alex Aldridge on

27-year old is seizing new role is unofficial spokesperson for nation’s female lawyers


The rookie barrister who rose to fame this month for tweeting a screenshot of a “sexist” LinkedIn message has waded into the Lord Sumption women judges row.

Charlotte Proudman, 27, of Mansfield Chambers says Supreme Court judge Sumption’s claim that rushing through more women judges “could have appalling consequences for justice” encapsulates everything that is wrong with gender dynamics in law.

Writing this morning in The Guardian, Proudman goes beyond calling out the 66 year-old for his deeply conservative plea for the judiciary to continue muddling along with hardly any senior women — and hits Sumption where it hurts.

First, she does some psychoanalysis — exploring the former Brick Court man’s “deepest fears”. Proudman writes:

Let me be clear: Sumption’s concern is not about finding ‘good enough’ women candidates to be QCs and occupy top judicial posts. His comments encapsulate his deepest fears that power vested in the old boys’ network could come under siege.

Next, the family law junior, who completed bar school in 2010, questions Sumptions credentials. Points out Proudman:

It must be pure luck that after securing pupillage (barrister traineeship) through his father, Sumption just happened to be the best candidate for the supreme court.

And finally, she indirectly slams his privilege, while showing admirable restraint in declining to mention that Sumption went to Eton and Oxford. Proudman explains:

Despite Sumption’s claim that the bar is ‘meritocratic’, men who are white, upper and middle class, and heterosexual have always enjoyed a privileged status in the profession — and continue to do so.

There is also an interesting paragraph where Proudman compares the mainstream media’s reaction to Sumption’s comments (barely a shrug, although Twitter went wild), to her LinkedIn message row (global newspaper and TV hysteria). She writes:

While a few lawyers have not held back in taking Sumption to task for his comments, it’s no surprise that he has not experienced a backlash for his comments. His face isn’t plastered across the tabloids, nor is he accused of hating women, and it is doubtful he has received death threats. The irony is that only when people challenge the status quo does a backlash ensue.

Elsewhere in the article Proudman argues in favour of the introduction of a quota system to boost the pathetically low number of women judges.

Reaction to Proudman’s article has so far been muted among the legal Twitterati, with no mention made of it — at the time of publication of this article — by top barrister Dinah Rose QC, who led the charge against Sumption’s comments earlier this week.