Barristers, clerks and all chambers’ employees would be asked questions relevant to the new public sector equality duty – age, race, disability, religion or belief, gender reassignment, sex, pregnancy and maternity and sexual orientation – plus socio-economic background.

Participation would be voluntary and anonymous. Chambers would be required to publish the results and report it to the Bar Standards Board, even where there is no response or the response is “prefer not to say”.

The new duty would apply to all regulated legal services providers.

The LSB believes publishing the results will create competitive pressure among chambers and other providers to take action to increase diversity, and give regulators a clearer picture of levels of diversity and the success or otherwise of diversity initiatives such as the Bar Council’s mentoring and outreach programmes.

LSB Chairman, David Edmonds, said: “Through these measures there will be greater transparency and sharper scrutiny by regulators and consumers based on published data.

“Appropriate policies can then be developed on the basis of the evidence we collect.”
The consultation, “Increasing diversity and social mobility in the legal workforce: transparency and evidence”, closes on 9 March 2011.