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Privately-educated kids continue to dominate bar despite two thirds of barristers snubbing regulator’s request for schooling info

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Overrepresented among pupils, barristers and QCs

Eton College, Windsor

Sixty-three percent of the barristers asked what type of school they attended have not given an answer. And, pretty shockingly, even if every single person that didn’t answer did go to a state school, the privately educated would still be overrepresented.

The startling statistics show that, of the small percentage of people that actually answered the question, about a third were independent school-educated. Overall then, including the 63% of barristers on which there’s no information, 12% went to private schools. That’s almost double that of the United Kingdom as a whole (7%).

Image credit: Bar Standards Board

The most forthcoming with their schooling status were pupil barristers, who provided data in 67% of cases. Interestingly, they’re also the most likely to have attended a state school: 45%. At the practising bar, data was collected only from 36% of respondents; 21% of practising barristers were state school-educated. QCs were the least forthcoming, just 20% giving data. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, QCs are the least likely of all the groups to have come through state education: 8%.

But why is the response rate so low? Have barristers actively chosen not to answer the question, or is it just the product of laziness? Unfortunately, even the Bar Standards Board (BSB), which released the statistics, isn’t sure. A BSB spokesperson told us:

“Our diversity data merely reports on the information we hold about how barristers responded when answering these questions. It is true that the number of barristers not answering the question about the type of school they attended is high in comparison to the data we hold about other characteristics, but we cannot speculate on why this might be.”

Other interesting takeaways from the statistics, released today, include the ages of trainee barristers.

For those keen to don a horsehair and gown, the most standard (and perhaps ideal) route into the profession is: degree, Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and, fingers crossed, a pupillage offer in your first round of applications. If you’re lucky enough to blitz the process like this, you could be a pupil by 22 and qualified by 23.

The 2018 Chambers Most List

However, the new statistics show the vast majority of pupils (323) are older than 25, with just 96 younger than that. Percentage-wise, that means just 22% of pupils are younger than 25, while your chance of actually practising at the bar at this tender age is a measly 3%. The response rate for the age at the bar question was 82%.

Readers may also be interested to know that the proportion of women at the bar has increased by half a percentage point since last year. Women now make up 37% of the practising bar (though female pupils actually outnumber male pupils 52 to 48). The percentage of barristers from ethnic minority backgrounds has also increased by half a percentage point, to just shy of 13%.

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80 Comments

Anonymous

What a misuse of statistics:

“The startling statistics show that, of the small percentage of people that actually answered the question, about a third were independent school-educated. Overall then, including the 63% of barristers on which there’s no information, 12% went to private schools. That’s almost double that of the United Kingdom as a whole (7%).”

The percentage of students in fee paying schools is around 7% generally but this rises to around 15% at sixth form (and then again at university – e.g. around 40% at Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol, around 30% at LSE and KCL, and around 20% at Birmingham, York and Manchester).

On that basis, suggesting that the percentage of privately-educated barristers should be around 7% is disingenuous.

(29)(10)

Anonymous

To be fair, this misuse of stats is actually the BSB report (rather than Legal Cheek) – it’s taken straight from the executive summary.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Dear old Eton, how I miss you, those halcyon days of toasting crumpets over an open fire and with a bat in one’s hands, giving those balls a good walloping across Agar’s Plough.

(5)(7)

Anonymous

And we can’t expect LC to do anything other than copy and paste of course…

(2)(1)

Sleepy lawyer

I’m not sure that’s true. To suggest that other factors may play a roll doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be 7%. Why should privately educated individuals make up 40% of oxbridge educated? Why 15% at sixth form (also, the leaving age for school is now 18, so how old are these figures?)?

Perhaps more detail is needed, but the 7% figure is still valid level to compare, and 1/3 of responded being from 7% of schools children is still worrying- even if it can’t be blamed on the bar.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

Trying to be Woke whilst feeling sleepy isn’t conducive to putting a good argument – how can the 7% figure be at all relevant when the Bar is a graduate profession and the statistics for University graduates are markedly different, especially for the Universities the Bar tends to recruit from?

(1)(3)

Sleepy lawyer

Woke? I mean, really?

