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Research: Bullying rife at criminal bar; less common among commercial barristers

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Reported observations of harassment soar across newly-woke bar

New stats show that more criminal barristers are victims of bullying and harassment than those in commercial practice.

Eighteen percent of those in criminal practice reported personal experience of bullying, while only 8% of their commercial and chancery counterparts reported the same. Twenty-six percent of criminal barristers reported observations of harassment compared to 16% in civil, commercial and chancery.

The findings come from the Barristers’ Working Lives 2017 survey, released by the Bar Council yesterday. A total of 4,092 respondents took part in this year’s survey, representing over a quarter of the profession. Of those surveyed, 87% were self-employed (i.e. practising within a chambers) and 13% were employed by a law firm or other organisation. Forty percent were women; 13% were BAME; 6% identified as LGBT and 6% declared a disability. The survey is the third of its type to be commissioned by the Bar Council with previous surveys running in 2011 and 2013.

There were some interesting further findings. Reports of bullying within the profession are up by around 5%, with 21% of employed and 12% of self-employed barristers reporting that they had personally experienced maltreatment at work. Reported observations of harassment have increased more sharply. Thirty percent of employed and 17% of self-employed barristers have reportedly witnessed abuse. This represents a rise of approximately 8% on the 2013 figure.

The 2018 Chambers Most List

It is unclear whether the increases are down to a rise in bullying and harassment or greater consciousness of these issues in the wake of the #MeToo movement sparked by various high profile recent scandals including figures such as the film producer, Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, the bar has launched its own campaign — ‘Behind the Gown’ — to tackle harassment. Could it be that the bar is more ‘woke’ than it used to be? It’s worth noting that the most common reason for harassment was related to gender (53%), with ethnicity at 16%.

Andrew Walker QC, chair of the bar, said:

“The results are a cause for concern and cannot be ignored. As a profession, we must do much better. We do not and will not tolerate harassment and bullying at the bar… I hope the findings in this latest report remind everyone to be vigilant and to take responsibility by challenging this behaviour. We must get much tougher on this and support each other better.”

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76 Comments

Anonymous

Snowflake QC

Anonymous

I left a “reputable” London commercial chancery set because the atmosphere was toxic, bullying and harassment were rife and started at the top down.

Anonymous

Some sets are just unpleasant places filled with unpleasant people. Everyone at the bar knows which sets they are and stays well clear of them. It’s unfortunate though that few prospective pupils have such knowledge. So you can get pupillage at a set with high profile marketing and snazzy PR and then discover in tenancy that you’re surrounded by cretinous arseholes.

Anonymous

You’re anonymous. Name the examples you have in mind, otherwise you’re just adding to the rumour mill and helping nobody in the process.

Anonymous

I know of one chambers that threatened a former member with defamation proceedings in order to try to protect their reputation.

Anonymous

How can a chambers sue for defamation? They have no legal personality.

Anonymous

? Lots of chambers are companies.

seniorassoc

If you can’t name the set, at least give future applicants a clue.

Anonymous

When you have a court of appeal judge saying this publicly, you know the statistics are not inaccurate.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8875040/Lady-Justice-Hallett-profile.html

Anonymous

Anonymous

Barristers do appear to be thoroughly unpleasant people.

Not Amused

Right, one more time …

4092 of 16,435 people responded – that is 25%

That is far too small a sample upon which to base any conclusions at all.

The alleged activity is not “reported”. Reported would mean a complaint made to authorities; either chambers or, given the requirements of the BSB handbook, the BSB. At best these are allegations by way of anonymous survey – but most of us would think such allegations to be of no significant evidential value. Given barristers must report misconduct by other barristers – it is also, at best, slightly incongruous.

The only real stories a journalist can generate are:

1. 75% of Bar snub pointless Bar Council survey; and/or,
2. Chairman of the Bar feels able to make important and potentially damaging statements about the Bar on extremely flimsy evidence.

I sincerely hope we see no policy announcements or changes as a result of this failed survey.

