The first Italian woman lawyer, Lidia Poet, is remembered for her constant fight to create space for women in the judiciary system. Lidia was not discouraged and continued to pursue her interest outside the courtroom at a time when women arguing in court was deemed ugly and unnecessary. “The Law According to Lidia Poet” is not just about the cases solved by Lidia but a study of how she was ahead of her time. She tended to look beyond the obvious and became a shoulder for those who were denied justice due to their economic or social status. So, without further delay, let’s explore the nuances of Lidia’s character as portrayed in the Netflix series.
While Lidia had the educational qualifications to practice law, she was barred from entering court. A woman practicing law was the subject of extreme gossip and scandal in late 1800s Italy. It was the office of the attorney general that filed a complaint against Lidia Poet in the Court of Appeal in Turin, which ultimately resulted in her registration becoming null and void. Lidia did not give up and continued working at her brother’s law firm. Enrico was not an exception since he, too, struggled to understand Lidia’s need to prove herself as a lawyer. But over the years, he witnessed the lengths Lidia was willing to go to for her clients to bring them justice, and he was ultimately impressed by her passion. Lidia was forced to leave her home by her father after she refused to marry the man her father desired. He convinced the entire family that she left on her own.
Even though Lidia hoped for someone to stop her from leaving, her family accepted her departure. She lived in a rented apartment and was known for charging less than most male lawyers. Her lover, Andrea, respected Lidia’s independence. Even though he was in love with her, he chose to never exert control over her. His love was rather non-demanding, and he simply wanted what was best for Lidia. While Andrea satisfied her libido and was a caring friend, Lidia was not in love with him. Lidia broke free from gender expectations and did not shy away from the shock that she often caused as a result of her lifestyle choices. Lidia was among the first wave of women in Italy who pursued higher education and demanded entry into professions dominated by men.
While women continued to indulge in dance nights and gatherings, the late 1800s witnessed a sudden increase in women joining the labor force and demanding their rights. This contrast is evident in how Enrico’s wife continued to hold onto the traditions while her daughter, Marianna, was inspired by the life led by Lidia. Marianna was a young girl who was in love with the gardener at their mansion. While it was young love, she showed courage by choosing someone she knew her family would frown upon. Lidia was sympathetic toward Marianna; after all, she knew how forceful a family could be. She allowed Marianna and Lorenzo to spend time in her room. Marianna was inspired by Lidia’s rebellious nature and wanted to fight for what she believed in. Unknowingly, Lidia had inspired more people than she could have imagined.
Lidia did not share an affectionate relationship with her father. The men in the Poet family were lawyers, but Lidia’s interest in becoming a lawyer was not accepted by her father. He was against the idea of women pursuing law, and that was reflected in Enrico’s thought process. He wanted to uphold the beliefs of their father and demanded that Lidia stop pretending to be a real lawyer. Enrico’s wife reminded Lidia that if God wanted her to practice law, he would not have made her a woman. Therefore, according to her, Lidia was fighting against the will of the Almighty.
Most discussions lose their ground once fate and destiny are brought into the conversation, which was perhaps why Lidia chose to let it slide. Lidia ran away from her house to do what she wanted instead of being controlled by the men in her family. It was while investigating a case that she came across a letter that disclosed how her father was in debt as a result of gambling. He made an agreement with his friend, Antonio. He agreed to marry Lidia to his son, Alberto, to get rid of the debt. Lidia was unaware that her marriage was arranged by her father purely to benefit him. She could not help but feel the horror that she would have experienced if she had married according to her father’s choice.
While Lidia always knew that her father did not approve of her lifestyle, she did not expect him to use her as a way to get rid of the problems that were caused by his gambling interests. Later, during the investigation of the murder of Achille Castelnuovo, the spirit of her father visited her. She did not believe that it was her father, but after solving the case, she received a letter from Madame Crespal, in which she stated that it was her father, and he wanted to apologize for hurting Lidia. The fact that her father referred to her as a “princess” made it all the more convincing. No one apart from the family knew that her father called her princess. Maybe Crespal did have the ability to communicate with spirits, and maybe after years of belittling Lidia and throwing her out of the house because she refused to marry Alberto, his spirit wanted to apologize to her now that she had discovered the truth. While Lidia did not know if she could trust the source, the letter allowed her to let go of the mistakes her father made.
Lidia did not believe in commitment and chose to be a free bird, but there was something about Jacopo that she could not resist. Their interest in solving the cases brought them together. He was a reporter looking for stories, and from the moment he met Lidia, he knew that she was a force to be reckoned with. He wrote an article on Lidia that praised her for daring to bring about a change. It was Lidia’s interest in him that made her follow him one night. That was when she discovered that he had another lover. While Lidia did not admit it, she was quite heartbroken when she realized that she was one of his many romantic interests. She had always known that during his time in Paris, he fell in love with a woman named Nicole, who passed away. But when Jacopo was arrested by the police for murdering Maya, the sex worker, she discovered that Nicole was still alive. The woman she saw that night at the barn was Nicole, and he was not professing his love for her; instead, he was helping her and her partner, Louis, flee to Uruguay. Lidia was surprised to find all the secrets that he kept from her, but she managed to prove his innocence in the murder case.
At the end of “The Law According to Lidia Poet,” when it came to choosing between her life in Italy and her career, Lidia chose the latter. She had grown close to her brother and his family, but at the same time, it was not easy for her to accept the rejection of her appeal in the Court of Cassation in Turin. Initially, she was not convinced when Andrea proposed that she leave Italy for New York, but after facing the rejection, she decided to travel to New York to practice law. Unlike the first time, she purposefully wrote a letter to her family, knowing that her life in Italy would be unfulfilling.
While Lidia was preparing to start a new life in New York, when she set foot beyond the gate, she came across countless women who had gathered to show their respect for her. Lidia’s fight against the system inspired those who had started dreaming of a different life. Her family was not there the first time she left home, but this time, Enrico and Jacopo waited to bid her farewell. The love of her family, coupled with the glimmer of hope she had brought into the lives of others, was reason enough for Lidia to stay back and pursue her interest from outside the court. At the age of 65, Lidia was finally accepted into the judiciary. “The Law According to Lidia Poet” reminds the audience of women’s struggles to gain a foothold in the professional world.