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BSB's diversity report

BSB's diversity report


Bar Standards Board reports positive trends in 2023 diversity data, emphasizing ongoing efforts for inclusivity and representation

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has released its annual report on diversity at the Bar, providing insights into the composition of the legal profession in 2023. The report highlights several noteworthy trends and areas of progress, as well as ongoing challenges.

Key findings from the report indicate a continuation of positive long-term trends. Notable increases include the proportion of practicing barristers who are women, from minority ethnic backgrounds, with primary care of a child, and those aged 55 or over. A substantial rise in individuals undertaking pupillage was observed, reaching the highest number recorded since the inception of the Diversity at the Bar report in 2015.

The report notes that the proportion of women King's Counsel (KCs) increased from 19.2% in 2022 to 20.3% in 2023, though a significant gap still exists between the overall proportion of women in the Bar and women KCs. Additionally, the percentage of barristers from minority ethnic backgrounds rose by 0.6 percentage points, aligning closely with estimates of the working-age population in England and Wales.

An encouraging development is the 3.2 percentage point increase in the proportion of pupils with declared disabilities from December 2022 to December 2023. However, the report acknowledges persistent challenges, particularly in the underrepresentation of diverse groups at the senior levels of the Bar.

Mark Neale, the Director General of the Bar Standards Board, expressed optimism about the Bar's increasing representation but highlighted the ongoing disparities, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures. Neale encouraged barristers to respond to the included questionnaire during the renewal of their practicing certificates, aiming to obtain the most accurate and comprehensive data on the diversity of the Bar.

The report serves as an evidence base for developing targeted policies, aligning with the BSB's statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Legal Services Act 2007. The Equality and Diversity Strategy 2022-2025 underscores the commitment to fostering a more inclusive and representative legal profession, recognizing the work needed to bridge existing gaps at all levels within the Bar.