Members of Essex Court Chambers are committed to acting in a socially responsible manner. Members are involved in initiatives that promote the furtherance of equality and diversity and promote access to the legal profession and to the bar. Examples of initiatives that members are involved in include:
The Social Mobility Foundation
For the last five years, Essex Court Chambers has been an official supporter of the Social Mobility Foundation. Essex Court Chambers was the first (and still the only) Chambers to become an official supporter of the Social Mobility Foundation. One of the key focuses of the foundation is to support talented students from non-traditional backgrounds to focus on both thinking about careers and university choices whilst at school, and to support students in these endeavours. Members of Chambers run at least four events per year with the Social Mobility Foundation, including a public speaking workshop for sixth form students, a mooting workshop for students at university, attending the Social Mobility Foundations career events, giving feedback on draft personal statements for university law degree applications, and providing mock university law interviews.
Essex Court Chambers is one of six Barristers’ Chambers involved in creating a mentoring scheme for underrepresented groups at the Bar. The mentoring scheme aims to support and encourage individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the commercial bar) to pursue careers as barristers. Those underrepresented groups include women; people from minority ethnic backgrounds; people with disabilities; LGBT+ people; people who spent time in care; and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
Members of Essex Court Chambers are involved in many outreach initiatives including:
- Sponsoring and providing speakers or participants to student events.
- Providing mentors for students as part of the KCL Bar & Mooting Society’s Social Mobility Mentors Scheme.
- Assisting with the Bar Council’s Bar Placement Week.
- Participating in the Inner Temple’s Pegasus Access and Support Scheme.
- Assisting with COMBAR diversity events including the recent ‘Cake and Counsel’ in Birmingham and London with an emphasis on informal networking with aspiring lawyers.
- A collaborative programme of events directed at issues of diversity in recruitment to the commercial Bar. Event programme entitled: “A career as a commercial barrister: a great choice for women”.
Annual Student Open Day
Essex Court Chambers led the way in introducing an annual student open day, in addition to traditional mini-pupillages, as a way of running an event specifically focused on giving students an opportunity to learn about the different areas of the bar and the routes to the bar, the available scholarships and financial support and where they are encouraged to freely ask questions and meet current members of Chambers.
Members of Chambers regularly undertake pro bono work, including via the Bar Pro Bono Unit and the Employment Law Appeal Advice Scheme (“ELAAS”). See more about the Pro Bono work undertaken by members of Chambers here. In 2019 Essex Court Chambers was acknowledged as a Gold Patron of the Bar Pro Bono Unit.
Bridging the Bar Scheme
Chambers is joining a new diversity mini-pupillage scheme. This is a newly-launched initiative called ‘Bridging the Bar’ (BTB). BTB is a scheme that seeks to encourage the access and representation of aspiring barristers from underrepresented communities at the Bar. We hope to arrange mini pupillages for 3 candidates for 3 days each per year. This scheme is being run by Tom Ford and Lorraine Aboagye and more details can be found here.
Inner Temple – Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS)
Essex Court Chambers participate in Inner Temple’s Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS). We take on around 4 candidates to attend a 2-day mini pupillage, per year. The aim of the scheme is to improve access to the profession and to support high achieving students from under-represented backgrounds by providing the experiences they need to be able to thrive at the Bar. PASS aims to do this by securing a mini-pupillage in chambers for each participant and by providing a focused professional and advocacy skills development programme. More details of the PASS scheme can be found here.
Essex Court Chambers host two Canadian Fox Scholars each year. They spend roughly 3 months at chambers, usually placed with 3 different members for one-month each. The programme has operated since 1985. Additional information regarding the scholarships may be found on the Fund’s website here.
London Living Wage
Essex Court Chambers is accredited as a London Living Wage employer. This means that all employees and all contracted staff (such as security and cleaning staff) will be paid at or above a minimum hourly rate which is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Greater London Authority. The living wage is higher than the minimum wage and calculated according to the basic cost of actually living in London.
Bar Council Sustainability Network
Essex Court Chambers is a member of the Bar Council Sustainability Network, an initiative run in conjunction with Achill Management, a sustainability consultancy with expertise working with the legal profession. The network provides a range of services for chambers to create more sustainable ways of working.