News

Diversity isn’t working, says Somali refugee who beat odds to become a barrister

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Hashi Mohamed was raised exclusively on state benefits, and he believes open recruitment has made ‘little if any difference’

A barrister who moved to London as an unaccompanied child refugee aged nine and was raised “exclusively on benefits” has said that “‘diversity’ and ‘open recruitment’ have tried but made little if any difference.”

These controversial words are those of No5 Chambers barrister Hashi Mohamed, a commercial litigation and public law specialist of seven years call. Despite his rags to riches success story, he believes that those in the top professions, like the bar, “naturally recruit in their own image.” This means that the vast majority are excluded from accessing these top professions.

This belief comes despite a swathe of law firm and chambers-led diversity initiatives. In the past few years, law firms in particular have been ultra-conscious of their gender and ethnic make-up, many publishing female partner targets. Though chambers have been notably less regimented here, the introduction of nurseries for barristers’ babies and bar-specific LGBT networks, for example, shows there is some appetite for change.

Other contentious points to feature in Oxford graduate Mohamed’s The Guardian piece include his scepticism about the value of hard work. He believes ‘hard work = upwards social mobility’ is a complete myth. So much more is required, such as luck, the right teachers at the right time and sustained stability, which he implies is what got him to the top. He continues:

Is my route possible for anyone in the next generation with whom I share a similar background? I believe not.

Mohamed’s piece, ‘Telling children ‘hard work gets you to the top’ is simply a lie’, finishes with a nugget of advice. Straying from the more common ‘just be yourself’ line, the former BBC broadcast journalist who did his pupillage at 39 Essex Street before joining No5, believes:

You need to find the right way to speak to different people, at different times in different contexts.

This was a theme explored at length by Mohamed, whose family is from Somalia, in his BBC Radio 4 documentary Adventures in Social Mobility.

Here, Mohamed admitted that during his pupillage hunt he spoke to former 2 Temple Gardens director and friend Elizabeth Rantzen about how to “improve his fit”.

Rantzen explained that barristers are often very cultured people, who like to share “fine wine, maybe football, often cricket and very often opera” with their colleagues. If you share these interests, it’s easier to establish a relationship with your future chamber mates. She went as far as to take Mohamed to a classic music concert with her, which he believes “widened his job prospects.”

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73 Comments

Jones Day Partner

That’s preposterous — one of the trainees in last year’s cohort was black. I made sure she received the *full* benefits of my supervision!

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(10)(37)

NQ2BE

If you thought that was humerous you are indeed gravely mistaken.

(19)(3)

Anonymous

OMG! Slavery imagery????

WTF is wrong with you, you smelly bellend?

I hope LC sends your IP address to the police.

HATE CRIME!!!!

(3)(7)

Jones Day Partner

I don’t take kindly to being called a smelly bellend.

Take that back.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

The thoughts of people like you, which lead to comments like that, is the exact reason why this article was written in the first place. Shame on you

(3)(1)

Jones Day Partner

That’s not the point.

Calling someone a “smelly bellend” is rude and downright offensive.

(0)(1)

Amazed at the thin-skinned partner

Honestly! One can’t make a vile and racist comment without being subject to childish insults anymore?

What’s the world coming to?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The optimal word being “one” of the trainees, not a few which is what the article discusses.

(0)(0)

Gregory Lauder Frost

If he’s so displeased with the way thing are in Britain, I’m sure there are some grand opportunities awaiting him at the Mogadishu Bar.

(11)(66)

Anonymous

Gregzy mate, aren’t you the guy who was sent to prison in 1992 for stealing £110k from a London health authority where you were payroll manager?

(16)(0)

Anonymous

There’s an element of biting the hand that feeds one, non?

(1)(9)

Anonymous

You’re an idiotic fool!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes. That advances the argument a great deal.

Now, would any adults care to respond to the proposition “there’s an element of biting the hand that feeds one”?

(0)(0)

Bumblebee

The lack of ‘diversity’ at the Bar can be explained by the lack of good-quality BME applicants coming through the system. This is more than evident from the BSB’s own figures:

Between 2011 and 2013, 1,963 white students completed the BPTC. Of those, 296 (15.1%) attained a grade of ‘Outstanding’, whilst 108 (5.5%) failed the course altogether.

