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Bar Council head backs Truss call for greater diversity

The chair of the bar council has supported demands by justice secretary Liz Truss to increase diversity in the justice system and has called for the bar and judiciary to ‘reflect society at large’.

Chantal-Aimee Doerries said today that ’everyone wants to see greater progression’ for female as well as black, asian and minority ethnic lawyers and judges.
Truss used her speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week to criticise the lack of diversity in the legal profession.

She told delegates that only one in seven QCs and one in three partners at law firms are women. Fewer than one in 10 judges come from ethnic minorities, Truss said.

Truss also attacked the Supreme Court, which she said has just one woman out of 12 judges and not one from an ethnic minority.

The justice secretary told the conference that a modern justice system was not just reflected in practices and processes ‘but in its people’.

In a statement, Doerries added: ‘The bar is making great efforts to promote diversity and retain talent. Transformation will take time but we must respond to legitimate concern.

‘We look forward to working with the lord chancellor to help her achieve her ambition to promote greater diversity in the profession.’

Doerries said there were initiatives underway at the bar including mentoring schemes, one of which is aimed at supporting women and ethnic minority barristers seeking to become QCs and members of the judiciary.

Other initiatives include practice guides for chambers and barristers on fair recruitment, family career breaks, and equality and diversity training.

As head of the bar council, Doerries is one of three women involved in leading the barristers profession alongside Louisa Nye, head of the young barristers’ committee and Lorinda Long, the bar council’s treasurer.

By Max Walters

(Courtesy of the Law Society Gazette)