The events closely followed the publication of Equally Professional: Like minds on different journeys, published by the Professional Associations Research Network and Equality and Human Rights Commission. The report celebrates the work of Equally Professional, a network of professional bodies (including the Bar Council) committed to promoting equality and diversity in and through their memberships, and thereby widening access and opportunity.

‘How to get to the Bar’, a conference for Sixth Form Students interested in becoming a barrister was held on Saturday 10 July 2010 at St Philips Chambers, in Birmingham. The conference was jointly arranged by the Bar Council, Aimhigher and St Philips. It was aimed at 80 bright Year 12 students, primarily from state schools and colleges in and around Birmingham, who have a genuine interest in becoming a lawyer and are interested in finding out about a law degree and the work of barristers.

The Bar Placement Scheme, which ran for its fourth successive year from Monday 12 July – Friday 16 July, in conjunction with the Social Mobility Foundation, gave 48 students from the maintained sector the opportunity to gain a broad insight into the day-to-day life of a barrister and an understanding of the legal profession. The scheme is different from more traditional work experience and encourages as much exposure as possible to practical tasks. As well as meeting a range of legal professionals, the week included:

  • Work shadowing a barrister;
  • A talk by His Honour Judge Zeidman QC, Resident Judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court, and observing a trial;
  • An advocacy training session;
  • An essay competition with three prizes to be won; and
  • A reception, hosted by the Chairman of the Bar, Nicholas Green QC, to review the week.

Both the conference and the Bar Placement Scheme form part of the Bar Council’s much wider programme of activities to make the Bar as accessible as possible to any applicant with the talent to succeed.

Speaking on the day, Nicholas Green QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said:

“I am delighted to play such an active role in the Bar’s commitment to access to the profession and to increasing social mobility. Both the ‘How to Get to the Bar’ conference and the Bar Placement Scheme will give me, and other members of the Bar, the opportunity to meet with and engage a broad range of bright and talented young students. We are delighted once again to be associated with the Social Mobility Foundation, which does so much important and influential work to shape the lives of extremely capable A-level students.

In particular, in the wake of Lord Neuberger’s report on entry to the Bar in 2007, the Bar Council has dedicated itself to meeting the
challenges his working group set the profession. Under the guidance of David Pittaway QC, a dedicated Bar Council committee works tirelessly throughout the year to promote new initiatives and events and is helping to maintain and improve the profession’s diverse and high quality intake.”

David Johnston, CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation, added: “The Social Mobility Foundation is delighted to once again be running the Bar Placement week with the Bar Council. It is essential for a charity such as our own that we have the buy-in of professions that our young people aspire to enter; the commitment of the Bar Council and so many participating chambers to the week is key to its success and underlines the importance the Bar places on demystifying the profession for less privileged students.”