We take very seriously our commitment to encouraging both equality and diversity in chambers and at the Bar generally, in recognition of the need for the profession to be representative of society as a whole. We aim to recruit from as wide a talent pool as possible, and indeed nearly half of our new tenants in the last five years have been women and a significant proportion of our members are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds or attended state schools.
One of the biggest problems at the Bar is the lack of representation of those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and we take positive action to address this. For example, we offer assessed mini-pupillages to socio-economically disadvantaged applicants and guarantee a first-round interview for pupillage to those who do well. We also have an outreach programme, led by Sarabjit Singh, in which we have partnered with the Sutton Trust to work with 16-18 year olds from less advantaged backgrounds with the aim of encouraging them to consider the Bar as a career option.
We are conscious of the financial difficulties entrants to the Bar can face and we have adopted a number of measures to tackle this problem. Our assessed mini-pupillages and pupillages are generously funded and we support our most junior tenants through the provision of interest-free loans and the waiver of chambers’ contribution and rent payments.
As part of our efforts to address the issue of the large drop-out rate at the Bar of women of 10-15+ years’ call, we have a policy designed to ensure that we retain members who return from maternity or paternity leave. They do not pay any rent whilst they are on leave and neither do they have to pay contributions or rent for a certain period when they return. Moreover, our clerks are active in supporting returning parents, both in terms of generating work and being flexible with working practices.
We promote a culture within chambers where any issues concerning equality and diversity can be freely raised by members or staff. Through our active E&D committee and our formal and informal mentoring schemes, we encourage the discussion of such issues so that we can monitor and address any concerns as early as possible. We are proud to consider ourselves not as a chambers committed to E&D merely ‘on paper’, but committed to E&D as part of our ‘DNA’ and in everything we do in practice.
New tenants in London in last 5 years
- Total: 17
- Women: 47%
- BAME: 12%
London silks overall
- Total: 24
- Women: 25% (compared to 13% at the Bar generally)
- BAME: 12.5% (compared to 6% at the Bar generally)
London juniors overall
- Total: 45
- Women: 33%
- BAME: 13%
To view our most recent published statistics, please download our 2015 Diversity Data.