Bar leaders urge senior barristers to call out harassment and bullying

Responding to the IBA’s new report on sexual harassment and bullying in the legal profession, Sam Mercer, Head of Diversity & Inclusion and CSR at the Bar Council, said:

 “We have made clear that this behaviour is unacceptable, and are keen to see greater adoption of anti-bullying and harassment policies and uptake of training across the legal profession to address these issues.

“The Bar Council is proactive on this agenda and we must continue to invest time and effort into tackling these issues. Leadership is key. We have developed a full programme of work designed for the chambers context – policies, guidance, training, and working with the regulator to support reporting, and those making a complaint. We have seen increased recognition and willingness to engage through our range of support services. Specific training, especially facilitating conversations on this topic in chambers proves helpful for those who have faced harassment and bullying and can help clear up concerns and confusion over what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. Most importantly however we find it gives members and staff permission to call unacceptable behaviours out.”

Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar and Amanda Pinto QC, Vice-Chair of the Bar commented:

 “This is an extremely valuable report, which we encourage barristers and all in chambers to take the time to read.

“The report makes 10 clear recommendations for action, all of which the Bar Council is already actively pursuing. This report however, is a reminder that we must all do more to tackle these wholly unacceptable behaviours.  We continue to encourage members of the profession, particularly those in senior positions, to call out inappropriate behaviour. This report reminds us why this is so important.”

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