Lord Sumption has really got the legal world buzzing with an interview in the London Evening Standard that essentially warned against using positive discrimination to increase the number of female judges because of the "appalling" impact it could have on the justice system.
It's a big topic and I've already read some interesting responses to Lord Sumption, including: Dr Stephen Vaughan of Birmingham University, with a useful statistical backdrop in The Lawyer; Michael Reed of the Free Representation Unit explaining in a blog why he reluctantly agrees with the good Lord; and a blog from March by barrister Felicity Gerry on the Halsbury Law Exchange on why the failure to support positive action by men at the top "smacks of self interest and fear of change".
I would also point you to a speech made recently by Patricia Robertson QC, vice-chair of the Bar Standards Board, on the challenges for women in reaching silk.
The criticism of Lord Sumption - renowned for the size of his intellect but now less so for his common sense - is not a kneejerk PC reaction. I've been writing the same stories about equality and diversity in the legal profession for the last 20 years and I think we're all sick of it.
I don't agree that women should have to wait 50 years for balance to arrive. I would favour a short burst of positive discrimination to get things moving more quickly, not least in the Supreme Court (which is easy to say, one might suggest, as I won't be on the wrong end of it).
As well as those already proving their mettle on the bench, there is no reason why the best women lawyers cannot be catapulted straight from practice into the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court; it's what happened to Lord Sumption, after all, so I don't suppose he would object to that.
Yes, they must be up to the job, but we must look at the bigger picture. Aside from the need for the judiciary to reflect the community it serves (and indeed the profession it comes from), studies show how women judges bring a different perspective to the role, and at the moment this is absent from most of the major decisions issued by our courts.
And in all the debate about gender equality, let us not forget about the lack of BAME judges as well.
A last word though from former Court of Appeal judge Sir Henry Brooke, who tweeted this morning: "I used to teach judges that if they said silly things people would say that 'they all think like that'. They don't."
One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice. Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court judge, said he believed that the judiciary was a “terrific public asset” which could be “destroyed very easily” if the selection of candidates was skewed in favour of women.