What Do You Call a Female Lawyer These Days? A Blonde Beautician

By now you may have heard about the 24-year old "blonde beautician from Essex" who won an appeal against one of England's largest property developers, Bellway Homes back in November, 2009. Georgina Blackwell, a woman with no legal training, faced down a English courtroom full of barristers, presenting her evidence and cross-examining the Bellway solicitor. At the initial case, Bellway won right of access to the Blackwell property to tear down a wall between the two pieces of land. Blackwell was also ordered to pay five-figures in damages, £22,000 in legal fees as well as cover her own £3,000 in legal costs. Facing bankruptcy, Blackwell's daughter stepped in. She had just turned down a position to study law at Kingston University, choosing instead to help out in her mother's salon after her mother broke her wrist. Reviewing the legal documents, Ms. Blackwell discovered that the the right of access pertained to only one wall. She reopened the case, went before the court and won the day, reversing the previous decision and earning a £75,000 judgment. Today, Ms. Blackwell is studying law at BPP Law School after the dean of the school learned about her win and offered her a scholarship. She will continue to work part-time at the salon to cover the cost of transportation between home and school but she is determined to make it. I write this blog to tell any male lawyers out there who still think that "women have no business being lawyers"--a fellow law school classmate said this to me in 1990--that we are here to stay. Do not underestimate us. We may not be able to physically best a man but we can emotionally and intellectually stand shoulder to shoulder. You wonder why the previous generation of female lawyers were called "pitbulls with lipstick" or "bi*ch on wheels"? Because they faced actual and passive discrimination when trying to get a seat at the table: Being called "little lady", being ogled in the courtroom, being physically threatened, being excluded from the good old boy network. They paved the way for women like me. This a post for all the female lawyers: Illegitimi non carborundum.

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