• Cherie Booth QC to chair College of Law’s 'Diversity at the Bar' debate

  • 3 February 2012

  • The College of Law is to hold a debate on why the Bar has to change to increase diversity, to be chaired by College alumna Cherie Booth QC.

    The ‘Diversity at the Bar’ event takes place on Tuesday, February 21 in front of an invited audience and will be streamed live via the College’s Facebook page to allow everyone to follow the debate.

    Joining Ms Booth on the panel will be Dr Vanessa Davies, Director of the Bar Standards Board, Timothy Dutton QC, former chair of the Bar Council and Head of Fountain Court Chambers, Jacqueline Cheltenham, Head of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at The College of Law, and Rachel Harris, the College’s Director of Employability.

    Ms Booth will outline her views on diversity at the Bar and her expectations for the future before the panel takes questions from the audience made up of current and prospective Bar students and members of the Bar.

    She said: “Now more than ever it is important that we continue to build on the progress towards diversity that the Bar has made since I was called in 1976, so as to ensure that the profession and the legal system are seen to reflect the diversity of experience in 21st century Britain.”

    The event follows the recent publication by the Bar Standards Board and The Bar Council of their latest Bar Barometer report, which outlines trends in the profile of the Bar and provides a snapshot of diversity in the profession.

    According to the report, while 53 per cent of students who undertook the BPTC in 2009/10 were women just 34.8 per cent of the practising profession in 2010 were female. Of those barristers practising as Queen’s Counsel in 2010 only 10.9 per cent were women and 4.8 per cent were from a black and minority ethnic group (BME).

    The report also investigated the socio-economic background of those undertaking pupillages in 2009/10 to qualify as practising barristers. It found that 35 per cent of pupils attended fee-paying schools, compared with seven per cent of the overall secondary education sector, 23 per cent attended Oxbridge universities, compared with 1.9 per cent of students in England and Wales in the 2009/10 academic year, and 55 per cent came from a professional background.

    Professor Nigel Savage, Chief Executive of The College of Law, said: “The College is a firm supporter of diversity in legal education and we take our responsibility to widen access to the legal profession very seriously. It is in the interests of the application of justice in this country that the Bar is open to all and reflects the diversity of the community that it serves.

    “The College is keen to explore these issues through our forthcoming event and work with the Bar to help ensure that its desire to be a diverse and representative profession is realised. All of the audience places were snapped up within 24 hours of sending out the invitation so it should be a lively discussion."

    The debate begins at 6.45pm and can be viewed via the College’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/collegeoflaw.

    More details are available at   http://www.facebook.com/events/228892307194923