A message for men

The third Woman Lawyer conference excelled itself this year, by putting Lord Woolf on the spot when, facing Jennifer Nadel, ITN's Home Affairs editor, he conceded he would like to see consideration of a fast track to help women up the legal ladder. Obviously, he said, this did not mean positive discrimination, but a recognition of the way legal careers can differ in progression because of gender.

This view was also echoed by Bar Council chair Robert Owen QC and Law Society president Tony Girling when they outlined the initiatives currently being undertaken and proposed by both sides of the profession.

Although the vast majority of those attending the conference were, of course, women, and one moderator said that there was no intention of turning it into a "whingefest", a forum which was entitled "Challenging Our Leaders" inevitably had to challenge males. It was a pity then, that more men did not attend. They make up the vast majority of the decision makers in the profession, and they are the ones who have to be trained and made aware of what equal opportunities means.

Ironically, what the fourth Woman Lawyer Conference may need, is more men.