Women try to get clerks 'on their side'

FREEMASONRY among clerks is one controversial issue likely to be aired at a talk for women barristers this week.

'Getting your clerk on your side' is the first of two seminars on how to succeed at the Bar organised by the Association of Women Barristers.

All three speakers at the seminar are women practice managers or senior clerks and include Christine King, practice manager at Doughty Street Chambers.

Barbara Hewson, spokeswoman for the Association of Women Barristers, identifies the prevalence of freemasonry among clerks as one obstacle for women barristers attempting to succeed in a career at the Bar.

She says there have been complaints of a male-dominated social network among clerks and barristers which women find difficult to break into.

She acknowledges clerks have little influence over much of the work which arrives at chambers and which comes with specific barristers' names on it.

But she urges clerks to play a positive role encouraging solicitors' firms to hire more women barristers.

"I think clerks could be more proactive. Solicitors are always on the look-out for new barristers to instruct," she says.

The second talk, scheduled for 3 April, is called 'Silk and how to get it'. The speakers are Belinda Bucknall QC, Sonia Proudman QC, Pamela Scriven QC and Helena Kennedy QC.

Tickets for Wednesday's talk at the Arbitration Room, Gray's Inn, at 6.30pm cost u5 and non-members are welcome to attend.

For further details contact Yvonne Cocklin on 0171-405 7211.