Dinah Rose QC Theres a big pool of talent out there
Dinah Rose QC has take upon the role of President of the Leicester University Law Society (LULS). The high-profile barrister, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the UK Supreme Court, gave a free public keynote lecture entitled "Parliament, Europe and Judicial Activism: Sovereignty in the 21st Century".
She joined Nathan Ifill from the University of Leicester News Centre ahead of her talk:
When asked why she took on the role, Rose said: "I was particularly attracted by the fact that Leicester punches above its weight in terms of the quality of its law school." Serving as president for the academic year, she feels that it's important for the bar to reach out beyond universities where a lot of pupil barristers traditionally come from. Rose argues that, as barristers tend to be the pool from which judges come, the senior parts of the legal system need to be more reflective of society to avoid ending up with "a group of pale, stale, male public schoolboys". "There's a big pool of talent out there", she added.
After more than 25 years at the bar, Rose has a wealth of knowledge to share with students. The new Leicester University Law Society president said that she hoped to "answer questions they may have about how best to get into the bar, how to get a pupillage, what areas of the bar they might be interested in and to encourage people". Although encouraging, the multi-award winning barrister described the bar as a "brutally competitive profession" and bluntly stated that "if you can't get a good degree, you won't get in front of a pupillage committee.". To eliminate doubt, she added: "You need a first - or a very good 2:1.". The new president leads by example, holding a First Class degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford, as well as a Post-Graduate Diploma in Law with distinction from City University.
In September 2015, the University of Leicester officially announced its partnership with the HeForShe initiative - a solidarity campaign launched by the United Nations promoting gender equality. With some of the most recent statistics suggesting that just 35% of practising barristers are female, Rose is all too aware of the gender imbalance in the profession: "I think the issues of gender diversity at the bar is similar to the issues of class and also of race that the bar is beset with...Plenty of women are qualifying as barristers - somewhere around 50% - the problem is more that in the early years of practice, women tend to drop out because of the massively long hours that are required and the difficulties of combining the bar with other caring responsibilities."
There's no simple solution. Rose said: "There's been a tradition of judges saying to barristers at half past 4, 'I want a note on X' for 10:30 tomorrow morning...that's extremely difficult if you're going home to three small children.". However, attitudes are changing and the signs are encouraging. Rose added: "Once childcare is embraced more by men as being something that they're sharing and isn't seen as a women's issue, then I think you'll see far more accommodation of flexible working practices."