Over the same period, 376-386* black students completed the BPTC. Of those, just 2 – 8 (0.5 – 2.1%) attained a grade of ‘Outstanding’, whilst 88 (22.8 – 23.4%) failed the course altogether.

Put another way, white candidates are approximately 4x less likely to fail the BPTC than their black counterparts, and somewhere between 7 and 30x more likely to get an Outstanding. Given that the BSB’s own figures show that BPTC grade is a far better predictor of gaining pupillage than either degree grade or university attended, it’s little wonder that so few black students are getting pupillage.

People can argue that black people have fewer opportunities in early life and that this impacts their GCSE grades, A-level grades, University attended etc. People can likewise argue that pupillage committees are inherently biased and therefore subconsciously discriminate against black candidates. But, for all its faults, the BPTC is an extremely well-standardised course. Everyone, regardless of background, has access to the same teaching and access to the same course materials. Likewise, for the most part, everyone sits the same, blindly-marked exams. And yet, despite all of this, white candidates still significantly out-perform their black counterparts.

Clearly, therefore, any attempt to promote diversity for diversity’s sake – at least at the BPTC/Pupillage stage – is foolish and misguided. Given the current pool of candidates available, a system which solely rewards merit must necessarily come at the expense of diversity. This may be a bitter pill for the politically correct brigade to swallow, but the facts speak for themselves; the data clearly show a significant gap in the average aptitude of white and black applicants, and therefore we should EXPECT a significant gap in attainment.

Now, I am not suggesting that the Bar should abandon its commendable attempts to tear down barriers and improve ACCESS to the Bar. It might be the case, for example, that for whatever reason gifted black students are simply less likely to apply to the BPTC than their white counterparts. Indeed, speaking as someone who myself comes from a ‘non-traditional background’, I have no doubt that some such barriers continue to exist; and no candidate should be led to believe that their creed, colour or gender makes them any better or worse suited to a career at the Bar. However, it’s important not to oversimplify the problem and blindly ascribe a lack of diversity in the profession to systemic prejudice.

It’s likewise important to recognise that promoting ACCESS is not the same as promoting DIVERSITY. All too often people conflate the two. The first speaks to opportunity whereas the second speaks to results. Our only duty is to level the playing field, not the score.

Moreover, access aside, it is undoubtedly the case that there is a disproportionately large number of poor-quality black candidates applying to the BPTC. The figures clearly show that, whatever it is that explains the lack of good-quality black candidates, it is NOT a belief in the black community that the Bar is closed to people of colour. Therefore, we need to be very careful to ensure that we are sending the right message – namely, “the Bar is open to all people who have the ability, regardless of their colour”, NOT “we need more black candidates pursuing a career at the Bar”. In other words, what we need is a colour-blind system, NOT this ridiculous, facile, intellectually dishonest, politically-driven system we currently have, which is absolutely OBSESSED with people’s ethnicities and increasing ‘diversity’.

In this regard, I am sorry to say that LC is very much part of the problem. Every article questions why there are so few black barristers, rather than why there are so few good-quality black candidates. I have read many articles lamenting the underrepresentation of minority groups at the Bar. However, I have never read any acknowledgement whatsoever of the marked disparity in attainment between different ethnic groups at the application stage.

The BSB, Media and scorned students can whinge, whine, bleat and screech all they want, but sets of chambers will NOT start recruiting sub-par applicants simply because it promotes diversity in the profession. Unlike law firms, for example, chambers are far less invested in promoting a politically correct corporate message, and thus far more invested in recruiting candidates based on merit alone.

Please abandon this relentless and myopic pursuit of ‘diversity’. And please, please, please, PLEASE, for the LOVE OF GOD, stop assuming that differences in attainment between whites/blacks, males/females, state-school/public school, northerners/southerners, gay/straight, left-handed/right-handed are always and necessarily attributable to systemic prejudice. It’s statistics 101: correlation does not imply causation, and just because any one group is underrepresented at the Bar, it does not necessarily mean that that group is discriminated against.

