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Bar Council ditches London nursery scheme for barristers’ babies

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Four years after its launch

The Bar Council has confirmed this week that it’s ditched a pioneering nursery service designed to help barristers with young children.

The scheme was launched in April 2013 and was operated out of Smithfield House Children’s Nursery in Smithfield, London — just by the Old Bailey. The facility is open 8am to 6pm five days a week and can cater for the needs of up to 40 children, aged between eight weeks and five years. The nursery, until very recently, offered reduced rates to barristers, chambers’ employees and Bar Council staff.

However, the representative body for barristers across England and Wales has now scrapped the scheme. A spokesperson confirmed that Smithfield House — which also accepts the children of non-barristers — was now operating at full capacity, so the Bar Council had agreed to “discontinue the partnership going forward”. The spokesperson added:

The Bar Council is also exploring other ways to support barristers with childcare responsibilities.

The decision is unlikely to sit well with champions of gender diversity at the bar. In 2015, a Bar Council report entitled ‘Snapshot: The Experience of Self-Employed Women at the Bar’ suggested that balancing family life and a career was “hugely problematic”. This is particularly true for those advocates working in legal aid. The report said:

The legal aid cuts are a threat to all members of our profession, but they perhaps have the most significant impact on those who are primary carers, of whom the majority are women… [W]hen income cannot cover the costs of childcare we are potentially creating ‘no go’ areas of practice for women. That is bad for justice and for society as a whole.

But while London barristers will have to make other childcare arrangements, the barrister nursery in Leeds remains unaffected by this week’s announcement. The Tiny Tree Nursery, close to the city centre, struck a similar deal with the Bar Council as Smithfield House had, and continues to provide discounted childcare for barristers’ kids.

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17 Comments

Anonymous

Objection, M’Lud…..etc etc etc

Anonymous

Eagerly awaiting Not Amused’s rant on this subject, blaming it on the regulators, BSB, the society we live in etc.

Zachary Bredemear

Isn’t the story here that after a lot of hard work a nursery a short distance from the Old Bailey was established and has now become self-supporting?

Anonymous

There’s an excellent argument for the Inns providing space for a nursery or creche among their extensive estates. The Inner Temple, for example, houses not only various chambers and accommodation for senior members, but also the offices of the Council of the Inns of Court, the Temple Church Office, the Temple Music Foundation, some infrequently-used rooms as part of an “advocacy suite” for students, a carpentry shop, and various other bits and bobs. It would be comparatively easy to set aside a few rooms in one of the buildings to house a creche capable of serving 10-30 children, and I doubt it would be difficult to find a commercial provider willing to use the space to offer an OFSTED-compliant service. The Smithfield House scheme was too far from the Inns to be well-used by barristers anyway. The Inns need to recognise this need and demand among their clientele and make room to service it.

Anonymous

Yes, maybe this is what Lincoln’s Inn’s ludicrous new basement project can be used for.

Pantman

There’s an excellent argument for the Inns providing space for a nursery or creche among their extensive estates…

Doesn’t Lincolns Inn already do that? I’ve seen Jacob Rees-Mogg wandering around in his nappy.

Trumpenkrieg

8 weeks is a little young to be left in a nursery isn’t it? The bond between mother and baby is surely still forming at that stage.

(INB4 autistic screeching from gender denialists).

Gender denialist

FUCKING NORMIEEE. REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Anonymous

You aren’t going to leave an 8 week old in nursery for a whole day, you fvcking straw man.

Trumpenkrieg

How do you know?

Anonymous

Because you eat your young Trumpenkreig.

SingaporeSwing

The problem with this initiative is that it was simply too expensive.

Surprised it lasted this long really.

Anonymous

I’m sure the Bar Council will come up with some genius advice like “Don’t have kids then”

Anonymous

🙁

Anonymous

Legal Cheek, you’re looking beautiful today!

Anonymous

Leaving any child that is too young to tell you what kind of day it has had in a nursery is monstrous.

Mine didn’t go until they were old enough to be able to tell me whether they had a good time or a bad time and could socialise with other children.

If you’re going to dump your offspring from eight weeks, why bother having them in the first place?

Pantman

The other thing, of course, is that some will get shipped off to boarding school aged 11.

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