COMBAR Mentoring Scheme for Under-Represented Groups Now Open for Applications

The promotion of diversity at the Commercial Bar continues to be 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 is now moving into its third year.  This initiative allows applicants from under-representative backgrounds, who meet the requisite standards, to access one-to-one mentoring with practitioners from 25 participating sets.  It is an important way of promoting access and demonstrating that the Commercial Bar is open to applicants from all backgrounds.  I am delighted that this year’s Scheme can build on the success of previous years and I want to thank all those involved for volunteering their time to make this happen.

Alexander Gunning KC, Chair of COMBAR

As we move into the third year of this successful 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 2024 – 2025 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 14 January 2025.  An equivalent event for this year’s scheme was held in January 2024 at Gray’s Inn, with over 130 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.  A record 25 sets have agreed to provide mentors and it is expected that there will be places for at least 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 intends to 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, FreeBar, InterLaw, the Social Mobility Foundation and Sutton Trust.  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 download and complete the application form which can be found here.  Completed application forms must be saved as a PDF with the naming convention “First Name – Surname” and emailed to by Friday 20 September 2024.  COMBAR hopes that applicants will be informed as to whether or not they have been accepted onto the scheme within October 2024.  Due to the number of applicants applying for the scheme, it will unfortunately not be possible to give individual feedback as to why an application may have been unsuccessful, though unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply in subsequent years.

Full details of the scheme can be found at the Scheme Guidelines which can be found here.  Any other questions should be directed to the following email address: