“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. This Mentoring Scheme will allow applicants from those backgrounds access to one-to-one mentoring with practitioners from 20 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 at its launch and I want to thank all those involved volunteering their time to make this happen.”
David Joseph QC, Chair of COMBAR
COMBAR is delighted to launch its inaugural mentoring scheme for applicants from groups who are under-represented at the Bar, and the Commercial Bar in particular. The scheme is an important part of COMBAR’s commitment to improving access and diversity in the legal profession. It follows two years of a similar scheme being administered and undertaken by a number of individual commercial sets, to whom COMBAR is indebted for pioneering this important project. The COMBAR scheme is intended to supersede but build upon that existing scheme going forward.
The scheme pairs successful eligible candidates with practitioners from COMBAR member sets for a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions. COMBAR also hopes to organise a pupillage interview and application workshop and a social event, to which all mentors and mentees will be invited, in early 2023.
There has been an excellent uptake of the scheme by COMBAR member sets. Twenty 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 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 the Social Mobility Foundation and Sutton Trust, and commercial publications such as Legal Cheek.
Applicants 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 online application form which can be found here. Application forms must be received by 4pm on Friday 16 September 2022. COMBAR hopes that applicants will be informed as to whether or not they have been accepted onto the scheme within October 2022.