Lawyer urges Vernon Law Courts to remove ‘lady barristers’ sign

Click to play video: 'Should Vernon’s court house remove ‘lady barristers’ sign?'
Should Vernon’s court house remove ‘lady barristers’ sign?
Watch: Vancouver lawyer speaks out against dated Vernon court house signage. – Apr 22, 2019

At over 100 years old, the Vernon court house is a tribute to the city’s history.

But should some of its interior signage become history as well?

A visiting Vancouver lawyer said she was hurt and confused when she saw a small room in the basement labeled “lady barristers.”

“I felt uncomfortable when I saw the space that was for female lawyers and how limited the resources were there,” said lawyer Kyla Lee.

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“It really threw me off to be subject to what I felt was gender discrimination in the courthouse.”

It’s not clear how long it’s been there, but the old-school sign offended Lee.

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“I didn’t understand why it was that women lawyers in the courthouse were being treated differently,” Lee said.

“I was angry. It upset me because we are in 2019 — we shouldn’t have to be having these conversations about how people can be affected by signs on doors.”

Lee said it wasn’t until another female lawyer told her the main floor barristers’ room was for everyone that she realized she was welcome in the better-equipped lawyers room.

She’d like to see the signage, which she feels sends a negative message to the public, changed.

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“Anyone who sees that sign sees that divide between what men are given in the court house and what women are given in the court house and that can lead people to conclude that maybe it is not wise to hire a female lawyer because they are not treated the same as male lawyers,” Lee said.

The province couldn’t provide anyone for an interview about the signage in the public building on Easter Monday.

However, it said the attorney general will look into the issue on Tuesday.

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Another female lawyer, who did not want to be named, stressed staff and fellow lawyers at the courthouse have always been welcoming to women and that better services had been prioritized during budgeting over replacing signage.

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