*When the number of students falling into a particular category is particularly low, the BSB merely states the number as being ‘< 5’, ‘< 10’ or ‘<15’. This is the case for black students attaining the grade of ‘Outstanding’ in the years 2011 and 2013, and the grade of ‘Not Yet Competent’ in 2011. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the exact number of black students who completed the BPTC over that time period, nor is it possible state exactly how many black students attained a grade of ‘Outstanding’. Nevertheless, there is sufficient information to calculate a reasonably narrow range of possible values.

(93)(15)

Anonymous

… Who are you and what have you done with Not Amused?

(20)(0)

Anonymous

Something something structural disadvantages

(3)(7)

Anonymous

“People can argue that black people have fewer opportunities in early life and that this impacts their GCSE grades, A-level grades, University attended etc. People can likewise argue that pupillage committees are inherently biased and therefore subconsciously discriminate against black candidates. But, for all its faults, the BPTC is an extremely well-standardised course. Everyone, regardless of background, has access to the same teaching and access to the same course materials. Likewise, for the most part, everyone sits the same, blindly-marked exams. And yet, despite all of this, white candidates still significantly out-perform their black counterparts.”

The second half of this paragraph doesn’t really address the counterarguments you’ve posited.

(14)(14)

Anonymous

Yes it does. Even when the playing field is level, white candidates still significantly outperform black candidates.

What’s not to get?

(13)(20)

Anonymous

No, it doesn’t. The response to the counterarguments points to the BPTC’s practical equality w/ regard to taking the assessments. It does not account for the circumstances highlighted in the counterarguments which may affect performance.

For example, if you sprained your ankle and I asked you to participate in a footrace, you may not perform as well even if the race is fair and the other participants don’t have some logistical advantage.

(19)(10)

Bumblebee

I was talking about the fact that early-life opportunities can affect (pre-BPTC) ATTAINMENT.

You, on the other hand, seem to be saying that early-life opportunities can affect APTITUDE.

With respect, this makes the point I’m making even more obvious. When searching for the fastest runners, we can’t start awarding medals to invalids on the basis that they would have run faster but for their disability.

(18)(6)

Anonymous

Nope. I, like you, and focusing on the BPTC. Your latest response, however, seems to skip over the BPTC entirely, which is inappropriate, as it is arguably the key requisite to attaining pupilage. If I graduated with sub-par pre-BPTC qualifications as a consequence of the ‘fewer opportunities’ you highlighted, and managed to enrol on the BPTC, it’s likely that my ‘attainment’ on the course will reflect this.

Also, you’ve completely misunderstood the analogy I used. I did not suggest that unfit people should be awarded medals. All I suggested that the broadbrush generalisations you came to in your original comment about course attainment and race are inappropriate, as you removed them from context.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

“Your latest response, however, seems to skip over the BPTC entirely, which is inappropriate, as it is arguably the key requisite to attaining pupilage”.

A surprising claim as only the other day, the LC commentariat appeared to be unanimous in their view that the BPTC was a waste of money, when commenting on a Bradford Snowflake’s demands that her Inn finance her BPTC.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Tip number 1: don’t take anything anyone says on this site seriouly. They talk out their own asses the whole time.

Bumblebee

“Your latest response, however, seems to skip over the BPTC entirely, which is inappropriate, as it is arguably the key requisite to attaining pupilage [sic].”

– With respect, this comment betrays your complete lack of familiarity with the issues on which you’re expressing an opinion. Very, very, very few sets pay any attention whatsoever to BPTC grade; those that do pay it very little weight; and NO set requires candidates for pupillage to have commenced the BPTC.

– Incidentally, this is why it is so noteworthy that BPTC attainment is a better predictor of candidates’ pupillage prospects than degree grade or university attended. Indeed, that fact is quite incredible given that many sets take university attended into consideration and all sets take degree grade into consideration.

“If I graduated with sub-par pre-BPTC qualifications as a consequence of the ‘fewer opportunities’ you highlighted, and managed to enrol on the BPTC, it’s likely that my ‘attainment’ on the course will reflect this.”

