The Bar Council has responded to new findings from the Work Foundation which shows that, despite efforts already made to ensure that the Queen’s Counsel (QC) appointment system gives all qualified applicants a fair chance of appointment, more action is needed to encourage applications from women.
Sam Mercer, Head of Equality & Diversity at the Bar Council, said: “It is important we regularly review the Queen’s Counsel Appointments (QCA) appointment process to identify any barriers and bias which may deter women and others from applying for Silk. We are delighted that the QCA has identified some very practical steps it can take to remove barriers identified without lowering the high standard – excellence in advocacy – that is required in any Silk award.
“Ensuring we support women to stay at the Bar, and to progress their careers, is already at the heart of much of our work and we have a range of innovative programmes to try to assist women in the profession (including mentoring, assisting chambers in complying with rules on fair allocation of work and better practice management etc.). There are, however, wider economic factors behind any individual’s decision to make a Silk application and this includes making a calculation of the impact on their practice and chambers. We must recognise simply revising process, while both sensible and helpful, may not – in the current environment – necessarily significantly increase the pool of women candidates.”