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Fighting The ‘Facebook Mentality’: Why Barristers Should Be Proud Of Their Refusal To ‘Share’ Diversity Data

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I see barristers’ refusal to embrace diversity monitoring has been described as “embarrassing” and “pathetic”. What nonsense, writes pupil barrister-to-be OccupyTheInns. There is absolutely nothing embarrassing or pathetic about declining to disclose highly personal data about oneself. In fact, I regard the Bar’s stance on this matter as something of which to be proud.

Unlike so many areas of society, the Bar stands robustly in the face of faddish winds of change, like an English oak in a field of straw. Do most barristers foolishly “share” every scrap of knowledge they have, as new social norms tell us we must through the likes of Facebook? No. Thought in greater measure must occur, before acts a barrister…

Several years hence, I rather suspect that the individuals who are criticising the profession for refusing to disclose data will have cause to review their present opinions. Fashions come, but just as with the seasons in temperate climates (of which I am far, as I work internationally on a human rights project in the tropics before commencing pupillage in autumn 2013), they pass also.

“But how will we improve diversity at the Bar without data?” I hear the knee-jerk critics among you cry. The answer to that is that diversity is already formidable at the Bar. Just look around you for heaven’s sake: there is every shade of wonderfully different coloured person walking through the Inns of Court nowadays. Or for the lovers of statistics among you, refer to the data on race and gender already harvested.

This is where the line must be drawn, however. What business is it of anyone to ask my sexual orientation, my religion, the educational institution in which I passed my days as a child? More to the point, how on earth is this truly relevant to diversity?

It is true (if you believe past research) that more barristers attended independent schools than members of most professions, but diversity at those schools is often high, with students from all around the world coming to Britain to take advantage of a world-class educational system. More state-educated students could mean less opportunities for this racially diverse, not to mention highly cultured and refined, bunch.

You see, that is the problem with the cold analysis of data. It seems sensible at first, but can lead to unforeseen consequences, and drive deeper existing inequities. And who knows where all the information will end up? Quite possibly in the hands of Mark Zuckerberg, the way society is moving at the moment. Thank goodness, though, that for now the Inns of Court refuses to submit to the Facebook mentality.

OccupyTheInns was called to the Bar in July 2011. He will commence pupillage in autumn 2013. There’s more from OccupyTheInns here.

7 Comments

kris

“there is every shade of wonderfully different coloured person walking through the Inns of Court nowadays”.

Jesus wept.

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Dot

Secrecy in the first place. So what has been changed – nothing. No comments but remember applying for a mini-pupillage in a respectful chambers with a first and met a guy who got there with mere a-levels – the name of the chambers is obviously secret. Applying next time to the same chambers – rejected again, no letter this time, had to call them up:
‘Why was I rejected?’
‘No particular reason. Thank you for your application.’
‘Can I have some data about people who were selected?’
‘No.’
I am always curious about these diversity monitoring questionnaires in different firms and chambers – are they only to get rid of less ‘normal’ candidates? Certainly there are means of metaregulation and CSR that could enhance diversity, but for some reason secrecy is the only solution.

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Sadie

Badly written. Hope your pupillage improves your English!

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Simon Myerson

Not sure you would write this if you were female, Muslim, Asian, Black, Jewish, Gay.

Sure you wouldn’t write it if you were one of those things and had thought about it.

We want to eliminate discrimination. That needs some solid information about the make up of the Bar. You suggest guessing and hoping it works. Fine words from someone with nothing to worry about on that score.

Barristers are fed up and don’t want to fill in forms. Entirely understandable. Don’t elevate it into resistance.

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John_Lewis_Scammer [non-practicing barrister]

Didn’t read the article (I preferred OTI when he was bitter rather than smug, sitcoms are always better when the main character’s a loser), but Myerson sounds insufferable. Gods the Bar used to have low standards!

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Simon Myerson

It did, it did. But even so, you remained non-practising…

A lesson there perhaps.

Merry Christmas!

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Rumb

“there is every shade of wonderfully different coloured person walking through the Inns of Court nowadays” Blimey!

This would-be practising barrister would continue from where the old guards, you gave him his pupillage, stopped

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