“The promotion of diversity at the Commercial Bar is one of COMBAR’s core aims. It is vital that the Commercial Bar recruits from the most talented future practitioners, including, in particular, those from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-represented. The Mentoring Scheme allows applicants from those backgrounds who are of the requisite standard to succeed at the Commercial Bar access to one-to-one mentoring with practitioners from 23 participating sets and is an important further step in promoting access and demonstrating that the Commercial Bar is open to all with the ability to succeed. I am delighted that this year’s Scheme can build on last year’s success and I want to thank all those involved volunteering their time to make this happen.”
David Joseph KC, Chair of COMBAR
Following the success of last year’s inaugural scheme, COMBAR is delighted to announce that its mentoring scheme for applicants from groups who are under-represented at the Bar (and the Commercial Bar in particular) is now open for applications for the 2023 – 2024 cycle. The scheme is an important part of COMBAR’s commitment to improving access and diversity in the legal profession.
The scheme pairs successful eligible candidates with practitioners from COMBAR member sets for a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions. Mentees and their mentors are also invited to a pupillage interview and application workshop and social event, which is planned for January 2024. An equivalent event for this year’s scheme was held in January 2023 at Gray’s Inn, with over 170 mentees attending in person and remotely, and a keynote introductory speech by Mr Justice Foxton, the Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court.
There has been an excellent uptake of the scheme by COMBAR member sets. 23 sets have agreed to provide mentors and it is expected that there will be places for about 250 mentees on the scheme across those participating sets. All participating sets have also agreed to cover reasonable travel expenses for mentees allocated to them.
In order to ensure that as diverse a pool of potential applicants is reached as possible, COMBAR will advertise the scheme through the careers departments of all English and Welsh universities with a law department, together with a number of universities in Scotland and Ireland, third sector organisations such as HerBar, the Social Mobility Foundation and Sutton Trust, and publications such as Counsel Magazine. COMBAR is also pleased to have renewed its arrangement with Legal Cheek, which remains the official partner for the scheme.
Applicants who are considered to have realistic prospects of obtaining a pupillage at the Commercial Bar will be assessed by reference to their need for mentoring and their potential to pursue a career at the Bar. A deliberate decision has been taken to give equal weighting to both of these criteria to help ensure that the scheme reaches talented applicants from the most under-represented communities who would benefit most from mentoring and guidance.
Applicants wishing to participate in the scheme are requested to complete the application form which can be found here. Application forms must be received by Thursday 12th October 2023. COMBAR hopes that applicants will be informed as to whether or not they have been accepted onto the scheme within November 2023.