– Again with respect, you’re failing to grasp a very important difference between aptitude and attainment. Pupillage committees are not blind to candidates’ pre-BPTC qualifications. Therefore such qualifications can be, and indeed are, reflected in pupillage decisions. BPTC assessments, however, ARE blind to pre-BPTC qualifications. Therefore BPTC attainment cannot, and does not, reflect candidates’ pre-BPTC qualifications per se.

– That said, both pre-BPTC qualifications and BPTC attainment HEAVILY reflect candidates’ underlying APTITUDE. Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that pre-BPTC qualifications and BPTC attainment fail to DIRECTLY influence one another, there is nonetheless strong correlation between them.

– BPTC attainment reflects APTITUDE not pre-BPTC ATTAINMENT.

“Also, you’ve completely misunderstood the analogy I used. I did not suggest that unfit people should be awarded medals.”

– No. I completely understood your analogy, and I even met you on your own terms, using your own analogy to show why your view is misguided. You were suggesting that even if the BPTC is fairly assessed, candidates who had few opportunities in early life may be ill-equipped to do well in BPTC assessments. That may well be the case. However, if candidates do not have the basic reasoning, learning and literacy skills to do well on the BPTC, they are quite obviously ill-equipped to attain pupillage.

“All I suggested that the broadbrush [sic] generalisations you came to in your original comment about course attainment and race are inappropriate, as you removed them from context.”

– The FIGURES I quoted cannot be reasonably argued as being taken out of context, since the context I took them from was official BPTC statistics on BPTC grade, broken down by race.

– Likewise, my CONCLUSION that “the data clearly show a significant gap in the average aptitude of white and black applicants, and therefore we should EXPECT a significant gap in attainment” cannot be reasonably argued as being taken out of context, since I made it in the midst of my own comment; I am the one determining the context.

– I am therefore I am slightly perplexed as to what you mean when you say my ‘original comment about course attainment and race’ was inappropriate on account of being taken out of context. I can only imagine that what you meant to say was that my conclusion re: BPTC attainment vis-à-vis pre-BPTC qualifications was wrong, which either (a) reflects a fundamental misunderstanding on your part of the difference between attainment and aptitude, or (b) requires you to believe that ill-equipped candidates deserve pupillages (or, to use your analogy, invalids deserve medals).

Anonymous

“People can argue that black people have fewer opportunities in early life and that this impacts their GCSE grades, A-level grades, University attended etc.”

I think it’s taken for granted that someone who went to a public school then Oxford is more likely to get an Outstanding on the bar course than someone who went to shitchester poly and London Met. He says that the bar course is standardised and therefore black students have no excuse, failing completely to link the two things. If someone received bad education from a young age then they aren’t going to be as good a candidate when they reach 23 – that seems extremely obvious.

(8)(5)

Anonymous

Hence my structural comment. His entire paragraph is wanky waffle when deconstructed.

(1)(8)

Bumblebee

It’s interesting that you both assume I’m male, and I apologise if what I wrote was unclear. However, it is not ‘wanky waffle’.

Let me put it like this. Lots of Noble-prize winners have benefitted from fantastically privileged educational opportunities. I note that very few illiterate Cambodian peasants have won a Nobel prize.

Should we: (A) Level the playing field by providing educational opportunities to Cambodian peasants, or (B) Level the score by handing out Nobel prizes to Cambodian peasants?

(14)(3)

Anonymous

Not sure that “providing educational opportunities” for the peasants is going to work. That only removes the act of positive discrimination from the Nobel prize panel and bestows it upon the education authority or educational trust or such like.

A better solution is socialism. The level playing field – the tide that rises all boats – is a more materially equal society, not a society which is simply more sensitive to the varying complaints of disparate minorities. The forcible redistribution of wealth, and/or the closure of public schools, is the only way you could prevent the many advantages of private education from improving students’ chances of pupillage.

And a much less drastic course of action would simply be to end the bar.

(1)(6)

Anonymous

C) Put a Cambodian peasant on the Nobel Prize award committee. More often than not, people with the power to choose winners will select winners who resemble them. What merits merit should not be decided by any particular group.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

The fairness of the course is inconsequential in the context of this argument. Of course the Oxford grad is likely to do better. The only point I’m making is that the reasons behind their doing better are not as simple as Bumblebee suggests.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

A thousand times this.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Brilliant response, probably the best thing posted on Legal Cheek for a long, long time.

