The BSB’s Disability Taskforce was formed in July 2021, as a part of our commitment to promoting equality and diversity at the Bar, with disability being a key area of focus. This commitment has now been reaffirmed through the BSB’s membership of the Business Disability Forum.

The Taskforce will be holding its official launch on 15 September 2022. The event will be an opportunity to hear from disabled barristers about their experiences. Attendees will hear how these barristers have navigated their careers, including the barriers that they have faced and what factors have helped them to progress. It will also be an opportunity to learn about disability inclusion best practice across the profession. Further information on how to register for this event can be found on our website.

The BSB believes that the Bar must reflect the society which it serves and harness diverse talent effectively. A Bar which comprises diverse lived experiences and perspectives will strengthen the quality of service provided. Diverse teams bring better problem solving, more creativity and innovation and ultimately are better placed to serve the public. Creating a more inclusive culture will help to ensure that people from the widest possible talent pool are able to join the profession and progress successfully.

The Taskforce is intended to be a practical, action-orientated taskforce that identifies priorities for the Bar and BSB in enabling disability inclusion and in creating or signposting to practical tools to support this.

The Taskforce will advise the BSB on:

  • how regulatory tools can be used to improve conditions for people with disabilities at the Bar;
  • reviewing and improving routes into the Bar, making it a more accessible and inclusive profession;
  • improving the culture at the Bar to strengthen the retention of disabled barristers; and
  • ensuring that the BSB is setting an example of best practice as an inclusive employer for people with disabilities.

Disability Taskforce Biographies

Dr Sarabajaya Kumar

Sarabajaya joined UCL’s Department of Political Science in 2010 from the University of Oxford, having previously held Fellowship and Faculty roles at the London School of Economics and The Open University.

She teaches postgraduate students about the Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector, and also Leadership. Her research interests are in Accountability, Governance, Ethical Leadership, Intersectionality, and Equality. She is a lead researcher for three research projects: 'Lived experiences of disabled university students during the Covid-19 pandemic', with Professor Yamamoto, Osaka University; 'Coronavirus intersectionalities of disabled and minoritised groups', with Professor Carol Rivas, UCL; and ‘Ableism and the labour market’ with Associate Professor Colin Provost, UCL.

Sarabajaya leads her own consultancy, and is a Director of Impatience which hosts innovative public benefit projects.

Active in civil society and politics, she has co-founded several non-profit organisations. Currently, she is a member of the Policy Advisory Committee of the Women’s Budget Group, a Senior Independent Trustee of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and a steering committee member for both the Centenary Action Group, and the Women’s Equality Party.

Sarabajaya was supported by Activate Collective to contest the 2021 GLA election for the Women’s Equality Party. She was one of only 11 women selected nationally, and the only disabled candidate.

Mark Henderson

Mark practices at Doughty Street Chambers. Specialising in media, public and human rights law, he has acted in many leading cases over the last 25 years. Clients have included the Leader of the Opposition and bereaved, survivors and residents in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. He is a former Legal Aid Barrister of the Year.

He acquired multiple disabilities in 2018, including a complete spinal cord injury and hearing impairment. Returning to practice as a full-time wheelchair user has shaped his understanding of the structural obstacles and systemic discrimination faced by disabled practitioners.

Mark sits on the Bar Council Disability Panel and the RCJ Accessibility Project Board, which brings together the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS, along with the judiciary and professional and lay court users.

He chairs Doughty Street’s Disability Committee, and along with staff, he has led work to achieve Disability Confident Employer accreditation.

He is Vice Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association and chairs the committee overseeing its services, advocacy, and campaigning on paralysis issues and on disability rights. He is also involved in disability rights in the LGBTQ community through ParaPride.

Read more on Mark’s Chambers’ website.

Mary Griffiths Clarke

Mary spent the formative part of her career working as a public sector project change manager. She strategically advised ministers at the Ministry of Justice before working to deliver The Economic Plan for London and 2012 Olympics, leading on a £100m business support initiative before moving into consulting for HM Treasury.

After continuing her education at Central Saint Martins and The National Film and Television School, Mary worked as the leading digital producer for moving image projects in a bicameral position for the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Mary is passionate about social justice, human rights and community cohesion. She served as Equalities board member for the GLA and as a director of Lambeth Law Centre for several years.

