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We’re struggling to see what the problem is quite frankly

Summary:
We're aware that we might not be quite in tune with the zeitgeist here but we do find it difficult to understand what is the problem here:The ranks of Queen’s Counsel are the elite of the legal profession’s advocates. To take silk — so-called after the silk robes worn by the 10 per cent or so who attain the initials “QC” — is a passport to status and higher earnings. So who gets it, and how, matters.Yet despite fundamental reform in 2005 to end the system’s reliance on judges’ comments and the lord chancellor’s decisions, women still do not put themselves forward in anything like the same numbers as men.As it happens women seem to achieve this exalted rank in about the same proportion as they put themselves forward. The portion of newly appointed QCs that are female also seems to be about

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We're aware that we might not be quite in tune with the zeitgeist here but we do find it difficult to understand what is the problem here:

The ranks of Queen’s Counsel are the elite of the legal profession’s advocates. To take silk — so-called after the silk robes worn by the 10 per cent or so who attain the initials “QC” — is a passport to status and higher earnings. So who gets it, and how, matters.

Yet despite fundamental reform in 2005 to end the system’s reliance on judges’ comments and the lord chancellor’s decisions, women still do not put themselves forward in anything like the same numbers as men.

As it happens women seem to achieve this exalted rank in about the same proportion as they put themselves forward. The portion of newly appointed QCs that are female also seems to be about the same as the the portion of those lawyers of the appropriate seniority who are female.

We'd thus start with the idea that the appointment of QCs isn't a problem. As the analysis goes on, what is actually happening is that rather more of the women - than the men - who qualify to be lawyers don't progress in their careers to the point where they might be considered as QCs. Yes, obviously, family life and children.

That is, those who take the career breaks - or, as is mentioned, restrict their travel or activities for the same reason - to raise their children tend not to reach the upper reaches of the profession. We are really quite certain that the same would be true of men who took such breaks, restricted their activities in such a manner.  

Which is why we can't see what the problem is. Those who strive for the brass ring seem to have, whatever their gender (and the same seems to be true of ethnicity), the same opportunity to grasp it. Which is about what we would hope society did and does. People should indeed have the liberty, even the right, to organise their lives as they wish, to pursue their own goals. That's rather what being a liberal means and we're most definitely that, liberal.

That those who don't work nose to the grindstone for 20 years don't become QCs does not worry us. For the same reason that those who do not qualify as lawyers don't become QCs does not worry us. People make choices in life, they get to enjoy living as they wish. But, as ever, making one choice does rather preclude some other outcomes - opportunity costs do always exist of course.

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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