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‘Don’t act like you’re on a stag-do’ or ‘make repetitive jokes about breasts or skirts’, junior barrister tells male colleagues

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Joanna Hardy offers nine practical pointers to improving retention of women at the criminal bar

Joanna Hardy

A junior barrister has advised her male colleagues not to “act like you’re on a stag-do” or “make repetitive jokes about breasts or skirts” as part of a nine-point action plan to help improve the retention of women at the criminal bar.

Taking to Twitter, Joanna Hardy, a criminal barrister at London’s Red Lion Chambers, posted her nine practical steps to improving the working lives of female barristers. She wrote:

“We talk a lot about retention of women at the criminal bar. We wring our hands and shake our heads as females leave and leave and leave. But what can we actually do?”

Kicking things off, Hardy, who was called to the bar in 2010, suggested abolishing 9:30am court listings.

The same goes for warned lists.

Noting that some “female advocates can have a rough time of it”, her next piece of advice was simply “be kind to each other”.

The KCL law grad also called on chambers to look carefully at their policies for supporting female tenants.

Next up, “help each other”.

Continuing, Hardy urged her male counterparts to not “behave like you’re on a stag-do” nor “make repetitive jokes about breasts or skirts”.

The junior barrister’s list, which has since gone viral, continues:

Hardy’s nine practical pointers come just 24 hours after the head of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), Chris Henley QC, stressed that more needed to be done to help tackle the “increasingly hostile environment” facing women at the bar.

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99 Comments

Anonymous

Yeah, yeah, yeah we know. Male-bashing, so trendy and fashionable. Virtue signaling much.

Yawn, next.

(107)(76)

Anonymous

Wow… how ignorant and patronising are you 😂 We’re not f*ucking off anywhere mate, we’re here until we make the change we need for the sake of both genders. Your attitude is the reason why young men in this country have the most suicide death rates. The world is evolving, women couldn’t own a property before and rape in marriages were legal before 1991 (just to name couple of incredibly stupid barriers we were faced with) whether you join this fight or not, we’re going to make that change 🙌

(34)(97)

Anonymous

One thing for sure is that divisive tweets and comments won’t achieve the change you’re aiming for.

(25)(7)

Anonymous

Calm down, no need for swearing.

Now, firstly how dare you assume my gender, secondly good luck with your fight whatever that one is at the movement (I guess), and thirdly I don’t see how my attitude caused these suicides you mentioned – can I please have your source of that?

Thank you.

(12)(19)

Anonymous

What a tool

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Which of the previous commenters do you feel is a tool and why?

If Titanic happened in 2019...

Sailor: “Sorry Sir, Women and children first.”

Scaredy-bloke: “Did you just assume my gender?”

(21)(1)

If Titanic happened in 2019 (cont'd)...

Woman: I demand to stay in the name of gender equality!

(12)(2)

Anonymous

Wahh wahh the smart girl is calling out all my faults 🙁 Hahaha grow a pair or go back to living as a caveman, we don’t want crybabies like you

(2)(10)

Anonymous

Hic! Sounds a bit anti-male.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

100% with you. I can’t she had a single whinge of any significance. Shows the sort of over-sensitivity of those looking for something to gripe about. The profession that is actively pushing positive discrimination in favour of women as a per se good; that is the true disgrace. Why one earth was Parliamentary time wasted on her witterings?

(0)(0)

JDP

If the vast quantity of questionable banter in work is something that I have to sacrifice for the sake of women feeling respected in work, then that is a sacrifice that I am unwilling to make.

– Typed by my Secretary

(87)(12)

Anonymous

Why is Jones Day a meme?

(1)(6)

Anonymous

Er – it’s not. This is real. How embarrassing for you…

(11)(2)

Anonymous

Just sick of all of this constant whining. That article yesterday was typical – Arden LJ complaining about how she was held back by her sex when she comes from a long line of solicitors and privileged background.

I wonder if any of these feminists could, with a straight face, tell a working-class boy from
some ghastly town up north, that, notwithstanding their private education and supportive family, they’ve had it worse than him because once at a Christmas party or in a stressful case, someone made a joke about their breasts.

(93)(23)

Anonymous

I can… as a working class northern woman.

Also, it’s hilarious that you think northern towns are ghastly.

(12)(30)

Anonymous

It isn’t the northern towns as such, more so the grim people that reside within them.

(18)(3)

Steven Seagull

Hilarious but true.

(2)(2)

Andon

They often are. If you are living in some charming village in the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales then life is probably pretty peachy, but have you ever BEEN to Wigan, just picking a random and fairly typical northern town, for the sake of example?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Good luck with what I’m sure will be a sterling career in the law. Please do talk about male victimhood and virtue signalling and other such MRA/Alt Right nonsense at your next interview.

(1)(12)

Anonymous

I won’t. Neither will I talk about female victimhood or be aggressive to men.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

I’ve already got the TC, but thanks for the advice.

(4)(7)

Anonymous

No problem. Hopefully it will be useful to you on your journey towards becoming a qualified lawyer.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

It won’t. Get over yourself.

