Barrister interlaces shocking new allegations with fascinating insights into the woman behind the headlines
Campaigning barrister Charlotte Proudman is back — this time targeting the judiciary with a barrage of accusations, while simultaneously opening up to her growing army of fans to show a previously unseen sensitive side.
In a multi-pronged attack against out-of-touch senior members of the legal profession, the Mansfield Chambers rookie, 27, has made public a complaint about a judge who apparently uses his role as a mentor of law graduates as a way to recruit young mistresses. The unnamed judge’s behaviour is, according to Proudman, symptomatic of a culture of “transactional sex for pupillages” at the bar.
Almost simultaneously — via a wide-ranging interview with The Times over the weekend — Proudman has rounded on three other judges, slamming them as “representatives of the old boys’ club”.
The trio are Supreme Court duo Lord Sumption and Lord Neuberger, and High Court Queen’s Bench Division chief Sir Brian Leveson, who have angered the young family lawyer by opposing her campaign to bring in gender quotas for senior legal profession roles. Proudman thinks the men are representative of “a system infused by sexism”.
Catering to her exploding social media follower base, the young barrister also shared a host of personal insights — most notably about the effect of the media attention she has received since that explosive September 7 tweet. Referring to herself in the third person, the barrister hinted that she regretted how things had worked out, commenting:
It’s been a complete nightmare. No one wants this kind of scrutiny. No one. I would rather be Charlotte Proudman, prior to September 7, than Charlotte Proudman after that date.
This latest blast of publicity came out of the blue, with Proudman, who is currently getting some winter sun in Haiti, having gone quiet of late having seemingly settled down to focus on her work during an academic secondment she is currently doing at Harvard.
— Charlotte Proudman (@CRProudman) November 7, 2015
But it’s now clear that she has been working hard behind the scenes to continue to leverage her growing fame and cement her position as a key spokesperson for feminist millennials.
The fruits of Proudman’s labour appeared on Saturday when the family law specialist — who shot to fame in September after tweeting a screenshot of a lawyer’s LinkedIn message that she felt was sexist — burst back into the public consciousness with a no holds barred interviewed with The Times‘ Saturday magazine.
— The Times of London (@thetimes) November 7, 2015
The piece included a story told by Proudman about a law student who contacted her last week for advice about dealing with a judge who she had sought out as a potential mentor only for him to try to get her to become his mistress. Proudman reported:
The judge wanted her to be his mistress. She wanted a mentor to guide her through being a law graduate and becoming a lawyer, and that was what she faced instead. There are women who are vulnerable to this kind of pressure. It is a coercive pressure that is put upon them by men in positions of power.
In what could be interpreted as a new strategy to get under the judiciary’s skin Proudman then launched individual attacks against Leveson, Neuberger and old foe Sumption, who she has lampooned previously in the Guardian.
These members of a “narrow, socially unrepresentative elite” — who have all come out publicly against gender quotas recently — are more concerned with shoring up the male patriarchy than creating a judiciary that is able to “meaningfully reflect the public”, suggested Proudman.
Elsewhere in the interview, Proudman shared with her followers a host of highly personal insights into her journey to becoming a lawyer.
These included the revelation that her northern accent left her feeling “unwelcome from the get-go” in a profession where “[a]nywhere past Watford Junction is apparently northern”.
Proudman also told the story of how she changed her surname from Bailye to Proudman when she embarked on her legal studies as a moving tribute to her suffragette grandmother.
Meanwhile, the family law junior repeated two allegations that she has made previously in TV interviews about a solicitor asking her for a bikini photo in exchange for work experience, and a barrister inappropriately rubbing her leg during a mini-pupillage. These incidents were part of a sex-for-pupillages atmosphere in law, Proudman added, but once again declined to name names.
But it was the barrister’s frank admission that she would rather be the person she was before that fateful tweet on 7 September that will surely have Proudman-watchers talking the most.