Lawyers who have made, to borrow Lord Sumption’s striking phrase, a ‘lifestyle choice’ may recognise the journey our senior judiciary is engaged upon when it comes to improving diversity.
Absent progress in a desired direction, the judiciary’s parents – civil society, the profession which begot them and policymakers – are increasing the pressure for action.
Sumption himself is presumably sat mute and reflective on the judicial ‘naughty step’. It has been left to others to respond to requests that, left unheard, would lead to the ultimate sanction of parental intervention. Few lawyers say it, but this means quotas.
In saying ‘there is much to be done, and done now’, the lord chief justice has shown that he gets the process in train (tinyurl.com/qemqyxg).
Why do we state with such confidence that quotas are no longer off the agenda? Refuseniks might ponder that any profession’s independence of operation is predicated on its ability to keep its own house in order and serve the public interest.
The Judicial Appointments Commission, of course, might be thought well placed to pre-empt quotas. It can hardly be a coincidence that the judiciary issued a press release last Thursday proclaiming that two new female appointments - Judge May QC (pictured) and Bobbie Cheema-Grubb QC - had taken the number of women High Court judges to 23 out of 108.
Welcome, of course – but a relatively small step for womankind, when men still account for four out of five.