The statistics for university might well be different, but that suggests an issue with social mobility more generally. As I said, that may not be the bars fault, but the bar is an example of that issue.

Secondly, even with the statistics being different it’s not 37.5% of graduates beings from privates schools (37.5% is roughly the percentage of those that replied, and stated they attended a fee paying school). That is still far to high a representation of a very small percentage of the population that attend those schools.

Now I agree it’s not something that can automatically be laid at the BSB or inns doors, but it is an issue as we’re clearly not getting the best to the bar if such a high proportion are coming from such a specific background. I don’t see why some people, not necessarily you, are getting so defensive about it.

(5)(1)

Not Amused

Identity politics is toxic.

I will always help aspiring young people regardless of back ground. But trying to condemn people based on the families they were born in to (poor or wealthy) is vile.

Using group identity to bully, to denounce or even to seek preferential treatment should be condemned by all. I agree with Dr King – I will judge individuals on their character. I will not judge by group identity.

Those who peddle this hate need to reflect and stop.

(33)(38)

Anonymous

So far as I can tell the article reports fairly neutrally on data reported by the BSB which shows a statistical over-representation of privately educated individuals at the bar. I fail to see how that amounts to “hate”, “bullying”, “denunciation” or “condemnation”. Get a grip Not Amused.

Also, invoking the memory of MLK to support your attack on the reporting of that data is absurd. I suggest you take a closer look at what MLK actually said and wrote: over-representation of the children of the wealthy in elite professions is precisely the sort of thing he would rail against were he alive today.

(29)(10)

Anonymous

touche

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Amen.

(5)(1)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

World stunned as Not Amused gets dunked on yet again.

(17)(8)

Trumpenkreig

Your mum asked me to dump on her last night

(3)(7)

Anonymous

Your mum asked me to dunk my baw sack in her eye sockets

(2)(4)

Anonymous

The BSB is making itself a laughing stock. It must make full compliance with surveys mandatory for all practising barristers. Barristers perform in effect, like it or not, an important public function. It is absurd that such a narrowly drawn group should have total dominance in this market. The time has come to kick out the privileged who got where they are on the back of where they came from and what type of school mummy and daddy could afford to send them to. Working people of the World unite and throw off the cancerous yoke that has usurped power and control to itself and its like.

(8)(22)

Anonymous

“It must make full compliance with surveys mandatory for all practising barristers.”

Plenty of people “prefer not to say” on characteristics like sexuality and religion which have nothing to do with an individual’s ability to perform the public function you refer to.

If you look at the table on page 8 of the report you can see that the response rate was lowest on the questions of religous belief and sexuality.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Shows that there is fear still within the Legal sector over being honest about issues of religion and sexuality. That is not something to be proud about.

(4)(7)

Anonymous

It shows nothing of the sort. It’s simply none of the regulator’s business what individual barristers believe.

(21)(3)

Anonymous

Why should matters of belief not be subject to disclosure to regulators? Those who think not obviously have no convictions in the beliefs and prefer to lurk in the shadows. It’s right that the regulator should have information on peoples’ religious beliefs as that ensures that there is not conscious or unconscious bias for or against recruiting peoples of certain faiths. It’s also right that they should have information on people’s sexuality as it shows whether or not homosexuals and bisexuals are being discriminated against in the selection process or in the workplace. Your anathema to the suggestion is a cloak for your own prejudices and the prospect of them being threatened and undermined by minority interests.

(2)(19)

Anonymous

Barristers conducting recruitment (quite properly) have no idea of the religion or sexuality of an applicant and I would consider it wildly inappropriate for a question on either to be asked in an interview context.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

I’ve sat on recruitment panels where the panel members have after the interview speculated about interviewees sexuality.

(3)(5)

Jones Day Partner

Well, we do have standards to uphold.

Anonymous

Occupy the Inns lives!

If only we could get Niteowl Attorney back, and with NA still going strong, we’d have a full house.

Glad those “Let’s go, champ” and 108.9 half-wits have fucked off though.