(10)(3)

Anonymous

Bumblebee’s post is absolutely brilliant.

I would add that the black population in the UK is c. 3%, white c. 86% yet these figures indicate that only 5 times as many white students take the BPTC. So black students are 5-6 times more likely to take the BPTC than are white students. Some of this is accounted for by foreign students but surely not all.

This all entirely tallies with my experience where the average black student was not as good as the average white student but was more confident about obtaining pupillage – likely because below-par white students are more likely to have access to realistic advice about the Bar.

(17)(6)

Incognito

Absolutely superb contribution from ‘Bumblebee’; many thanks for the injection of sanity into a contentious issue.

(14)(3)

Anonymous

Can you link to the statistics you cite please?

A few points:

> Are you talking only about black candidates rather than all BME candidates? It would be helpful to consider outcomes for all non-white BPTC candidates rather than only black candidates.

> Showing that white students tend to do better than BME students on the BPTC does not, in isolation, show that there is no prejudice in pupillage decisions. The relevant question is does the ethnic make-up of pupils match the ethnic make-up of viable pupillage candidates.

> Accordingly, if we’re using the BPTC as a guide, the relevant questions are: what is the proportional ethnic make-up of candidates achieving O and VC on the BPTC and what is the proportional ethnic make-up of pupils? Looking at either one of these questions on its own can’t tell you anything about whether there is prejudice in pupillage decisions.

> There might also be sub-questions within this – eg ethnic background of candidates with a first class degree and O on BPTC and ethnic background of pupils at top 20 sets.

> By the same token, also irrelevant to the q of whether there is discrimination in pupillage decisions is the ethnic background of those candidates who fail the BPTC, since they are ineligible for pupillage.

> Finally, are these figures inclusive or exclusive of non-EU students? It’s unhelpful to include the non-EU BPTC candidates in the tally, as they are (1) largely not going to be applying for pupillage here, (2) much more likely to fail and (3) disproportionately BME.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Tl;dr — “I’m just better than them, ok”

(4)(2)

Anonymous

“You need to find the right way to speak to different people, at different times in different contexts.”

This is 100% fact! You can’t and shouldn’t have to please everyone and know everything but coming from an unrepresented background do be aware of the things people above you are interested in and widen your scope just to get your foot in and be liked. Sad but real truth

(7)(0)

Not Amused

I think it is well known that I question the value of these anecdotal pieces. Particularly as they are founded quite strongly on identity politics (which I have always found a flawed argument).

What matters to me, always, is the message given to the young people who read pieces like this. Because to me they say “don’t bother applying”. Now if anyone were to expressly state that kids from diverse backgrounds should not apply to the Bar then I would be first in the queue to condemn them.

What then of those who recklessly do so?

Because from where I stand, the effect is just as bad. What am I therefore to do? We have a published article by an individual I believe wants more social mobility. That article is about a man who laments the lack of social mobility. Yet the impact of the article can, on no reading, be beneficial for social mobility.

I am left with typing my fingers are on this site – to much hostility – trying to repair the harm.

For the avoidance of doubt the suggestion you need to like football, fine wine or classical music in order to get pupillage is absurd. For the avoidance of doubt – kids from diverse backgrounds (with strong academics, a track record in public speaking, a love of law) must apply for pupillage.

(8)(7)

J.V. Jarndyce

Re ‘don’t bother applying’ reading of this, if you listen to Mohamed’s Radio 4 piece, he considers whether or not it is right to encourage all people from disadvantaged/BME backgrounds to aim for an elite profession such as the bar when statistically, very few will make it. He concludes that it’s better to tell them they can do it, because so many others in their lives tell them (implicitly or explicitly) that they can’t.

He gives talks in person to those young people to encourage them. He has also written this Guardian article pricking the consciences of its readers, unlikely to be the same constituency. This is another case, rightly, of “speaking the right way to different people, at different times in different contexts.”

(7)(1)

Anonymous

“I am left with typing my fingers are on this site – to much hostility – trying to repair the harm.”

