Mentoring Scheme

Essex Court Chambers is participating in the COMBAR Mentoring Scheme for Under-Represented Groups, which is now open for applications.

The scheme pairs successful eligible candidates with practitioners for a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions.  COMBAR also hopes to organise a pupillage interview and application workshop and a social event, to which all mentors and mentees will be invited, in early 2023.

The scheme was founded in 2020 by six sets of Chambers, including Essex Court Chambers, and expanded to ten sets in 2021. In the first two years of the scheme over 350 prospective applicants to the Bar were matched with mentors. The scheme has been taken forward by COMBAR from 2022 onwards. The involvement of COMBAR will enable the scheme to be expanded to more participating sets, so that more mentees can be given access to practical information about becoming a barrister and what being a barrister involves.

Essex Court Chambers is looking forward to participating in the next year of the scheme, which is an important part of COMBAR’s and Essex Court’s commitment to improving access and diversity in the legal profession.

In order to ensure that as diverse a pool of potential applicants is reached as possible, COMBAR will advertise the scheme through the careers departments of all English and Welsh universities with a law department, together with a number of universities in Scotland and Ireland, third sector organisations such as the Sutton Trust, and commercial publications such as Legal Cheek.

Applicants will be assessed by reference to their need for mentoring and their potential to pursue a career at the Bar.  A deliberate decision has been taken to give equal weighting to both of these criteria to help ensure that the scheme reaches talented applicants from the most under-represented communities who would benefit most from mentoring and guidance.

How to Apply

  • Applicants wishing to participate in the scheme are requested to complete the online application form.
  • Application forms must be received by 4pm on Friday 7 October 2022.
  • COMBAR hopes that applicants will be informed as to whether or not they have been accepted onto the scheme within October 2022.
  • Full details of the scheme can be found at the Scheme Guidelines.
  • Any other questions should be directed to the following email address: socialmobility@combar.com

Philippa Hopkins QC, who was a member of the committee that worked to set up the original mentoring scheme and now sits on the COMBAR sub-committee running the new scheme, says, “We are delighted that the mentoring scheme is continuing through COMBAR.  This reflects the commitment of the founder sets, including Essex Court, and the commercial Bar as a whole, to increasing diversity in the profession.  In its first two years, the scheme has helped many mentees from groups under-represented at the Commercial Bar in their progress to a career at the Bar.  Here at Essex Court, we are looking forward greatly to working with COMBAR and with this year’s mentors and mentees.”

David Joseph QC, Chair of COMBAR says, “The promotion of diversity at the Commercial Bar is one of COMBAR’s core aims.  It is vital that the Commercial Bar recruits from the most talented future practitioners, including, in particular, those from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-represented.  This Mentoring Scheme will allow applicants from those backgrounds access to one-to-one mentoring with practitioners from 20 participating sets and is an important further step in promoting access and demonstrating that the Commercial Bar is open to all with the ability to succeed.  I am delighted at its launch and I want to thank all those involved volunteering their time to make this happen.