The position taken by the Strasbourg Bar on the use of the terms “lawyer” and “batonniere” in the rules of procedure of the Bar Council is creating controversy.
There is no lawyer according to the Strasbourg Bar. The Council of the Alsatian Order has issued an unfavorable opinion on the feminization of the terms “lawyer” and “batonnier”.
Her opinion had been requested by the National Council of Bars, which wishes to reform the national rules of procedure to introduce the possibility for female lawyers to be called as such or “batonniere”. Consultations have thus been made with the various unions and bars, including that of Strasbourg, which opposes it. According to the minutes of the council quoted by the Syndicat des Avocats de France, relayed by the DNA, the Strasbourg bar would justify its decision in particular by the non-compliance of the term “lawyer” in jurisdictions foreign to France and the fact that “equality would consist in making no distinction”.
55% of lawyers are women
This position was deplored by many lawyers such as Nathalie Goldberg, president of the local section of the Syndicat des Avocats de France, guest of BFM Alsace.
“It’s surprising here in Strasbourg when there has been a practice for decades. Lawyers have never had a problem signing or putting up their plate with their feminized title.” To show her displeasure, she added a capital “e” to her plaque in front of her cabinet.
A choice that she deems astounding when in the legal world, everyone refers to them as lawyers and it is a common practice to be legally registered.
“It is only a question of integrating diversity, the sociology of our profession, the use which has already been used for several decades. We are out of step with a major social fact”, denounces Nathalie Goldberg.
In France, women are mostly represented in the profession at 55% for those registered with the National Bar Council and 70% for students.
An anecdotal decision?
According to Déborah Zouari, lawyer member of the Council of the Order of Strasbourg, the choice related only to the registration in the internal regulations and not “to know if we are for or against the feminization of the terms, that I would have voted for”, she assures.
“We are women, we had to fight a lot for our freedom and do what we want, says Déborah Zouari. I don’t think I need to be told that I can do it.”
Even if the opinion of the Strasbourg bar remains advisory, it highlights the discrimination suffered by women. Kaoutar Choukour believes that he paid the price after her pregnancy. “When you have a child, we have the impression that you are less involved in the life of the practice. You no longer stay until late in the evening so we have to return your collaboration contract”, says- she.
According to a report by the human rights defender, in 2018, 72% of female lawyers said they had witnessed gender discrimination.