Sexual harassment among lawyers in the spotlight
Sexual harassment, like that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of, transcends Hollywood and impacts the legal profession too, according to George Clooney. The Oscar-winning actor has revealed his wife, Doughty Street barrister Amal Clooney, is a victim.
Speaking to ET, in a video interview embedded below, Clooney said on the Weinstein scandal:
“This isn’t just showbusiness… It’s everywhere. My wife, who is a human rights lawyer, says she’s faced those exact kinds of situations in law, so it’s everywhere and it needs to be addressed as if it’s a problem for all of us.”
The sexual exploitation and harassment of workers in all industries has been thrust into the spotlight in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, law included.
Solicitor and consultant Caroline Newman kindly and bravely shared her experience of being propositioned by a senior partner when she was an aspiring solicitor in the late 1990s with Legal Cheek.
“He made it very clear to me that he would take me on as a paralegal,” Newman recalled. “Then he stroked my arm and said that if I worked hard and did well that he may offer me a training contract. He stared into my eyes and made it absolutely clear that ‘doing well’ included having sex with him. I looked away embarrassed. I felt violated and dirty.”
Newman has issued a rallying call to the legal profession to name and shame the perpetrators of this harassment. Actor and producer Clooney too hopes there is a glimmer of light at the end of this Weinstein-shaped tunnel. He said:
“We have to make sure that now there has to be something good that’s gonna come out of all of this. And the thing that’s good that could come out of this is that women feel safer in talking about these situations, and in doing so, that it makes it much harder for men who would behave like this to do it, [knowing] that they’ll get outed.”
Human rights specialist and mum-of-two Amal Clooney is a barrister of seven years’ call, having worked as a lawyer in the United States for three years before that. This week, her chambers mate, Helena Kennedy QC, backed Clooney for peerage.
Kennedy, who sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, said: “Amal would be a great baroness… She’s an incredibly bright woman. The only justification for being appointed to the second chamber is if you can bring to it special expertise, and that can be of all different kinds. And Amal certainly has expertise.”
Now may not quite be Clooney’s time for a move into the upper house, Kennedy concedes, as she’s busy with her twin babies. But, she told Mail Online: “In time, she would be great.”