Sonia Van Gilder Cooke & Natalia Naish, the team behind Barrister Hottie – the website which shot to fame this summer with its rankings of the hottest male & female barristers in London...
So, Hottie Barrister has caused a bit of a stir since its launch! What is your background and how did the site come about?
Sonia: We are both writers, one with a background in art and the other in journalism. I am a former Time Magazine reporter and I now work for The Future Laboratory and Natalia is an archivist who has just published 'Coke: The Biography', a book on the history of cocaine. We are great friends and natural collaborators thanks to our similar sense of humour and backgrounds - we are Ivy League graduates from Los Angeles who ended up in London. Because we arrived in this country without the usual native networks, we both found it rather hard to meet suitable men.
How long was it in the planning?
Natalia: One evening after reading 'Bleak House' in the park and feeling inspired about the legal world, we decided to devise the ideal British man. He would be a tall, handsome Oxbridge barrister. And so the idea of Your Barrister Boyfriend was born. Its fame spread thanks to Alex Aldridge at Legal Cheek who picked up the blog and wrote an article about it.
Natalia: The site wasn't calculated -- it was a lark and we didn't spend months agonising over it. That said, we are both very thorough when we put our minds to something we care about. And if there is one thing we care about, it is handsome British men! Just kidding, sort of.... We did want to do a good job and were determined to go through as many chambers as was physically possible given the limitations of our day jobs. We went through hundreds of them, using Legal 500 as a guide.
You’re enviously advocates for equality as both men and women have been ranked (which is very commendable!) but what was the toughest list to compile?
Sonia: We do have slightly different tastes, Natalia being partial to old rogues and I like more boyish specimens, which made for some very heated debates. Eventually however we reached a happy resolution and felt more than happy with our final list. With hindsight, however, there are a couple of hotties we've subsequently discovered that probably deserved a spot on the original list.
There’s been a mixed reaction from the legal industry but have you been surprised by any of the feedback you’ve had?
Natalia: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our tipsters have told us about a few barristers who, despite claiming the contrary to their friends, were wildly chuffed to be on the list and could handle our gentle ribbing. And since Englishmen pride themselves on their witty sarcasm, they couldn't lose face by complaining about being put on a hottie list by two American girls, could they?
We haven't heard much from any of the winners although we have had a sweet correspondence with Marianne Butler who is utterly charming. Alexander Learmonth got in touch but informed us that he is happily married. Unfortunately, for our sake, it seems as though most of them are. We will add that Patrick Hennessey ought to be taking us out to dinner after the free publicity we have given his book...
One of our particular highlights was when you claimed Justine Thornton of 39 Essex Street was given a place purely because “she has to listen to Ed Miliband’s adenoidal patter every day.” Is that really a fair reason?!
Sonia: Justine Thornton isn't bad looking but perhaps it was a bit mean of us to include her. We were going to say something much worse about poor Ed...
Finally, what’s next for Barrister Hottie?
Natalia: We are currently brainstorming about the future of our enterprise. Since we haven't yet met Mr Darcy, we may have to look at other professions. We may have to do doctors and bankers as well. We are open to suggestions.