The diversity series—An interview with Robin White

Last week, we met with employment and discrimination advocate: Robin White. A dedicated and enthusiastic barrister, Robin has spent 25 years at the bar, the majority of those years spent working at Old Square Chambers. In our recent interview we discussed her experience of transition, life at the bar and trans discrimination.

While detaching the personal from the professional comes with the job, as a trans woman, Robin’s position is fairly unique. Robin herself explains that the trans community itself is fairly minute: only 2% of the entire population are trans and the number of practicing trans individuals is even smaller. As a result, Robin’s professional life can be complicated. Working across a complex case load acting for both claimants and defendants in discrimination cases- in any given week Robin may be acting at two extremes of discrimination law. As she herself describes: “I work across the full gamut of discrimination- whether that’s defending a victim of discrimination or enabling companies stay on the right side of the law.” This may result in Robin being instructed by companies attempting to retain their legality when trying to discriminate against a certain characteristic of individual. However, the duality of her professional experience has certainly aided her practice: as both an ex employer and victim of discrimination, Robin has a unique vantage point from which to offer legal advice. This understanding has certainly impressed both claimants and defendants and has seen her practice soar. While Robin is frank about the realities of her work “even the most unedifying of individuals or organisations are entitled to an experienced and capable defence.”

This has included working for the UK arm of an American company who wished to “keep trans people out of their organisation.” When asked if there was some dissonance there? Well, Robin is very clear that even in the darkest of cases, professionalism will out. Hardworking to her core, Robin is a firm believer that work should be the defining factor when selecting who you’d be willing to work with. While she is cognisant of the boundaries presented by certain religious factions and the challenges that arise when working with those most vulnerable, Robin is forceful in her belief that it is better to work with the best than discriminate based on individual characteristics. 

Chambers and Partners call her: “very direct and to the point, focusing on key issues with no nonsense”, Robin describes herself as “helpful, straightforward and sensible.” Listen to this week's episode of LexChat to find out more about Robin White, Barrister and Trans advocate.

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