New mentoring scheme for underrepresented groups at the Bar.

28 July, 2020

Essex Court Chambers is delighted to announce that it is working with five other sets of Chambers to create a mentoring scheme, which 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.

The scheme is called Mentoring For Underrepresented Groups: a scheme run by Commercial Barristers’ Chambers. The Chambers participating for the academic year 2020-2021 are (in alphabetical order):

  • Blackstone Chambers
  • Brick Court Chambers
  • Essex Court Chambers
  • Fountain Court Chambers
  • One Essex Court Chambers
  • Three Verulam Buildings

The scheme will run between November 2020 and June 2021. It is open to all undergraduates and graduates from groups that are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the commercial bar) and who do not yet have a pupillage offer.

Successful applicants to join the scheme will be allocated a mentor, who will be a member of one of the participating sets of Chambers. As part of the scheme, mentees will be offered:

  • Between three and five one-on-one meetings with their mentor.
  • A workshop on applications for pupillage.
  • Subject to developments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, one or more social events for mentors, mentees and members of the participating sets of Chambers.

Joe Smouha QC and Huw Davies QC, have commented, “As joint heads of Chambers we are acutely aware of the need to improve representation at the Commercial Bar of all under-represented groups of society.  We are also aware that positive actions, not just words, are needed to achieve that aim.  We see the proposed mentoring scheme as a step in the right direction but understand that many more such positive steps are required if our aim is to gain real traction.”

Applications to participate in the scheme are now open, and will close at midday on 2 October 2020.

Further information on the scheme, including the application form, can be found here.