Anyway, didn’t KK and Tommy Biceps both go to private schools?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

There may be residual subconscious discrimination against persons who are overtly homosexual and/or bisexual in awarding pupillages or training contracts but I suspect that in the large majority of cases, recruitment committees will take the view that a candidate’s sexuality is none of their business provided that they dress and present themselves professionally and conservatively in interview. There remains work to be done in educating and addressing subconscious discrimination in the selection process but the distance we have travelled in recent decades is enormous. I attended a boys’ school where gays were referred to in derogatory terms as “shirtlifters” and “queers” and stories of “queer bashing” were commonplace. Attitudes have shifted to the extent that in most schools such behavior would be regarded as unthinkable today.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

Agreed. Unfortunately, such expressions are still all too frequently found in the law. People don’t say it as loudly today but it is said quietly behind people’s backs.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I’m a practising barrister and I have been in social settings with senior barristers who sit as deputy High Court judges were they have said atrocious things involving the sexuality of other lawyers.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Name them!

(0)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

An advocate is supposed to advocate. That’s why advocates wear conservative attire in court. It is not conducive to good advocacy to allow your appearance to detract from your advocacy. Why should it be any different for people who are “overtly homosexual and/or bisexual”? Would you be worried at all if you were facing a prison sentence and your case was being presented by a mincing, prancing, lisping, uptalking gay man? And the objection cuts both ways. Would you be worried if your case was being presented by an advocate who was too overtly heterosexual? I have seen female advocates who turn up at court with Louis Vuitton bags, fake tits, dyed blonde with roots and having applied a cauldron of lip gloss, with a million bracelets and jangling trinkets generally looking like they work in a brothel. If your sense of self worth is so precarious that your appearance has to be extreme before you can leave your front door, maybe you should choose a profession where being harshly judged for your appearance will not have such potentially detriment to the client on whose behalf you are working on.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Depends on the judge, with some such appearances ARE an advantage.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Some judges these days even turn up to sit in court looking that way themselves. We all know who they are.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Equality of opportunity is far more important than equality of representation.

(8)(3)

Anonymous

How can the opportunities be equal when the system is set to preserve the status quo?

(6)(3)

Anonymous

It’s pretty disgraceful that attack helicopters and eskimos are not making it to the bar! We need more diversity to incorporate these two vastly underrepresented segments of society!

(11)(5)

Anonymous

Feeling that your middle class privilege is under threat of siege?

(8)(7)

Anonymous

It’s not just middle-class parents who send their kids to private schools though, is it? Private schools can easily have kids who are growing up in working class households – their parents have either scraped and scrimped (although, obviously, this probably isn’t possible within the context of v expensive boarding schools), or the kid has received a bursary (not at all uncommon at both boarding and day private schools).

(2)(7)

Anonymous

What utter rot. Even if there are two such working class kids in the country, this does not outweigh the thousands benefiting from entrenched privilege.

You are the first I’ve ever heard pretend that boarding schools are great for social mobility. LOL.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Absolutely. The only people who go to state schools are those who parents don’t care about them. You’d have to be mad to send your kids to state schools. They are total shite.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Middle class??? How very dare you…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Perhaps we should require all people who have been privately educated to sew some sort of a badge on their clothes so that they can be singled out for special adverse treatment when applying for university places, jobs, or just generally going about their business? This would be the best way to ensure that we can identify them and counteract their conspiracies – by which they connive to give each other all the best positions – and undo any advantages caused by an accident of birth.

After all, why bother to select on merit when you know for a fact that people who have been privately educated are by definition bad people, and deserve everything they get?

Oh, wait a minute, hasn’t something like this been tried somewhere before?

(11)(10)

Anonymous

You don’t have to do that you cretin, you can already tell by someone’s accent.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

That’s how the middle classes have been able to weed out the working classes from the professions.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Point of information, the middle classes have been able to do that by ensuring that the state school system remains crap, not properly educating the majority of the state’s children and adults whilst sending their own Ruperts and Charlottes to fee paying schools.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Years ago they chose to wear school ties and signet rings albeit it to achieve the opposite outcome, namely preferential treatment.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Hardly surprising. People from private schools are so much better educated than their state school counterparts, and they are polished and confident.

