24 August 2019

BSB leads debate about race equality at the Bar

Last month we published a report of the event we hosted in February to consider how to improve race equality at the Bar.

The event, called "Heads Above the Parapet: How can we improve Race Equality at the Bar?", was attended by over 50 delegates including practising barristers, other legal practitioners, educators, race equality organisations, diversity experts and senior managers and Board members from the BSB. Guest speakers, Sara Ibrahim from 3 Hare Court and Dr Leslie Thomas QC from Garden Court Chambers, provided interesting perspectives on the issues of race equality.

The focus of the event was to identify the barriers for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people accessing and progressing through a career at the Bar, and to consider how best to remove these barriers. Delegates suggested a range of possible solutions which have been broadly categorised as follows:

  • greater transparency around recruitment of pupils and barristers;
  • greater enforcement, direction and support from us to tackle race inequality, for example by holding chambers to account if they are not enforcing diversity policies;
  • greater visibility of BAME role models at the Bar;
  • development of an equality and diversity "kite mark" to recognise good practice; and
  • continued collaboration within and beyond the profession and with race equality organisations.

We intend to consider all of the proposals put forward during the event and are developing a series of recommendations which we hope to publish soon.

The report of the event can be found on our website and videos from the event can be viewed online.