You really do talk rubbish. Always.

(1)(0)

Chancery tenant

I completely agree with this sadly. The thing is, many lawyers don’t know any different, or forget they ever did, so they think that the whole world is like them.

(4)(0)

Head of Chambers

Get back to work!

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I think it’s hard to argue with this: “Improving educational attainment is critical, and so much progress has been made over the years to improve this. But this is not enough. Employers must see hiring youngsters from poorer backgrounds as good for business as well as for a fairer society. They must be assisted with a real chance to succeed, in a non-judgmental context and inclusive environment. They must do more to focus on potential rather than polish. More leadership and more risk-taking are required on this front.”

The Bar is not achieving this at this stage.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

He comes across as chippy and ungrateful for the free opportunities this country has given him.

(6)(16)

Anticolonialist

I suppose he should ponder the free opportunities given to him by this country as he also considers the wealth the Brits

(5)(3)

Anonymous

Clearly it was not the ‘free opportunities’ which paved his way to the Bar. To get to Oxford and to the Commercial Bar is expensive. So your comment is redundant.

Also, do clarify by what you mean by ‘free opportunities’? Surely the former would be irrelevant to describe the latter?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, but how much does he bench?

(11)(0)

Anonymous

“He believes ‘hard work = upwards social mobility’ is a complete myth.” Crisps=impeccable pectorals by the same logic. Therefore if these factors are taken into consideration, bro doesn’t lift at all. Sad face.

(1)(1)

Anticolonialist

….stole from Somalia! …

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I think LC have figured out the secret to raking in that sweet, elusive ad revenue. They simply need to include the word “diversity” in the headline and they can sit back and watch the whole legal profession flock to the comments section.

(12)(0)

Somali Solicitor

Whilst I laud LC’s praiseworthy attempt to include ‘black’ men in their ‘diversity’, unfortunately it has some way to go to escape from its emic perception.

Somalis do not consider themselves black and find the denotation insulting.

Hoping my comment will not be deleted for want of whiteness

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Insulting? What’s wrong with being black?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I’m sorry, are you seriously suggesting that a successful barrister should remove their own perceptions and critical thinking in describing their own experiences for the benefit of those who share their background because they happen to be an immigrant? That kinda obtuseness kinda makes me want to remove the hard of thinking – irrespective of its national origin.

(5)(0)

Juan Pena.

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(2)

black bar black sheep

Meh. Thats one Rushton-esque racist comment. Damn I thought I was in an evolutionary psychology class for moment. Remember, for all you wanna be lawyers out there the golden rule in practise is don’t believe everything you read. Ask yourself this: who is Bumblebee, where is he/her from, what does he/her do, what his/hers agenda, where did he/she get their statistics from, who conducted those statistics, what is their agenda, etc. As for a standardised BPTC …… lol fat chance. The BPTC is biased to its core, act white, think white and you will be alright. Hashi Mohamed is not just black, but a refugee and muslim. But oh wait he was oxbridge educated …… lol to funny to make up; and his complaining about diversity lol. Come guys isn’t it telling “fine wine, maybe football, often cricket and very often opera”. All those things, apart from ‘ maybe’ football, are not
very universal. In fact there pretty much your white male middle/upper class oxbridge educated standard. The truth is if your not a white middle/ upper class oxbridge educated all of our chances are just as low as BME’s in trying to enter the legal profession and being successful in it. The sooner we all realise that, the sooner this damn profession will culturally change. The sooner the better for all us: blacks, whites, jews and gentiles.

(8)(10)

Anonymous

Shockingly poor spelling, grammar and analysis.
The very reason applications for most anything (except psychology) get binned … 😁

(3)(0)

Liberturd

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Lounes Matoub

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

More importantly, do alligators alligate?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Bar after Oxford is not ‘beating the odds’.

(4)(0)

Bullawoola

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Wickrama Parathana

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

The industry isn’t joined up right. Inns are keen to improve access (and therefore diversity) at the Bar, BPTC providers siphon enormous sums of money from people who will likely never become barristers, and chambers are not necessarily outwardly prejudiced, but by virtue of being populated by human beings, tend to gravitate towards people of their own ilk. And statistically, at the moment and taken in the round, it’s a biiiiiiig BME/poor-born trap.

