Diversity at Bar improves slightly, but much work still to be done

updated on 29 January 2018

The Bar Standards Board has today published its annual report into Diversity at the Bar. Headline stats include the following:

  • Just 12.7% of practising barristers are black and minority ethnic (BAME), although this is an increase of 0.5% since December 2016.
  • Men represent 62.8% of practising barristers, with women representing 37%. Again, this is an increase of 0.5%.
  • The proportion of female QCs has increased, from 13.7% in December 2016 to 14.8% in December 2017.
  • The gender and ethnic diversity of pupil barristers is roughly in line with the national population; 51.7% of pupils are female and 16.1% are BAME.

Notably, response rates for questions on socioeconomic background were too low (around 34%) to provide any conclusive data. However, based on the responses that were received, there was a clear indication that a disproportionately high percentage attended a fee-paying secondary school.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: "Equality and diversity at the Bar are priorities for us as a regulator, because the more accessible the profession is for everyone, the more it is able to represent the society it serves. This data shows a steady improvement in gender and ethnic diversity at the Bar, especially in the increase in the number of female QCs, but we are conscious that there is more that needs to be done to improve diversity within the profession. We urge all barristers to complete the diversity data questions when renewing their practising certificates for the year ahead. This will enable us to act on accurate evidence to improve diversity."