This week is Bar social mobility placement week, with 69 high-achieving students from low-performing state schools getting to spend a few days hanging out in the Inns of Court with barristers and judges.
Sadly, though, the scheme is only open to students in London schools, automatically precluding wannabe barristers from many of the poorest areas in the country.
There is no equivalent regional programme…
OK, so 69 work experience placements is hardly going to cause a revolution. But in a symbolic sense – and much of the Bar placement scheme’s value is surely symbolic – a programme that excludes everyone outside the M25 sends out a pretty depressing message to the bright youth of the regions.
Yesterday, at the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) symposium in Manchester, the Bar Council’s social mobility committee chair Taryn Lee QC – who’s from Yorkshire – said she was keen to see Bar placement week extended to include students outside London. But with the scheme now in its sixth year, shouldn’t that have happened already?