Creche Course

I was disappointed to read in the Guardian this week that the campaign for a Creche in the Inns of Court for the children of barristers has STILL not got through and sounds as if it may get turned down on costs grounds.

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A bunch of women were trying to get this off the ground when I was first pregnant in early 2007 (and even before that I think), but I fled the city and took my practice nearer to the support of family and cut down my commuting time. I don’t know how we could have made it work otherwise.

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Shame on the bar if it can’t find a way to make remaining at the bar after starting a family more manageable. Too many good female barristers just disappear from practice because they decide the compromises their families are expected to make are too great, that the sums just don’t add up.

F4J Relaunch

Pootling around on the internet in the light of this weeks horse painting shennanigans I came across Matt O’Connor’s new blog Father4Justice, the new F4J website (be warned, it looks nice but plays annoying music which won’t turn off) and facebook group for the recently relaunched Fathers 4 Justice. Matt O’Connor’s first substantive blog post explaining the decision to re-enter the fray and to relaunch F4J is (as ever with Matt O’Connor) punchy, hard hitting and well crafted – it roused my rabble – and I’m “the enemy”.

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But seriously, although I don’t buy into many of the conspiracy theories about the anti-male agenda of the system, there is a place for campaigns for reform of the family justice system – dads, mums and kids do very often get a raw deal. And although I recognise that for many I’m part of the problem, I like to think I do my bit for justice, even though I do it from within the system.

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As for public campaigns, I’m sure that Matt O’Connor is a fantastic spokesperson and l0bbyist for F4J, and the new web / social media presence is certainly well designed and slick – and importantly very grown up. But how does F4J (the ‘official campaign’ as it has been forced to call itself) deal with the splitters and splinter groups that persistently damage its reputation and undermine the progress it is striving to make? Its the same old problem faced from Northern Ireland to Monty Python and I don’t think there is an easy answer. It damages credibility and its a chronic problem – and judging from correspondence being circulated by New F4J* its a problem that is likely to become acute in coming months.

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* I’m puzzled by this email from New F4J [edited to refer correctly to NEW F4J- oops], which starts off by ‘not condoning’ the vandalism, but by the end rather appears to have turned about face: ‘so be it’ and even to threaten more of the same ‘expect the unexpected’. That doesn’t read to me as a completely wholehearted condemnation of criminal acts in the name of father’s rights.