Equality & diversity

Essex Court Chambers is committed to providing equality of opportunity regardless of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, religion or belief, political persuasion, pregnancy or maternity. For further information, please see Chambers’ written statement on equality and diversity.

Essex Court Chambers regularly holds in-house equality and diversity training sessions, conducted by external specialist advisers, for all members involved in recruitment.

Essex Court Chambers is committed to the furtherance of equality and diversity and promoting access to the legal profession and to the bar. For further information on the initiatives supported by members of Chambers in this respect, see the Social Responsibility page.

Chambers is accessible to people using wheelchairs and will consider any reasonable adjustments for disabled people working with Chambers or receiving legal services. For further information, please see Chambers’ reasonable adjustments policy.

Chambers is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals, clients and the public are treated with dignity and respect. For further information, please see Chambers’ anti-harassment policy and Chambers’ grievance policy.

Chambers is committed to encouraging and supporting members of Chambers following the birth or adoption of a child, and enabling them to continue to build successful practices. For further information, please see Chambers’ policy on parental leave, flexible working and career breaks for members.

Equality and diversity data

In accordance with the Bar Standards Board Handbook, Essex Court Chambers has surveyed its workforce with a view to collecting and publishing equality and diversity data. The purpose of the BSB rules is to provide transparency concerning recruitment and employment activities and to encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession.

Equality and diversity data is considered to be information relating to the following characteristics: age, sex, gender, disability, ethnic group, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and caring responsibilities.

The survey was conducted anonymously and in accordance with the BSB rules and guidance. Participation in the survey was voluntary.

The data summarised below is based on the responses actually received, and may not reflect the position that would have applied if all those eligible to participate had chosen to do so. 132 people responded to at least part of the survey – not all questions were answered by every participant. The data was collated up to 5 July 2022 and reflects the position at that date. The information is rounded to the nearest percentage point, such that some percentages when taken together may slightly exceed 100%.

Each diversity characteristic is categorised against job status and role in a manner which reflects seniority within Chambers. In order to be able to provide any data for publication, Essex Court Chambers publishes its data in the following categories:

  • Barristers (split out where possible into (a) KCs and (b) junior barristers / pupils).
  • Staff.

If individuals may be identifiable at a particular level of detail because the characteristic in question is obvious and the number of individuals in a category are low (fewer than 10), we do not publish that particular category in that level of detail without the consent of all concerned. The equality and diversity data that meets the conditions for publication is as set out below (noting that more granular data for other diversity characteristics was collected, but its publication might lead to the identification of individuals, and consent from all concerned was not always forthcoming).

Chambers recognises that work on Equality and Diversity is an ongoing process which is always capable of being refined and improved. The E&D Committee welcomes suggestions for refinement, improvement or other changes to Chambers’ approach across any / all of the protected characteristics and other areas which are monitored.

Age

 16-2425-3435-4445-5455+65+Prefer not to say
KCs0020.45% (9)31.82% (14)22.73% (10)25.00% (11)0
Juniors/Pupils4.26%
(2)
38.30% (18)42.55% (20)2.13%
(1)
4.26%
(2)
2.13%
(1)
6.38%
(3)
Staff19.35% (6)25.81% (8)19.35% (6)19.35% (6)12.90% (4)3.23%
(1)
0

Sex

 MaleFemalePrefer not to say
KCs81.82% (36)18.18% (8)0
Juniors / Pupils65.96% (31)29.79% (14)4.26%
(2)
Staff45.16% (14)51.61% (16)3.23%
(1)

Gender

Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?
 YesNoPrefer not to say
KCs100%
(32)
00
Juniors / Pupils95.12% (39)04.88%
(2)
Staff100%
(23)
00

The sex / gender balance in Chambers, particularly in relation to barristers, has improved since the last survey (although the participation rate in the present survey is much higher which makes a direct comparison challenging). However, it is noticeable that historically the number of female pupils has only rarely achieved 50%. This remains an area of particular focus for improvement within Chambers, for example through participation in the “A Career as a Commercial Barrister: A Great Choice for Women” initiative, and a range of formal and informal arrangements designed to promote retention. Since 2020, Chambers has supported and participated in the COMBAR Mentoring Scheme which targets underrepresented groups (i.e. all of the areas covered in the survey).

DISABILITY 

The number of respondents answering ‘yes’ to the question “Do you consider yourself to have a disability according to the definition in the Equality Act 2010” and the follow up question “Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months” was greater than zero but fewer than 10 overall. Given the risk of identification, no breakdown is provided.

Chambers is committed to considering and making reasonable adjustments where required in order to ensure that the workforce and other people attending Chambers are able to participate fully in Chambers life and meetings, events, etc hosted in Chambers. Since 2020, Chambers has supported and participated in the COMBAR Mentoring Scheme which targets underrepresented groups (i.e. all of the areas covered in the survey).

