Law: Human Rights Meets Girl Power ; Cherie Booth's Part in a Legal Powwow to Debate Women's Rights Has Attracted the World's Most Influential Women. What Will They Talk about, Asks Robert Verkaik

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CHERIE BOOTH QC is to head the line-up at the first ever world conference of women lawyers and perhaps the first meaningful demonstration of "girl power".

Ms Booth, a leading employment and human rights barrister, will be joined in London by a thousand lawyers and politicians from all over the world to champion women's rights. The two-day event, on 1 and 2 March, will confront a number of controversial issues, including one on "women, Islam and the law". This will focus on violence against women in Islamic countries as well as looking at their legal rights and access to justice.

Now that Queen Noor of Jordan has pulled out of the event this debate will be led by lawyers from Pakistan, Egypt and London. Other key speakers at the conference include Madeleine Albright, the present US Secretary of State, and Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development. Although neither are lawyers their presence will help to raise the profile of an event which had originally been conceived to celebrate the coincidence of timing when the world's three biggest associations of lawyers would be led by women.

But hopes of a jointly-organised event were dashed when Kamlesh Bahl, the former vice president of the Law Society and the lawyer tipped to be the first ever woman leader of the profession in England and Wales, was accused of bullying her staff. She has since resigned and her case for sex and race discrimination against the Law Society being heard at Watford employment tribunal.

The American Bar Association, now led by US attorney Martha Barnett, has also decided not to play an official role, but will focus on its own conference, which was held in London last year. …