Lack of judicial diversity a serious problem say legal cheifs

 

Today’s diversity figures from the Judicial Appointments (JAC) show there is a serious problem with the appointment of black and minority ethnic lawyers to the bench and underline the need for targeted support and training, the Bar Council has said.

The figures reveal:

  • BAME candidates made up 20% of applicants for legal posts but only 6% of recommendations for appointment
  • BAME candidates made up 23% of Deputy District Judge applicants, but only 6% of recommendations for appointment
  • BAME candidates are disproportionately less likely to succeed in applying to be High Court and Circuit Judges
  • There were no BAME applicants for senior judicial roles
  • Women made up 42% of applicants for legal posts but only 35% of recommendations for appointment, and
  • The success rate for women applying to be High Court Judges is proportionate to those who applied, but women made up only 35% of the eligible pool of applicants.

 Chair of the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee, Robin Allen QC said:

“We cannot go on having no BAME applications for senior judicial roles. The rule of law requires a fully diverse judiciary.

“Once again the figures reveal the urgent need for positive action to make BAME applicants more successful and to increase the number of eligible women applicants.

“These figures stress the importance of the Bar Council’s on-going training and coaching programmes for BAME and women lawyers who wish to serve as members of the judiciary.

“Despite the problems it highlights, the JAC’s reporting is meticulous and it deserves credit for not shying away from these issues.”

Speaking about proposals for a new education programme in development with the JAC, Ministry of Justice and other legal professional bodies, Robin Allen QC said:

“The Bar Council is working in partnership to develop a programme of Pre-Application Judicial Education (PAJE), open to all who are thinking about applying to the bench, but with a high proportion of reserved places for BAME, women and disabled lawyers.”

The PAJE programme has support from across the legal profession and the judiciary.  It would give potential candidates a vital insight into what being a judge entails with modules on judgecraft, jury handling, judicial ethics and dealing with families and the media.

He said:

“We want to give all aspiring judges a better idea of what is expected of them. The aim is to level the playing-field so that all potential applicants have access to training, support and insights that will help them to decide if the judiciary is the right calling for them.

“If they chose to apply, the programme would help candidates to apply with confidence.”

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