Equality & Diversity

Spotlight On 

For our first spotlight, each member of the Bar Council's Equality & Diversity (E&D) team is sharing their top three picks of work from the last year, and looking ahead to the next.

Sam Mercer, Head of Policy: Equality, Diversity & CSR, lists hers:

  • E&D training: Over the last year we've expanded our training offer to chambers (Introduction to E&D, Advanced E&D, Fair Recruitment and Sexual Harassment). Take up from chambers across the country has provided a great opportunity to meet members of the Bar, find out about live E&D issues and provide practical support and advice. Details of E&D training are here

  • Wellbeing at the Bar (Phase 2): In Autumn we launched a new range of support including a new section for post-Call students and pupils; suicide and bereavement resources; and our Certificate of Recognition - we had 30+ applications, creating a bank of ideas for those looking to introduce wellbeing in their organisations. And the great news: the programme has been shortlisted for a LexisNexis Award this Spring. 

  • Shared Parental Leave (SPL): Having successfully lobbied the BSB to change the rules on parental leave last year, we've been developing a guide for chambers on amending policies and planning an EDO Network session to assist the Bar in compliance; the SPL guidance is out this month and the EDO troubleshooting session will be held in early March 2018 (chambers' parental leave policies need to be compliant by October 2018).

Benjamin Burns, Policy Analyst: Education & Training, shares his:

  • Careers Outreach Activity: Bar Placement Week (July 2017) was a resounding success, with 58 students from non-traditional backgrounds and 55 chambers participating in the London event.27 students and 25 chambers will participate in Bar Placement Week North from 13-21 February 2018. Other upcoming events include ' How to become a barrister' (3 March) and the Citizenship Foundation Bar Mock Trials National Final (24 March). 

  • Pupillage Gateway & Fair: A record 100 chambers are recruiting for pupillage via the current round of the Pupillage Gateway. The application window is open now, closing on 7 February 2018. Demonstrating our commitment to a fair, transparent and rigorous recruitment system for the Bar, we have responded to feedback by enabling chambers to tailor the questions to their needs and/or practice areas. As for the Pupillage Fair, it will be held this year on Saturday 27 October - save the date and get in touch! We're committed to improving the Fair year on year, thereby improving fair access to the profession. To find out more, contact pupillagefair@barcouncil.org.uk

  • Future Bar Training: The Bar Council's response to the 'BSB Consultation on Future Bar Training' may be found here. This was drafted by members of the Education and Training Committee, the Employed Bar Committee, and the Young Barristers' Committee; it represents members of the employed and self-employed Bar, all levels of seniority, and a range of circuits and practice areas. The response of COIC, on behalf of the four Inns of court, may be found here.  

We are grateful to COIC and the Inns of Court for their support in much of our outreach work.  

Onyeka Onyekwelu, Policy Analyst:Equality & Diversity(part-time), gives hers:

  • Young Bar research: As highlighted by the Young Barristers' Committee (YBC) Chair for 2017 in his address at the #OneBar17 Conference, the "number of barristers under 5 years' call shrank [by] 30% from 2005-2015". This is alarming, considering that the profession itself has almost doubled in under 30 years. As the YBC Executive, I am working with Sam Mercer to explore and investigate the reasons for this decline. This research is still in development, but we hope there will be quantitative secondary research undertaken in-house and focus groups in London and on Circuit in 2018. 

  • Bar Mentoring Service: The Bar Council's Bar Mentoring Service is an umbrella service consisting of different mentoring schemes designed to meet different needs. I manage the Service's three main schemes for students hoping to become Barristers ( e-Mentoring), Barristers hoping to maintain or return to a good practice ( Maternity Mentoring), and Barristers seeking to progress their careers ( Silk & Judicial Mentoring). I am currently reviewing each scheme to ensure that it has met the needs of past users and implement suggested improvements for 2018. 

  • Pro Bono and Charity efforts at the Bar: Although it seems far off, I am already planning and coordinating #TeamBarCouncil for London Legal Walk 2018. Last year, we raised a grand total of £1,619.21 and I have every intention of exceeding that in 2018. Aside from this, I also sit on the National Pro Bono Week planning board, along with other legal bodies. Following the extension of insurance cover for Employed Barristers undertaking pro bono work in 2017, we are hoping to highlight the pro bono and access to justice efforts made by barristers in 2018 in a stand-alone event in Pro Bono Week 2018.

Much of this important work by the Bar Council's Policy Team would not be possible without funding from the Bar Representation Fee (BRF), a £8.34 per month subscription fee.