With a keen eye for innovation and purposeful projects Mary is delighted to join the Bar Standards Board Disability Taskforce.

Diane Lightfoot

Diane Lightfoot is CEO of Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit membership organisation that supports businesses to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers. Business Disability Forum’s 450+ members employ c.20% of the UK workforce and 8 million people worldwide. They range from FTSE 100 companies and central Government departments to technology and construction companies, retailers and public services bodies.

Diane is co-Chair of the Disability Charities Consortium and a member of the Disability Confident Business Leaders Group. She is a member of the Steering Group for the Global Business Disability Network, hosted by the ILO and is passionate about the role of good work in transforming people’s lives.

Daniel Holt

Daniel is a future Pupil Barrister at 39 Essex Chambers. He is also the Founding Chair of the Association of Disabled Lawyers (‘ADL’), which was the first independent, pan-profession organisation of people working in and studying law with impairments and physical and mental health conditions. The ADL is a community and network raising awareness of the fact that disabled people and people with health conditions can study and practice law. It also champions the welfare and rights of disabled people and people with health conditions in wider society. It achieves its aims through engagement, events, campaigning and research. He is also a committee member of AllBar, an organisation of disabled barristers.

Educated in special needs schools, Daniel became a seasoned disability rights activist. He has engaged with the Bar Standards Board, Legal Services Board, Solicitors Regulatory Authority, and many other organisations to help improve the experiences of lawyers and students with health conditions. He was a Disability Rights UK Trustee until 31st December 2019 when his second term came to an end. Daniel was ‘highly commended’ at the European Diversity Awards 2018 and is a recipient of Middle Temple’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Award, Blackstone Exhibition Award and Certificate of Honour. He had previously received a Campaign of the Year Award for his work on improving accessibility.

Daniel has a long-standing participation in pro bono cases and has volunteered with Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre, Hackney Community Law Centre, and the Free Representation Unit. He has a particular interest in social security cases and relishes helping those in vulnerable situations to access support. He completed an LLM in Clinical Legal Education with Distinction and attained 92% in his dissertation reflecting upon his cases.

Playing wheelchair football is a strong passion held by Daniel. He has played for 12 years and is currently plays for Greenwich PFC and Sale United PFC. He is also keen on fitness and attends Muscleworks gym. He is also a very proud Dad to his cat, Rio.

Meera Roy-Chowdhury

Policy Manager, Equality and Access to Justice, Bar Standards Board

Shadae Cazeau

Head of Equality and Access to Justice,Bar Standards Board

Mark Neale

Director General, Bar Standards Board

Mark Neale has had a long career of public service. From 2010, he led the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for nine years, transforming its capability in the wake of the financial crisis to protect consumers in the event of major failures, and putting many of its services online. Before the FSCS, Mark was a civil servant in both policy and delivery roles. This culminated in Director General roles in both The Home Office where he was responsible for counter-terrorism, organised crime and international work from 2002 to 2005, and in HM Treasury where he was the Managing Director for Budget, Tax and Welfare between 2005 and 2010. Mark has also worked as a civil servant on education, employment and welfare issues.

Declarations of interest:

The Lending Standards Board – Non Executive Director

Froebel Trust –  Chair

Emily Broad

Being disabled at the Bar: the regulator’s perspective on disability inclusion and supporting disabled talent, 15 September 2022, 6.00pm to 8.30pm

Our Disability Taskforce is holding an event on Thursday 15 September 2022 between 6pm to 8.30pm. The event will be held at 7 Bedford Row,
London, WC1R 4BS.

The Taskforce will share their vision on how regulation might play a part in supporting a more disability aware and inclusive profession. The event will be an opportunity to hear about the successes and challenges faced by disabled barristers across the profession.

During the event we will be premiering a short film commissioned by the Taskforce, filmed by Taskforce member Mary Griffiths-Clark, which tells the stories of disabled people at different stages of their legal careers. The film is intended to be used as a talking point and encourage viewers to think about how they might increase the inclusion and retention of disabled people at the Bar.

We will also be joined by a combination of speakers including practising and unregistered disabled barristers. Speakers include:

  • Haleemah Farooq;
  • Daniel Holt;
  • Mark Henderson; and
  • Christina Warner.

Please register for a free ticket via this form.

If you require any adjustments or accessibility requirements to attend the event please contact equality@barstandardsboard.org.uk.