On the menu is a list of ten “positive action steps” which chambers can take. They include that chambers take part in the Bar Council/Social Mobility Foundation Bar Placement scheme which places students (aged 17 years) from underprivileged backgrounds in chambers for one week, usually in July.
COMBAR recommends that chambers take part in the Black Lawyers’ Directory ‘Today’s Children Tomorrow’s Lawyers’, which works with schoolchildren, and “Legal Launch Pad”, which works with ethnic minority law and non-law students. Both of these schemes are supported by City law firms. Further information can be found online at www.onlinebld.com.
It suggests that chambers reach out to schoolchildren through participation in schemes such as the Inner Temple Schools Project or similar privately organised schemes with schools, or send speakers into schools to talk about life at the Bar. University visits such as those organised by COMBAR or the Bar Council to non-Oxbridge Universities are recommended.
Chambers could publish on their website their maternity and paternity policies and fair access to work policies, and their diversity statistics relating to pupillage and tenancy decisions. Keeping records on diversity would allow them to monitor and review their policies. Finally, COMBAR suggests that chambers encourage their barristers and clerks to attend diversity training, including training in managing parental leave and career breaks.
Hannah Brown, Chair of COMBAR’s Equality and Diversity Committee, said: “We would encourage chambers to get in touch with COMBAR’s Equality and Diversity Committee. Any queries or contributions would be welcome. Its not an exhaustive list so we welcome any contributions.” These can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.