Good grief. When Obiter dangled a prize for tales of sexism in the legal sector (21 January), we thought we would be taking a walk to the dusty far end of memory lane.
However some of your horror stories were horribly recent – so much so that identities are being withheld. Like that of the (male) partner who observed: ‘There are two sorts of women solicitors, pretty ones who don’t know how to do the job, and ugly ones who do.’ Or the one who greeted a poorly female colleague with the words ‘You up the duff?’. Against those, the senior partner who sent home a temp because she was wearing trousers sounds almost charming. (But not quite.)
We also heard a lovely tale from a keen young starter who accompanied a partner at a City firm to lunch with a client at his club. ‘I was introduced to the clients, then deposited in the lounge with a newspaper and told that they would collect me in about half an hour. I must have looked bemused as it was only then that the partner explained that women weren’t allowed in the bar. I was therefore to sit and wait while they enjoyed a pre-lunch drink – which, being newly qualified and keen to make an impression – I duly did.
‘Eventually they reappeared and we went into lunch. Having covered off the areas they were interested in, lunch was brought to a sharp close only for the clients to retreat back to the bar from which I was banned, along with the partner who suggested that he would see me back at the office. My first and last insight into a gentleman’s club!’
In truth, this was back in 1986, which must have been the swansong of boozy City lunches. Or was it?
There’s no historical excuse for our winner, however. ‘When discussing with the firm’s principal whether or not I should qualify as a police station rep he told me to "go home and ask your husband, he might not like it". The year was 2009 and I was (slightly) over 40 years old.’
Many thanks to A Solicitor in Suffolk, who wins a pair of tickets to the Finborough Theatre’s revival of London Wall.