Five sets of chambers that specialise in planning, property and public law – Cornerstone Barristers, Field Court Chambers, FTB Chambers, Kings Chambers and Landmark Chambers – have set up a mentoring scheme for underrepresented groups at the Bar.
The scheme, which is supported by the Planning and Environment Bar Association, will run from October 2021 to June 2022 and aims to provide advice and guidance to suitable candidates on the process of becoming a barrister.
Cornerstone Barristers said: “Here at Cornerstone, we recognise the importance of driving equality and diversity in the Bar and hope this Mentoring Scheme can lay the foundations to creating a profession that is representative of all and for all. Introducing those from a non-traditional background into the profession.”
The scheme was inspired by a similar scheme launched by a collection of commercial sets.
Successful applicants will be offered one-to-one meetings with a mentor, a workshop on applications for pupillage and (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) one or more social events with mentors and other mentees.
Robin Green of Cornerstone Barristers, who has collaborated with Field Court Chambers, FTB Chambers, Kings Chambers and Landmark Chambers to facilitate those wishing to pursue a career in planning, property and public law, said: "The Bar should be open to all who have the requisite ability, regardless of socio-economic status. This belief pushed me to create a programme that will not only drive equality, but support those wishing to further a career at the Bar.
"We hope that the mentoring scheme will help talented individuals who might not think the Bar is for them to understand what the Bar has to offer and how to become a barrister, whilst assisting in the application process."
Jared Norman of Field Court Chambers said: “We’re delighted to be part of this initiative. It’s important we encourage more students from under-represented groups to consider careers as barristers so the Bar better reflects the diversity of society as a whole”.
Melissa Murphy of Francis Taylor Building said: “The Bar does not properly reflect the society in which we operate. Practical steps need to be taken in order to widen access, to address that issue. This mentoring scheme for under-represented groups at the Bar is one such practical step. The application process will open shortly and we all look forward to establishing new mentor/mentee relationships and, in turn, to widening access to the Bar.”
Andrew Byass of Landmark Chambers said: “We firmly believe that widening access to the Bar can only serve to drive excellence. This is one of many steps that we are taking which we hope will encourage anyone with the requisite ability, no matter their background, to consider a career at the Bar, and which will in turn provide practical support and assistance.”
Sam Karim QC of Kings Chambers said: “This is a hugely exciting initiative. The Bar should represent the community it serves, and therefore it is vital that we at least attempt to remove some of the potential barriers students from under-represented groups may face.”