(0)(0)

BLAME

I note several posts about how ungrateful foreigner comes here, gets loads of freebies, succeeds and then moans about the country that gave him the opportunities have been deleted without even an acknowledgment that they were here.

Thought crime?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Refugees should never be grouped together as ‘grateful’ or ‘ungrateful’. A country which grants asylum-seekers refugee status is not doing it out of kindness; it has to do it because of its obligations under international law. If the application is genuine, then refugee status must be conferred.

So don’t shit-stir.

(5)(0)

NM AVFC

Just look at these firms recruitment policies, a lot stipulate AAA or AAB yet it Dosent correlate to how good a practitioner you will be. Its lazy recruitment and maintains the middle class bubble in these professions. For example someone whose parents got them tuition or private education, didn’t divorce or have any turbulence at home faces a massive advantage in regards to being recruited by these firms. The mitigating circumstances usually aren’t looked at, and even if you put that you are a member of aspiring solicitors, SEO London, Rare etc, the firms don’t really consider it. It all seems to be for their slick marketing and so they can keep up with the other firms. They might hire the odd token disadvantaged candidate but to me if you look closely enough it shows that they keep hiring the same type of people from the same places with the same stable upbringings. Other individuals who have faced hardship could bring a lot to the profession, particularly in regards to resilience, as to them stress at the workplace would likely be a piece of cake compared to growing up in challenging conditions. Certainly much more than those in that middle class bubble who crumble at the first sign of pressure or having to go into their overdraft

(4)(3)

A dose of Lefty-bullshit-free truth

You can’t keep blaming other people for your poor/crap A-level grades forever. The same goes for your GCSE’s.

I grew up in a terraced house in a deprived northern town, with parents on minimum wage jobs (both separated too, mind) yet still managed A*AAA.

Do you know why? Because education is FREE. Being motivated and working hard is FREE. Revision guides are so cheap at GCSE and A-Level, there really is no excuse. You merely have to put the time in, be organised and just read the damn things. Even tough subjects like Biology and Chemistry are understandable if you bothered to revise.

You either tried really hard and didn’t do so well, in which case the bar isn’t right for you then anyway, because this demonstrates you are not academically able. Or, perhaps you just didn’t revise or work hard during the academic year. Perhaps the latter is the case, but it still isn’t your fault ‘because I am from a poor background and I did not have a fancy tutor to help me’.

Stop blaming other people. Stop making excuses. Just get on with it! This ‘I feel sorry for myself’ attitude will only get you so far in life. Actually, scratch that, it will not get you far at all.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

I rather suspect the point regarding the difficulties faced by those from less affluent backgrounds however is quite valid.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t think that there is racial prejudice at the bar, and this individual kind of proves that.

If you fit the ilk, the bar will take you, regardless of the colour of your skin. The problem is that a lot of the bar is elitist and exclusive to those that come from the same background.

This individual may differ in terms of colour, and upbringing, but he went to the right schools, got the right grades. That is more important to certain sections of the bar than anything else.

The problem is this, had this guy gone to a state comprehensive, gone to a non-Russell Group university and got the same grades, would he have still managed to succeed at the bar as he has done? I would say that gaining access to the bar with that background, regardless of the colour of your skin, is far harder.

Not impossible, I did it, but not easy either. The choices on offer when entering from that background are much slimmer.

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LL and P

Do you know anything about the guy who wrote the article? Did you do any reading? The guy went to failing state schools then Herts Uni. He then got a scholarship to do an MSc in African Studies at Oxford.

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Anonymous

Bumblebee’s original comment without doubt made for a more informative and interesting read than this shite article.

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Benny Goodman

I note that this barrister’s actual article is entirely about class. It seems to me that the exact same article could have been written by someone of any racial background who had come from a similar socioeconomic background.

Interestingly, many commentators have fixated on the race issue and some have asked whether he is biting the hand that feeds him. Why is that?

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Anonymous

Diversity – the trigger word of the right. “Not on my watch that is asking for too much equality in 2017”!

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