The conference came at a time young barristers rose to a variety of challenges in the external environment for legal services, not least pressures on funding and the new regulatory landscape. It also came shortly ahead of the major BBC documentary, Barristers, to be screened this autumn, which will show the reality of life at the Bar.
The Bar is becoming more diverse and accessible, and Lord Neuberger’s 2007 report provides a detailed route map for assuring continued diversity.
Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee, said: ‘The profile of the Young Bar is changing. Slightly more women than men now obtain pupillage, which, while an achievement, does itself present challenge. Measures are needed to help women stay in the profession. At present there is a marked trend for women to leave self-employed practice at around seven years’ call, which is of particular concern.
The young Bar reflects the future of the Bar and its potential as providers of specialist advocacy and advisory services. That is why we are especially concerned at the difficulties of making a living from a publicly funded practice.
It is discouraging that those entering the profession with the intention of those least able to help themselves are being deterred from entering such fields as housing, family and crime. If this trend continues, eventually only those for whom remuneration is not a consideration and those cannot find better paying private work will be left doing legal aid work. This cannot be in the interests of justice and will result in a two tier justice system.’