Bar to extend social mobility work

The Bar will “redouble” its efforts to end elitism in the profession, the Chairman of the Bar Council has promised.


Desmond Browne QC said: “Our work with the Inns of Court, the Specialist Bar Associations, and the circuits has played an important part in the steady increase in diversity at the Bar. But we are not complacent.”

The Bar is currently considering how to extend its annual placement scheme, in which 46 students spent time in sets of chambers and took part in a mock trial this year. Other initiatives include student bursaries, mentoring and schools visits.

Desmond Browne QC made the comments before the Cabinet Office published its report, Unleashing Aspiration, which found that three-quarters of the judiciary and more than half of the legal profession went to independent schools, which are attended by just seven per cent of the population.

Alan Milburn MP, who chaired the report panel, said that a failure to address the current “closed shop” mentality will mean that not only will the next talented generation miss out on social mobility; the UK will also face a skills deficit in professional services.
Recommendations included a “raising expectations” scheme to provide mentoring and work programmes.

The panel was commissioned by Gordon Brown in January 2009 to review the processes governing recruitment into the professions and to make recommendations to improve access.

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