Social mobility initiative goes north as Bar Placement Week makes Liverpool debut

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QCs of the future could come from under privileged families outside London, and the Bar Council wants to boost odds of finding them


The Bar Council is taking its search for young talent up north, rolling out its pro-diversity Bar Placement Week in Liverpool.

This prestigious social mobility scheme gives high achieving Year 12 students a hands-on taster of life as a fully fledged barrister. The students — all from under-represented backgrounds — get to shadow barristers for the week, experiencing advocacy training, careers talks and court visits.

Initially, the scheme put its stake in the ground in London, where most of the top sets are based. Eight years on, Bar Placement Week has branched out above and beyond the capital and now has a strong cross country presence, settling in cities such as Birmingham and Bristol. While the programme has recently extended to Manchester and Leeds, it’s yet to make its Liverpool debut — until this week that is.

So how do barristers feel about unveiling city number six?

Chairman of the Bar and Atkin Chambers‘ commercial dispute resolution expert, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said:

The Bar is a small and specialist profession and opportunities to gain career experience like this can be few and far between – especially outside of London. I am delighted to see barristers giving up their time to offer students this unique opportunity.

She continued:

Extending the reach of Bar Placement Week can help open the way for students who may not have considered a career as a barrister. This initiative is about widening the talent pool and showing those with potential, irrespective of their background, what it means to be a barrister. For all we know, the QC’s of tomorrow could be amongst those taking part in this programme.

And are there any plans to expand further?

Legal Cheek got in touch with the Bar Council to find out, and they told us:

We aren’t specifically looking to expand that particular programme, but we do have other initiatives that we are looking to widen to cover more of the country, including an initiative that sees barristers go into schools and give talks on being a barrister. It’s called Speak Up for others.

Meanwhile, back in London, yesterday students from another leading social mobility initiative, Pathways, were at commercial chambers Hardwicke to do a mock trial, featuring a host of top barristers including PJ Kirby QC.

Miss Muppet v The Spider – at Hardwicke and Allen & Overy mock trial this morning, with Pathways to Law

A video posted by Legal Cheek (@legalcheek) on

The students, from schools across London, spent the rest of the week at magic circle law firm Allen & Overy as they got an insight into both branches of the profession.