(6)(10)

Anonymous

Yeah, confidence tricksters are also polished and confident.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Oh yeah, a private school, Oxbridge educated person is just so much more innately suited to administering and dispensing justice to the state school proles and upholding a social order which is designed to ensure shit floats to the top.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

A privately educated, Oxbridge person is certainly the best qualified to be a barrister, since he is better educated and brighter than anyone else. And since the public deserve the best people to represent them in court, it is in their interests and the interests of the administration of justice, that such people are actively pushed into the profession. It may be rather sweet that someone from a comp and Warwick university fancies being a barrister but there is more at stake than career aspiration.

(12)(19)

Anonymous

Do you really believe your own bollocks?

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah because it’s always comp Warwick students that put the administration of justice in jeopardy. I bet your own parents didn’t go to Oxbridge and that you were pushed and pushed by them to live their dream.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

One of my friends had the highest first in her year in law in Oxford, she got pushed out of the profession and had a smear campaign against her because she drew attention to corruption within the system.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

He/she has a point. People deserve the best and state schools produce the worst.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Abolish private schools.

(12)(6)

Anonymous

Agreed. It’s the only way.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Problem with that is that the state schools won’t be able to take in the extra students and the government won’t stump up the funding for the extra classes, teachers and classrooms and no government is going to increase taxes to pay for education. They’ll do it to fight wars in shithole countries but not to educate their own people.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

We should abolish state schools. Why should our taxes go to prop up a failed system which spews out, year on year, poorly educated, chippy people?

(13)(12)

Anonymous

Cretin

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Absolutely. It’s quite astonishing that the state subsidises these schools, which provide such a dreadful education. The private school system has always produced the brightest and the best. Frankly, if you can’t afford to educate your children privately, you shouldn’t have children. It really is an act of wanton cruelty to throw your kids into the bin of state education.

(6)(5)

Anonymous

No need to abolish them. Just remove the ridiculous charitable status, and expose them for the ruthless businesses that they are.

I went to boarding school by the way, and I’m a barrister, before anyone accuses me of being chippy.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Removing the charitable status would leave these schools with absolutely no incentive to offer bursaries to disadvantaged but bright kids.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Oh diddums. Two less poor kids would get to boarding school then, justifying the thousands of posh thickos who get a head start out of it.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Haha precisely. The rich just don’t want bright, poorer kids to climb up the system….Threatens the status-quo.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

You are aware that the majority of private schools aren’t boarding schools, right?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Oh, would somebody please think of all the poor armed forces children!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, it’s really a sensible use of taxpayers money to be sending the children of robots and canon fodder to the most privileged, exclusive schools in the world.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

You mean the best educated and those who hold the top positions in society. Look, everyone has their place. The lower orders – ie, those who go to state schools – should stick to what they are best at: working in bars and cleaning.

(5)(7)

Anonymous

I wouldn’t let you clean my ass, let alone represent or advise me.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

More importantly, where will the Royal Family go to finding breeding grounds for their heirs apparent if we do away with private schools???

(3)(1)

Anonymous

They’ll still have the debutante’s ball

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The Queen did away with that in the 50s, in the words of her sister, “every slut in London was turning up”. (Quite true btw)

(1)(0)

Anonymous

They still have the polo then

Anonymous

And Mahiki

Anonymous

So, the best educated people in the country tend to dominate one of the most difficult and important professions. Perhaps LC could run an article on the Pope’s Catholicism.

(21)(2)

Anonymous

And still the legal system ends up a broken failure not fit for purpose, funny that …

(6)(1)

Anonymous

What an idiotic comment

(1)(6)

JudgeMental

This is both shocking and news….said no one ever.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

In other news: the Pope is catholic, and bears sh1t in the woods.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Corbyn will fix the lot of you chinless tw@ts.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

Because peasants have always done well for this country.

(3)(0)

Lord Harley of Counsel

I am a humble Lad from Roch dale and the son of a loom tattler.

I still went to Oxford and got a double first.

Well I would have done if I wasn’t as thick as mince, so I tell everyone I have and bought a sweatshirt for added effect.

(11)(1)

Guardian of the constitution

diversity=marxism

time to move on. non conversation. the right people from state schools can still succeed (e.g. Denning)

(2)(1)

Comments are closed.

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