Our Race Equality Taskforce was formed in June 2019, as a key outcome of our 2018 event, “Heads Above the Parapet: How can we improve Race Equality at the Bar?” The Taskforce supports the delivery of our statutory objectives, by advising us on the development of strategy, policy and activity to improve race equality outcomes in the profession[1].

Five key drivers underpin the Taskforce and its work:

  • Our latest annual Diversity at the Bar report, which reveals that although the representation of BAME barristers continues to improve, progress is slow and there the proportion of BAME barristers generally declines at higher levels of seniority.
  • Our “Differential Attainment at BPTC and Pupillage” research and accompanying qualitative research, “Barriers to Training for the Bar”, which show that aspiring BAME barristers face additional barriers in entering the profession compared to their white counterparts.
  • Our “Women at the Bar” survey and the Bar Council “Barristers’ Working Lives” research, which suggests that BAME barristers are more likely to experience bullying, discrimination and harassment than their white counterparts.
  • Our “2019 Risk Outlook”, which cites evidence to suggest that BAME barristers, in general, are likely to earn less on average than white barristers.

Reflecting our determination to convert the recommendations from “Heads Above the Parapet: How can we improve Race Equality at the Bar?” the Taskforce agreed an action plan shortly after being formed. In implementing that plan, the Taskforce has played an important role in the development of our Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2020 to 2022 and the ongoing equality impact assessment of our Equality Rules. The Taskforce has also produced case studies about good practice at the Bar. By shining a light on some of the initiatives that have been set up to address barriers to race equality, we hope to drive innovation and meaningful change in the wider profession, and highlight the importance of inclusive cultures.

The Taskforce will continue to promote greater visibility of BAME role models and greater collaboration on the race equality agenda.

Case Studies

Case Study one

Case Study two

Biographies

Dr Leslie Thomas QC

Barrister Member, The Bar Standards Board

Leslie Thomas QC was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2014. A human rights practitioner, Leslie specialises in claims against the police, public authorities and corporate bodies. He is also a specialist in inquests and public inquiries. He is currently an independent member on the Standards Committee for public life for Lewisham Council. In 2016, Leslie won the Legal Aid Lawyers' (LALY) Award for work on the Hillsborough case and in 2017, he won the UK Legal Diversity Lifetime achievement award

Paul Stanley QC

Barrister, Essex Court Chambers

Paul Stanley was called to the Bar in 1993, and was appointed QC in 2010. He practices in commercial law, has been a pupil-supervisor and is equality and diversity officer at Essex Court Chambers. He is a bencher of the Middle Temple. He has a particular interest in education and training, and is a governor of the Inns of Court College of Advocacy and director of the South Eastern Circuit Advanced Advocacy course.

Sara Ibrahim

Barrister, 3 Hare Court

Sara Ibrahim is a barrister at 3 Hare Court specialising in employment and commercial law and is listed in the Legal 500. Sara is an equalities campaigner including on the issue of race and is on the panel of counsel for the Commission of Equality and Human Rights. She co-chairs a sub-committee on Social Mobility for Lincoln’s Inn. Additionally, she is a former Vice Chair of the Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest think tank.

Marcia Shekerdemian QC

Barrister, Wilberforce Chambers

Marcia Shekerdemian QC (Wilberforce Chambers) is a leading practitioner in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious insolvency, company and partnership law as well as commercial litigation. Her work encompasses both domestic and international matters.

Chambers UK and The Legal 500 have recommended her for many years in commercial litigation, company and insolvency. Chambers UK also ranks her for commercial chancery work, noting in addition her expertise in property related litigation. Marcia sits as a deputy judge of the Insolvency and Companies Court. She was Chair of the Equality & Diversity Sub-Committee of the Chancery Bar Association between 2016-2019.

[1] The Taskforce is an advisory body, established under paragraph 14(3) of the Constitution of the BSB.