Patronising Lawyers? Homophily and Same-Sex Litigation Teams before the UK Supreme Court

Christopher Hanretty, Steven Vaughan

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In this paper, we investigate patterns of team formation amongst barristers who appeared before the UK Supreme Court between October 2009 and August 2015. We show that there is evidence of considerable gender homophily in the formation of teams of barristers appearing before the UK Supreme Court. Same-sex teams of barristers are over-represented compared to the number we would expect if barristers paired up randomly. We also show that this gender homophily remains when we allow for the possibility that barristers pair up randomly within their chambers, or within their area of law. As such, the formation of teams of barristers in the Supreme Court is governed by practices and preferences which make same-sex legal teams more likely than they would be if team formation simply involved a gender-blind draw from a pool of lawyers. Barristers appearing before the Supreme Court prefer, for whatever reason, to work with other barristers of the same sex. We set out reasons why homophily in team formation is undesirable and discuss the routes through which different remedies might operate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-449
Number of pages24
JournalPublic Law
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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