Ethnic Group

EthnicityAsian / Asian BritishAfrican / Caribbean / Black BritishMixed / Multiple Ethnic GroupsWhiteOther Ethnic Group
KCs88.64% (39)0
Juniors / Pupils78.72% (37) 4.26%
(2)
Staff90.32% (28)3.23%
(1)

14 responses across all respondents identified themselves as within ethnic groups other than white, and the number in each category was not zero when all three workforce classifications are taken together (although it was zero for certain categories within certain of the classifications). However, the numbers being fewer than 10 in each category even if the three workforce classifications were blended, and having regard to the risk of identification, a further breakdown of the figures has not been provided in this table.

Diversity based on ethnic group within Chambers has improved since the last survey (although the participation rate in the present survey is much higher, and the previous data did not split out KCs from Juniors / Pupils, which makes a direct comparison challenging). A number of members of chambers participate on an individual basis in programmes which seek to improve representation in this area, and Chambers itself is a long-standing supporter of the Social Mobility Foundation, whose students are often from a range of diverse backgrounds. Since 2020, Chambers has supported and participated in the COMBAR Mentoring Scheme which targets underrepresented groups (i.e. all of the areas covered in the survey).

Religion or Belief

 No religion or beliefBuddhistChristian (all denominations)HinduJewishMuslimSikhAny other religionPrefer Not to Say
All38.84% (47)042.98% (52)0.83% (1)9.09% (11)0.83% (1)01.65% (2)5.79% (7)

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

The number of respondents who did not answer ‘heterosexual / straight’ to this question was greater than zero but fewer than 10 overall. Given the risk of identification, and upon consent being withheld by some respondents, no breakdown is provided.

Members of chambers are active supporters of FreeBar, the network which aims to foster inclusion and support for LGBT+ people working as and with barristers. Since 2020, Chambers has supported and participated in the COMBAR Mentoring Scheme which targets underrepresented groups (i.e. all of the areas covered in the survey).

University

Did you attend university to study a BA, BSc or higher course?
EducationYesNoDid not attend universityPrefer not to say
KCs100% (44)000
Juniors / Pupils97.82% (45)002.17%
(1)
Staff35.48% (11)45.16% (14)19.35% (6)0

First at University

Were you part of the first generation of your family to attend university?
EducationYesNoPrefer not to say
KCs38.64% (17)
61.36% (27)0
Juniors/Pupils39.13% (18)60.87% (28)0
Staff32.26% (10)64.52% (20)3.23%
(1)

State vs Fee-paying School

Did you mainly attend a state or fee paying school between the ages of 11 and 18?
EducationUK State School - SelectiveUK State School – Non-SelectiveUK Independent / Fee-paying schoolAttended school outside UKPrefer not to say
KCs13.64%
(6)

11.36% (5)65.91%
(29)
9.09%
(4)
0
Juniors / Pupils15.22%
(7)
32.61% (15)34.78%
(16)
15.22% (7)2.17% (1)
Staff45.16% (14)38.71% (12)9.68%
(3)
3.23%
(1)
3.23% (1)

Free school meal eligibility

 YesNoPrefer not to say
KCs4.55%
(2)

90.91% (40)4.55%
(2)

Juniors / Pupils8.70%
(4)
89.13% (41)2.17%
(1)

Staff16.13% (5)80.65% (25)3.23%
(1)

Primary Carer for a child

Are you a primary carer for a child or children under 18?
 YesNoPrefer not to say
KCs20.45% (9)79.55% (35)0
Juniors/Pupils26.09% (12)73.91% (34)0
Staff22.58% (7)74.19% (23)3.23%
(1)

A significant number of members of chambers have a primary care role. Recognising and seeking to support those who are or may in future be in that position, Chambers’ parental leave policy features: (a) a retained right to a room for at least 18 months during leave; (b) no fees (other than on earnings received) during leave; (c) an interest free loan of up to £50,000; (d) a fee waiver on up to £250,000 of fees received after return to practice. Taken together, Chambers considers that this is one of the most progressive policies available at the bar.

HELP OR SUPPORT TO OTHERS BASED ON LONG TERM HEALTH, DISABILITY OR AGE ISSUES

 NoYes, 1-19hrs per weekYes, 20-49hrs per weekYes, 50hrs or more per weekPrefer Not to Say
KCs65.91% (29)
31.82% (14)0

02.27% (1)
Juniors / Pupils82.61% (38)17.39% (8)0
00
Staff74.19% (23)9.68%
(3)
3.23%
(1)
3.23%
(1)
9.68% (3)

If you have any queries, please contact Chambers’ Diversity Data Officer, Richard Hoyle, at rhoyle@essexcourt.net.