Rachel Bale and Nasreen Shah seek to address key issues that women barristers face whilst practising at the Bar through their new Hub…
Her Bar is an initiative created off the back of a tumultuous year of three lockdowns and a global pandemic. This year proved difficult for the Bar especially, having been forced to close courts and move to virtual hearings and working from home. There were mounting pressures for Barristers including balancing of work and home life, especially for women with childcare and caring responsibilities and these pressures only further highlighted the difficulties women in this profession uniquely face.
In the wake of the pandemic, however, we have also seen such tenacity and ingenuity with regards to support for women barristers.
Her Bar is the simple concept that most barristers can’t believe doesn’t already exist.
What is Her Bar?
It is a bespoke comprehensive platform designed to follow and support the trajectory of a woman barrister’s career from the point of entry at the Bar, through to building her brand in practice and eventually when progressing onto a new post e.g. QC or Judicial appointment. At Her Bar, we provide curated content, advice and resources in order to help support genuine issues women barristers and clerks continue to face including topics such as:
- managing financial difficulties;
- work allocation;
- preparing for and returning from career breaks;
- harassment in court;
- menopause at work;
- career progression etc…
However, most importantly, Her Bar creates a community of women, who share the same profession and same issues and a space for them to ask and receive support and guidance. This is achieved through our built in ‘chat’ function, when every member creates their own profile and can post questions and responses publicly. We also collaborate with networking initiatives advertising their events and contact information on Her Bar, so that they are easily accessible, raising the profile of existing schemes in one place.
Why do we need Her Bar?
There is much to be celebrated in the inclusion of women at the Bar including the fact that in 2020 the gender split for pupils was 54.8% women to 45.2% men, however when it comes to retention of women barristers, we have a long way to go. Steadily, after 5 years’ call, the Bar is losing women practitioners, all cumulating in a mere 16.2% of QCs being women. There are still issues with supporting women barrister’s practices when returning from career breaks, issues with fee transparency and a much lower number of women applicants applying for Silk. There are also individual health issues women can face in the workplace such as menopause which can have a debilitating effect on their practice if not supported.
Her Bar focusses on these issues through dedicated guidance, advisory tips and by encouraging contributions from practitioners either through their chat function or through their blog. By discussing these issues, we can come up with the solutions in order to ensure women barristers continue to have thriving practices and progress at the same rate as their male counterparts.
If interested in learning more, please contact Her Bar at firstname.lastname@example.org