Anonymous

It will, you just don’t realise it yet. I’m not under myself.

Anonymous

I would presume that he, like a lot of people, can manage to keep mum about his actual beliefs at work and in interviews.

Perhaps you should do the same.

(p.s. seems something of a stretch to call him alt-right, lol.)

(7)(0)

Anonymous

You understand that women can be from the “ghastly town up north”* as well, right? The battle isn’t between rich women and poor men.

PS. Have you been up North recently? Leeds, Manchester, York, Newcastle are pretty great.

(7)(5)

Anonymous

Its not a battle between women and men full stop. Strange that some people try to turn it into one.

(0)(0)

Barrister

You mean men?

(1)(35)

Anonymous

And women who try and turn it into one, yes, of course. You don’t have to be a barrister to realise that.

Andon

The cities are not too bad but the post-industrial hinterlands such as Runcorn and Stoke are dreadful places

(0)(0)

Anonymous

So sick of all these males whining… poor little babies. Is somebody coming to take away your manhood just because the girls want equal treatment? Is it all too scary? Do you want it back the way it used to be 😂

(8)(12)

Anonymous

Hic! Sounds a bit anti-male.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Would you believe it was posted by a male who’s fed up of the ignorance of other males?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

No. But is sounds a bit anti-male regardless.

Anonymous

The criminal bar for you

(12)(3)

Anonymous

So when she says “repetitive” (advice number 6), is she saying that a colleague is permitted to make a joke about breasts:
(a) one (1) time;
(b) two (2) times;
(c) two (2) or more times, but less than five (5)?

I would like some clarification before I drop some jokes during next week’s team meeting.

(36)(7)

Steven Seagull

Benny Hill would have been brilliant at the Bar. Such a waste that his mind was lost to the legal profession.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Boob jokes are really unoriginal and so are these comments. Well done for your consistent and extreme predictability guys.

(25)(21)

Anonymous

Consistency and predictability helps to create a stable and peaceful work environment

(31)(7)

Anonymous

Criminal barrister alert

(4)(3)

Steven Seagull

Unoriginal, but they never stop being funny!

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Can someone say “BAME”, please?

(5)(1)

Weird Tweeter

I dont know any skirt jokes. please can someone oblige?

(4)(4)

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° )

Stop skirting the issue

(17)(1)

Anonymous

Casual sexism to fight alleged casual sexism.

Sometimes I despair.

(28)(10)

Anonymous

I allege that the pointers are casually sexist.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

If someone is telling you sexist jokes report it for harassment and resign and claim constructive dismal compensation

(6)(10)

Anonymous

And if you’re a self-employed barrister?

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Wouldn’t advise claiming harassment, resigning and claiming constructive dismissal if someone makes a sexist joke – you’d have no chance of winning.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Why not? Are you familiar with this area of law or just talking through parts of your anatomy usually reserved for other functions?

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Because you’ll lose. I’m familiar with this area of law. I’m not talking, I’m typing – try not to be so aggressive when you’re told something you don’t want to hear. Show me 3 cases from bailii where someone has successfully claimed harassment and constructive dismissal on the basis of one ‘sexist’ joke.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

The criminal bar really needs to sort itself out. It seems unbelievable that this kind of behaviour goes on – but I have heard similar from multiple people at different levels at the criminal bar. It really seems to be in a time warp. You don’t get this stuff in other areas of the law or in other industries. There’s no excuse for it at the criminal bar, and it’s also just going to drive talent out at a time when attracting and retaining good people is most difficult.

(14)(3)

Anonymous

The criminal bar became a poor career choice in 1994.

The horse you’re worried about bolted a long time ago.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t think declining to enforce basic standards and effectively abandoning the entire enterprise is the best option for anyone.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

As long as the enforcement of basic standards is irrespective of gender.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

“[the criminal Bar] seems to be in a time warp.”

Hello?

Have you seen what they have to wear to court?

(13)(0)

Criminal Barrister

🎶Let’s…do…the time-warp…again!!!🎶

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Snowflake! Gammon! Happens when people run out of arguments.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The problem is that we don’t know if the stories you heard are true.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Ridiculous. You sound like you’re about 12 – have you ever had a job? You clearly don’t have any experience of being at the bar. Once you join a chambers you have as much say as any other member as to how it’s run.

(4)(6)

Gavlar

Look.

As long as Tommy Robinson still walks our streets on the grounds of “free speech”, If I want to talk to Derick (and the wider vicinity) about my weekend with Kevlar and the boys, and it wades into the territory of that bird who Dazzer got with and the size of her breasts, I shall do so.

Last time I checked, it was a free country.

Also, and this is not to detract from the problem that is obviously afoot in the Bar/Society, why does it matter that women retention in the profession is important? Is there some form of statutory minimum for how many women need to be practicing at the Bar?

(11)(7)

#generationdrynites(forgirls)

Haven’t you heard?

This is 2019, and upsetting people is either illegal or will at least end your career.

