Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference; chair’s speech emphasises “irrepressibility” of the profession

At the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference on Saturday, chair of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, spoke to over 500 guests, including legal luminaries such as Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, Professor Richard Susskind OBE and Lady Justice Hallet.

One of his main points was to emphasise the irrepressible nature of the Bar, despite constant suggestions to the contrary. He said: “Our demise has been prophesied since I was called 31 years ago, since which time we have tripled in size. Why? Because you can’t keep a good idea down. The idea of independent referral advice and representation from fearless individuals who compete for excellence, is an idea that not only refuses to die, but gains traction wherever it is given the chance. It is highly prized, here and abroad, and rightly so.”

He went on to talk about diversity, warning that the pace of change in the profession has been “too slow” and said that predecessors had “underestimated the conscious effort and depth of change that is required”. He also talked on the morale of the judiciary and the impact that technology is having on the Bar: “We have taken to digital working much more readily than many, with their homely but outmoded Rumpolian caricatures, believed possible.”

He spoke also of his fears for the shrinking junior end of the Bar: “We are currently losing young barristers who see how hard it will be to pay back the debts they incur in training. Although the research is incomplete, most believe the lack of confidence in public funding is partly what has caused chambers to recruit fewer junior members.”

Langdon’s full speech is available here.

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