By DebbieH 31 Jan 2018 7 min read

Report indicates improvement in diversity at the Bar

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published its annual report on Diversity at the Bar. The report showed a slight improvement overall but highlights that there is still work to be done.

The overall proportion of women at the Bar, including pupils, barristers and practising Queen’s Counsel (QC), has increased by 0.5 percentage points (pp) since December 2016. There is a greater proportion of female pupils than male pupils at 51.7% and the proportion of female QC’s has also increased to 14.8%.

The overall proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) barristers at the Bar has also increased by 0.5pp. However, the proportion of BAME pupils has decreased slightly. The report highlights the difficulty that BAME practitioners seem to be experiencing with progression at the Bar. There is a disparity between the number of BAME barristers overall and BAME QCs (12.7% vs 7.2%).

The report says that the response rate for questions regarding disability was too low to draw reliable conclusions. However, from the data gathered it appears that the percentage of disabled practitioners at the Bar is significantly lower than the percentage of the employed population in the UK that has declared a disability.

Another area where the survey got a low response rate was surrounding education. Only 36.7% of barristers disclosed the type of secondary school they attended. However, the report states, “Even if all the barristers who chose not to respond to this question had gone to state schools, the proportion of barristers who went to fee-paying schools is higher than in the wider population.”

Ewen MacLeod, BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, said: “Equality and diversity at the Bar are priorities for us as a regulator, because the more accessible the profession is for everyone, the more it is able to represent the society it serves. This data shows a steady improvement in gender and ethnic diversity at the Bar, especially in the increase in the number of female QCs, but we are conscious that there is still more that needs to be done to improve diversity within the profession.”



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