Bar Council launches new mentoring scheme to help barristers with children return to work

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By Thomas Connelly on

Initiative aims to stem the loss of top legal talent at the bar


The Bar Council has unveiled a new mentoring scheme to help barristers with young families return to work.

The new Maternity Mentoring Scheme will see more experienced parents — who have successfully juggled work and home commitments to carve out a flourishing legal career — impart their wisdom to more junior members who are contemplating a career break, are currently on parental leave, or are returning to practice.

Acting as valuable source of advice, guidance and information, the Bar Council hopes the new initiative will help the profession stem the loss of top legal talent, especially among women.

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said:

The self-employed nature of much of our profession makes it harder to take time out and return to work after becoming a parent. Equally, many employed barristers will look to their representative body, the Bar Council, for support. Parenthood should not mean an end to a flourishing career at the Bar.

According to the Bar Council, early feedback from those involved in the scheme is positive. One barrister — who wished to remain anonymous — said:

I wholeheartedly support the Bar’s new Maternity Mentoring Scheme. Women at the Bar need this support at a time when they are torn between their career and having a baby. They need to know that they are not alone, that they can maintain a career and a family if that is what they want and that the world will not end if a child develops chicken pox on the morning of an important hearing.

The scheme is just one of a number of initiatives launched by the Bar Council to help improve the retention rates of barrister parents.

Earlier this year the Bar Council confirmed that it was to extend its nursery facilities to Leeds, after a successful venture in London. The new barrister baby crèche — which is open fro from 7.30am to 6pm — is available at a discounted rate.

According to Legal Cheek’s Chambers Most List, 37 sets have less than 20% women QCs. Meanwhile seven chambers had none at all.