The long march of lawyers from diverse backgrounds


By Stéphanie Marteau and Louisa Ben

Published on October 20, 2021 at 03:00 – Updated on October 25, 2021 at 14:38

Lawyer Yassine Yakouti remembers the year he decided to attend the internship conference. This very select 200-year-old eloquence contest turns twelve anonymous young lawyers into palace rockstars for a year. No sooner had he been elected secretary of the “conf” than, as tradition dictates, the large criminal files were assigned to him, the chairman of the bar gave him a kiss. A world then opened up to him.

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He discovered that well-born people order a cheese board when they have a drink on the terrace, that they “do not wear certain brands of shirts”, expensive but considered to be in bad taste, but, possibly, in August, in Paris, espadrilles… Manners, uses that the lawyer who grew up in Antony (Hauts-de-Seine) in a working class environment, 29 years at the era, did not master. Now a partner and at the head of his firm, Yassine Yakouti defends unions, employees spied on at Ikea, rapper Kaaris after an altercation with his rival Booba at Orly airport and a few luminaries of Parisian banditry…

“I did everything to be there, I gave myself the means of my ambitions”, confides without blinking the 40-year-old criminal lawyer with childish features. Either long studies of law at the University of Paris-Saclay, juggling between a specialization in taxation and business law and odd jobs as a delivery driver, a double course in business school then a year in the United States, before leaving integrate a large Anglo-Saxon firm. A royal road for business law that this fan of Jacques Vergès, the defender of Klaus Barbie and Carlos, nevertheless chose to leave to do criminal law.

Valencian lawyer Kamel Derouiche, 29, associate at Yassine Yakouti's office, in Paris, on September 27, 2021.

His success can be read on an image. On the photo immortalizing the 42 elected to the council of the order of the Paris bar for the 2021-2022 financial year, lined up in black dresses around the chairman Olivier Cousi, on a beautiful stone staircase, there are only two faces from the visible minorities. The smiles of the duo Clarisse Jurin and Yassine Yacouti betray neither discomfort nor astonishment.

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This almost monochrome photo of the council of the Paris Bar proves how complicated the integration of young lawyers from diverse backgrounds is. It alone justifies taking a look at these blockages, while the profession is very attractive and its professional ethics should protect it from any discrimination. However, in the milieu, where the question of equality between men and women has recently become a concern, the subject of social and ethnic diversity remains taboo.

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