Get woke, bro!

(18)(3)

Anonymous

But Dazzer has got a tiny cock.

(9)(1)

Sally from Accounts

How tiny?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Casual fascism… okay then

(0)(1)

Cedric

Hmm…

Bit different between casual sexism and genocidal dictatorship…

Not condoning the former, or the latter for that matter, but it is a non sequitur to conflate the two.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Bunch of snowflakes lll

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Haha okay gammon 😂

(0)(4)

Anonymous

The misogyny she talks about doesn’t really exist outside of her own antiquated tiny niche.

She probably didn’t intend this to be featured in a LegalCheek battle of the sexes article. She makes fair points about childcare and misogynistic banter being unacceptable.

If it exists in criminal sets and firms, that is disappointing. Whilst there may be relatively small barriers facing women more broadly in their legal careers, they are usually biological and restricted to how dogmatic law firms can be with respect to how they treat all of their employees (limited working from home, for example).

(11)(2)

Anonymous

The problem with the tweets is that many of the points, e.g. childcare, are not gender related and are problems to do with retention of people at the Bar, not just females. And the author addresses misogynistic comments but not misandric ones.

(5)(0)

Drumpfenkrieg

The criminal courts are a jungle. Who wants to be represented by a whiny scold of an advocate who wants to police the behaviour of others to protect their own fragile sensibilities? It is not who I want defending me on a charge or rape or murder. If you don’t like the blokey culture, go and work in some woke industry like marketing or fashion.

(16)(3)

Anonymous

Planning to get charged for rape or murder sometime soon??

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Why do you accuse them of being a rapist or murderer?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t think she knows what a stag do is.

(6)(0)

Dungaree Donny

I have to say that in more than a decade of being sat in the robing room / chambers I have never once heard jokes about breasts or skirts and if there had been the person concerned would have been rightly pulled out the room and had some sense knocked into them, with complaints to HoC/Leader of Circuit. I’m not saying it has never happened but we are at risk of giving the job a bad name by making out that this is rife.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Ahh yes, the usual “I haven’t witnessed this so it cannot possibly exist!” argument.

Get a clue.

(2)(6)

Anonymous

Ahh yes, the usual “the reality doesn’t fit my agenda so I’ll attack the reality” argument.

Get a clue.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Proudman is at it again too. She written a piece in the telegraph about this. She also seems to boast about having received a letter from a judge telling her she’s incompetent.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Many of these celebrity lawyers are.

Being held up as incompetent by a judge is one of the most shameful things that can happen to a lawyer.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

What I don’t understand is why an organ like the Telegraph, which is meant to be generally right-wing and sound (see columnists like Charles Moore, etc), is giving oxygen to Proudperson and her ilk.

I could understand the Guardian – but the Telegraph?

Is it just the usual lawyer bashing?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

“Right-wing and sound”

Geeezz! Ah yes, I want all of my news pumped out of a big Murdoch propaganda printer to get my fill of pompous racist bile, instead of genuine independently-sourced journalism any day!

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Where do you source your news from?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Like any educated free-thinker I source my news from multiple publications, I then use my skills as a critical thinker to separate the wheat from the chaff instead of being spoon-fed like a baby. And to think most people on here are planning to become/already lawyers! Beggars belief what kind of narrow-minded thinkers we have in all these top roles…

Anonymous

So what are these multiple publications which you use your skills as a critical thinker to sort the wheat from the chaff?

Yorker

The Criminal Bar is currently engaged in a desperate fight for survival with the MoJ, in which the outcome may well depend on the public’s perception of the profession. The SecretBarrister and others have done wonders on that front in recent years.

So it’s *slightly* disappointing to see someone like Josephine (is that her name? I forget) undermining that progress by totally misrepresenting the truth on twitter in a desperate, boring bid for attention.

Of course sexism still exists here and there but no one behaves “like they’re on a stag-do”, or asks someone to pour them water just because they’re female.

A handful of twitter berks might find this sort of thing entertaining but the vast majority of the bar knows perfectly well what utter nonsense her comments are and will be mightily (albeit quietly) unimpressed.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

I agree.

The one inappropriate comment I’ve heard in a Crown Court robing room (by someone who can politely be described as an elderly male) was met with absolute disdain by everyone there.

In my experience the criminal Bar is certainly one of the more progressive and diverse practice areas. There are plenty of female judges and counsel, certainly from the more recent call years. I’d certainly like to see a comparison with, say, the chancery bar.

And, importantly, most of the complaints in these tweets apply equally to both sexes- early listings, warned lists, childcare issues, being asked by lazy seniors to do inappropriate things, the criminal justice system dying a slow death…

Making it about women only misses the point, although it will get the headlines.

(8)(1)

I used to be a lawyer!!!

From a man, I concur.

It’s about time men grew up. It is honestly like having to look after children.

(3)(6)

Anonymous

Hear hear!

(also from a man)

(1)(5)

Anonymous

Your problem is that the majority of females disagree with you.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Hear hear!

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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