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updated on 02 July 2018
The Bar Council is this week celebrating a decade of its flagship social mobility initiative, Bar Placement Week, as well as launching a related online campaign, entitled ‘I am the Bar’.
The placement week pairs sixth-form students from non-traditional backgrounds with practising barristers, offering three days of shadowing in chambers and in court. The students also attend talks by barristers and judges, and receive advocacy training.
Andrew Walker QC, chair of the Bar, said: “There is still a perception that to join the Bar you have to come from a wealthy or privileged background. The 10th anniversary of Bar Placement Week highlights our long-term commitment to challenging that misconception, and to reaching out widely with the aim of inspiring students from all backgrounds to consider a career at the Bar. The Bar wants and needs to attract the best talent from across the country, irrespective of socioeconomic background, and to do so we need to break down barriers to aspiration and to the attainment of students’ full potential. One of the best ways of doing this is to give promising students first-hand experience of the life of a barrister.”
The new online campaign aims to encourage anyone with the necessary talent and potential to pursue a career at the Bar. Walker said: “The ‘I am the Bar’ campaign is designed to show what individuals from all backgrounds can achieve, to highlight the support and encouragement available, and to explain just how many different paths have been followed by today’s barristers, leading to highly successful careers at the Bar of England and Wales.”
Lord Neuberger, the immediate past President of the Supreme Court, whose 2007 inquiry into background of entrants to the Bar prompted the launch of Bar Placement Week, said: “The Bar is a profession dedicated to excellence and to justice. That dedication should not be limited to individual commitment on the part of every practising barrister. It is just as important that it extends to the recruitment of future barristers, and that means enabling people with potential, irrespective of background, ethnic group or gender, to have a real opportunity of considering a career at the Bar.”