Equality and Diversity

The Bar Council works to ensure the profession is “of all, and for all”.  Combar supports that work to ensure that the Commercial Bar is similarly “of all, and for all”.  The E&D sub-committee was set up in 2005 to promote equality and diversity and to ensure that Combar members are kept up to date with the latest regulatory requirements.

The E&D sub-Committee is made up of barristers (self-employed and employed) from a range of Combar chambers and individuals.  Each member has a portfolio they lead work on.  They work closely with Combar’s Executive who also undertake projects aimed at equality and diversity. 

In addition to keeping up to date with the latest regulatory requirements the sub-committee focuses on tackling barriers to access, retention and progression within the profession.  In carrying out that work they work with the Bar Council, other Specialist Bar Associations (“SBAs”), FreeBar and other legal organisations.

In relation to access their aim is to achieve an ever more diverse range of individuals entering the profession.  For this to happen the sub-committee seeks to encourage a wider range of individuals to apply to commercial sets for pupillage.  Projects include:

  • Combar has been attending non-Oxbridge law fairs since 2006.  In recent years Combar has teamed up with the Bar Council, the four Inns of Court and other SBAs to pool resources and ensure that barristers are present at wide range of law fairs to speak to students. Each year law fairs are chosen to ensure good coverage of universities in all circuits within England & Wales and those where around 10% or more of the students are from low participation neighbourhoods (using HESA data).
  • Combar provides 20 scholarships of  £500 each and work experience at Combar sets to students each year.  The scholarships are administered through two separate existing schemes run by Inner Temple and Middle Temple and involve at least a week sitting with barristers at a commercial set of chambers and a continuing relationship with a barrister mentor.
  • Combar had a stand at the PinkNews Careers Fair in October 2019.
  • In November 2019 Combar teamed up with Cake & Counsel to host an event called “Is the Commercial Bar for Everyone?” at Coventry University. 
  • In addition many Combar sets of chambers participate in the Bar Council’s Bar Placement Scheme (which offers work experience and mentoring to year 12 students).

In relation to retention and progression their aim is to help all Combar barristers to have a fulfilling and rewarding career irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.  Projects include:

  • Each year Combar, together with TECBAR and ChBa, host an event “The Silk Application and Life as a Junior Silk – a panel discussion”.
  • Working, together with TECBAR & ChBa, with the Bar Council’s Equality & Diversity Consultant on a project looking at women’s retention and career progression. 
  • Combar supports Freebar, a network aiming to foster inclusion and support for LGBT+ people working as and with barristers.  Combar together with Freebar, Tecbar and Blagg hosted networking drinks in May 2019 which were open to all, in particular LGBT+ lawyers, barristers, practice managers, industry professionals and students. A similar event is planned for 2020.
  • Combar, together with TECBAR and the UK Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists hosted a talk by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton PC “Master of the Rolls – work, responsibilities and the Jewish connection” in January 2020.   

The members of the Combar Equality and Diversity Committee are as follows:

Ruth Hosking (Quadrant Chambers) – Chair
Josephine Davies (Twenty Essex ) – Analysis of E&D statistics and retention of Women
Siddharth Dhar (Essex Court Chambers) – policies for Combar sets
Richard Fisher QC (South Square) – Social Mobility
Amanda Hadkiss – Policies for Combar sets
Kira King (XXIV Old Buildings) – Liaison with Junior Combar
Conall Patton QC (One Essex Court) – Liaison with FreeBar
Georgina Peters (South Square) – 25th Anniversary Scholarship Scheme
James MacDonald (One Essex Court) – Liaison with Combar Executive Committee
Charlotte Pope-Williams (Pinsent Masons LLP) – Judicial Diversity
Victoria Windle (Blackstone Chambers) – Law fairs