With the theme ‘Future-proofing the Bar’, this year’s Bar and Young Bar Conference programme will feature leaders, experts, chambers’ representatives and voices from a range of practice areas and specialist subjects. The event will cover current hot topics for the Bar – the 2023 vision for justice, fixing the broken system, creating a financially sustainable chambers, career development, the rule of law, secret courts and countering climate threats to the planet.

Guest speakers will include the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, Eleanor Fairfield from the National Cyber Security Centre, and Fiona Rutherford, Chief Executive of the charity JUSTICE.

‘Threats to the Rule of Law in 2022 and beyond’ takes place on Saturday and will be chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC with panel speakers including Professor Conor Gearty KC, Valentyn Gvozdiy of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, and Mikołaj Pietrzak, Dean of the Warsaw Bar Association of Advocates. The Bar Council is delighted to host Bar leaders from Eastern Europe who will be able to shed light on the many challenges they face both at work and in society.

‘Secret Courts, Secret Justice’ will be the topic of Saturday afternoon’s debate, chaired by Dorothy Byrne who has previously served as Channel 4’s Editor at Large. The panel, including Ruth Kirby KC, Gavin Millar KC and The Guardian’s Director of Editorial Legal Services Gill Phillips, will explore the impact of an increasingly closed system on government accountability and the search for truth, considering what reforms might help to foster and maintain sufficient checks and balances.

In ‘Climate leadership and influence at the Bar’ on Saturday, delegates will have the chance to find out how every individual at the Bar can make a difference. The panel will be made up of practitioners involved in the Bar Council’s work on the climate crisis, and speakers include barristers Estelle Dehon KC, Mike Harwood and Nina Pindham. The session is designed to facilitate a discussion that enables members of the Bar to have conversations with their own chambers or employer and reflect on their own practice area.

Issues of interest to the Young Bar will be the focus of the Friday evening sessions. Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee, Michael Polak, will moderate the panel discussion ‘Building your practice: Opportunities for the Young Bar’. The session will cover what young barristers might need in their first years of practice to set themselves up for a healthy career. Sir Jonathan Jones KCB KC, who resigned over the government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, will be part of the panel alongside Lucy Burrows, Silks Team Leader at 3VB, and barristers Grace Cheng and Aaqib Javed.

The conference programme has been designed to bring the profession together as one Bar and is tailor-made to accommodate different types of attendance: three days of online sessions, some in-person sessions at the Bar Council, and a full Saturday programme in-person at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Holborn. For the events from Wednesday to Friday each session can be booked separately, and day tickets are available for Saturday. The Bar Council hopes to see lots of you there. In-person delegates on Saturday will be able to take full advantage of the many networking opportunities.

Book now: To find out more, click here to see the full programme and buy your tickets.