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⚖️ Les femmes peuvent-elles devenir avocates? Arguments for & against women lawyers: 1930s






For or Against – Two confreres clash. Their arguments date back to 1930s France.

The article reveals the arrogance & demeaning of women by the ‘Against‘ side. Even today, in Australia, these kinds of attitudes remain in some quarters.  The legal profession is still male dominated more so in the court arena, the criminal court arena.

it is not a woman’s job; the profession of lawyer is a profession of strength, it is an animal profession if you want. Women have to always explain themselves to men and, therefore, are always in a state of inferiority. 

It takes a swipe at Magistrates/Judges too.

While “For” is a general response in favour of women as lawyers, I think it deficient in not replying more specifically, assertively, point by point, to the arguments made by ‘Against’.



 … I have no objection to the so-called inferiority of female intelligence. This is a point that is not discussed. I also have no objection to the preparation of a file. I have never personally had a woman secretary, but I have often seen files prepared by them and there is nothing to object.

My opinion, however, is that it is not a woman’s job; the profession of lawyer is a profession of strength, it is an animal profession if you want. Women have to always explain themselves to men and, therefore, are always in a state of inferiority. 

Whatever may be said, there is always on the lips of the magistrate who sees a young girl appear before him, a slight smile. He is wrong, and maybe in a while, that smile will no longer exist, but now it is so.

Most certainly I will not advise my daughter to take this job if she needs to make a living. There are men’s trades. There are women’s jobs. Boxing is a man’s job, the Bar is a man’s job. It’s a fight of its kind.

It’s not a chemical analysis, an architect’s plan, a well typed letter, it’s a battle and, of course, there’s a contradiction between everything that is woman and everything that is battle.

Judicial eloquence may evolve towards simplicity, there will always be a battle to be fought by approaching the opponent.

As for me, I prefer that this battle be delivered by a man than by a woman, even from the point of view of the client.

And what is annoying with women lawyers is that they always want to win their case, I say that in a sense that we understand. They do not differentiate between what is normal and right. Relationships with them are more difficult because they are always on the defensive against male confreres. The woman, for centuries, has been attacked and, therefore, her natural reflex is defense. But in the Palace it takes an aspect that is not appropriate.

There is also the question of physical resistance. I have attended hearings that start at noon and finish at eight o’clock in the evening. When I find myself alone in my car, I am broken. I’ve seen confreres who have some resistance, really groggy after a few hours of fighting at the helm.

There is the feeling of responsibility on your shoulders, it’s not just an intellectual fight, it’s something alive, human. During the deliberation you feel, really, like skinned; it is a question of supporting this and of resuming, if necessary, the debate on an incident that opens the hearing again. It’s overwhelming with fatigue. Why not honestly admit that this is not a woman’s job? After all, there are race disabilities; there are also disabilities of sex. The woman is not made for the contradiction. Maintained at a certain height, at a certain intellectual level, the discussion, for her, becomes a dispute, it is always the character of Feydeau in the “household scenes”. The woman does not There is no grandeur in the contradiction. Another aspect. Women do not, generally speaking, have the true meaning of legal defense. How often do they not tell us: How is it that you defend such scoundrels? We should cut their neck right away.

And she say that with a kind of hateful tension. No doubt, many men hold the same reasoning, but they surround him with a little skepticism, they say it in an interrogative way, and not obviously affirmative, as women do. We are talking about introducing women to the jury. I am consistently against it because it would be a certain increase in the penalty. A woman, in general, has this somewhat primitive impulse of the old proverb: tooth for tooth, an eye for an eye.



French court attire.

Of course, the ‘powdered’ wig’ or perruque ‘poudree’, is not worn by lawyers in France.




. . . And why not women at the Bar? I find them quite in their place.

I have often heard them plead; they plead in a manner perfectly comparable to men. I really do not see what makes us believe we’re smarter than them. The other day, I was in the presence of a woman to whom a very complex file had been entrusted by a trustee in bankruptcy; my opponent came out of his honor and his presentation was irreproachable.

You will tell me that perhaps two years ago she was preparing her file; it is possible, but it does not concern us, the only thing we can consider is how it got away. Well, she’s done very normally.

You want it to be exceptional? Let’s say it’s exceptional; but even for the average professional value, I think women are worth the men. It is useless to raise our necks …Women approach the profession with incredible confidence, order, method, prodigious tenacity. I could cite examples of sisters who have really conquered all difficulties only through will and tenacity.

Whether it is an appeal to the Council of State or to the prefecture council, or works of recovery of the culpable childhood, the whole thing is organized with an undeniable mastery.

They are already three hundred, there is no reason for the flow to stop; they find in the palace too many attractions now to get away from it. Obviously, often it is not the brilliant aspect of the profession that they realize, but it can be the solid bottom, the useful one. As for the real intellectuality they show, that is another question. Let’s say women do not like things of the mind. The number of girls who, as students, eagerly pursued the study of school curricula, and who later abandoned all intellectual preoccupation, is said to be considerable. Most would be limited to very small readings. But, tell me, are our fellow men all of another essence? I am in favor of the presence of women at the Palace, and completely convinced partisan.



Court room in France

Original article at the French ‘Can Women Become Lawyers’ here


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