This year will be crucial for the Young Bar. Indeed, following the periods of uncertainty generated by COVID-19, and the days of action surrounding criminal legal aid fees, I am determined that 2023 will be our year.

As incoming Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC), I would like to thank the immediate past Chair, Michael Polak for his leadership and for building a strong foundation on which we can develop, and the previous Chairs, Joanne Kane and Katherine Duncan for their steadfast leadership throughout the COVID years.

I am proud to be part of this longstanding tradition and take heart in the fact that the 2023 Chair of the Bar is a former YBC Chair. Amrit Dhanoa, Vice Chair of the YBC this year, also brings an impressive set of skills and experience, and I very much look forward to working with her to represent barristers in their first seven years of practice.

We have several priorities this year: firstly, raising the visibility of the YBC and of the Young Bar. When I volunteered at last year’s Pupillage Fair, I was struck by how many students were interested in what the YBC did, but equally didn’t know we existed. It is imperative that this changes. The next generation should know that we are their voice, and that we are on the front lines, advocating for them.

I am committed to working with stakeholders, including the Specialist Bar Associations and Circuit Leaders, to ensure the needs of young barristers are understood, particularly when it comes to building a robust and sustainable practice.

Secondly, we will deliver this year’s Anglo-Dutch Exchange in London. We revived the Exchange last year, with a small group of English and Welsh barristers visiting the Netherlands to learn about their legal culture. The hospitality we received was incredible, and we made some real connections. It is only fair that we repay the favour – but not only that, these Exchange programmes represent a real opportunity for young barristers to broaden their professional horizons, meet new practitioners, and open new workstreams.

Thirdly, the YBC will be heavily involved in the Bar Council’s work on stamping out bullying and harassment. Reports of misconduct are on the rise and new practitioners often bear the brunt. Women and people of colour experience higher levels of discrimination and harassment and it is paramount that all instances of bullying are dealt with, whether inter-Bar or judicial. Talk to Spot, the anonymous reporting tool, is available for anyone who needs it.

Fourth, the climate crisis. As a member of the Climate Crisis Working Group, I will continue to advocate for sustainable policies across the Bar and to represent the views of young barristers on this issue, which represents a huge threat to our way of life and the planet we live on.

Fifth, fees. This remains a challenge, particularly for young barristers doing legally aided work. The YBC will continue the fight by publishing new, up-to-date reporting, getting to the heart of this problem that practitioners face day in, day out.

I am honoured to represent the Young Bar and look forward to working with you all to meet the challenges the profession continues to face. I hope to meet many of you in person and online this year.