Weyland-Yutani

Less talking, more mining please. We need those damned eggs.

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Calm down! You sounded like you literally expelled pellets of poo as you wrote that.

Relax, everything gonna be fine..

Anonymous

“4092 of 16,435 people responded – that is 25%
“That is far too small a sample upon which to base any conclusions at all.”

Er what? I take it you have never studied statistics or any kind of social science. 25% is a far higher proportion than any statistician would regard as necessary to measure any but the tiniest population.

Maybe do some basic research before spouting off:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sample_size_determination
https://www.qualtrics.com/experience-management/research/determine-sample-size/

One of the many available online sample size calculators suggests that to sample a population of 16,435, with a 5% margin of error and a confidence level of 99%, you need a sample size of 638. https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/calculating-sample-size.

I suspect that what you are in fact concerned about is selection bias. Which is perhaps an issue – but only reduces the accuracy of the survey to an a limited extent (and incidentally that can to an extent be corrected for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckman_correction).

As for the idea that it is incongruous that barristers would anonymously report harassment in this survey which they had not actually reported to the BSB – I take it that you have not looked at the BSB ethics handbook on harassment, which is quite clear that barristers will not be penalised for not reporting harassment without the permission of the victim (and indeed should discuss any decision to report before doing so).

Not Amused

You have wrongly assumed I would agree with or value the opinion of the people you cite. It does not surprise me that some people exist who think these surveys – which are always very poorly responded to, are somehow valid. Of course there are. Some people devote their lives to these flawed and broken surveys – the result has been flawed and broken policies.

My proposal is that 25% response rate makes a ‘survey of the Bar’ valueless as a purported survey of the Bar and that it is an abuse of language to pretend otherwise.

Your proposal is that 638 responses out of 16,435 would make a perfectly valid survey from which policy changes that impact the remaining 15,797 could freely be made.

Readers can decide for themselves which proposal they think is correct.

Brexiteer

That’s right Not Amused. The people have had enough of “experts”.

What a brilliant, Gove-esque response there to a considered reply to your original post.

Anonymous

Oh for gods sake. “The value of the people I cite”! Any particular reason you don’t agree with mainstream academic thought on this point? You will not find ANY respectable scholarly source to support the view that a 25% sample is too small for a population of any size. This isn’t a case of you holding one opinion and others disagreeing with you, there is simply nothing to support your your view. The previous commenter is absolutely right that this kind of defiant anti-intellectualism is exactly what is wrong with the country.

Anonymous

I was about to write the same comment before seeing this one- I agree; you are doing pretty well as a statistician if you manage to obtain a sample of 25% of a population of over 1000 people. Indeed – all of the political polling about voting intention, Scottish independence , brexit etc are based on much smaller sample sizes .

It has long been recognised that accurate trends can be projected and predicted from sample groups. The larger a group becomes, the easier it becomes to draw conclusions about that groups characteristics and views.

Then again nobody likes an expert- we are all tired of listening to them (just like when I smoked 60 a day for 40 years and all these annoying experts told me id probably get Cancer, what do they know!?) In my opinion (which is just as valid as their “facts”) simply eating a pomegranate every day will cure my cancer.

I’m so tired of people conflating opinions and facts – not everything is a matter for debate Jesus

Anonymous

How many people think Not Amused should go and get stuffed?

Anonymous

More then 25 %

Anonymous

🤣

Anonymous

This utter idiocy is why lawyers should need at least A-level maths…

Anonymous

Are you a female chancery silk? Your writing style is very similar to one female chancery silk I’ve come across.

Anonymous

I am the author of the original response to NA’s comment. I am not a female chancery silk, though I am a female barrister.

Anonymous

I was not replying to you, I was replying to Not Amused.

Anonymous

NA is very identifiable because he does the same rants, using the same phrases, in real life. He is a male traditional chancery junior (you know the type).

Anonymous

He was probably at one stage pupil to the chancery silk I was thinking of.

Anonymous

Potentially. Would have been c. 15 years ago. And there are no female silks at NA’s set so she must have moved sets if it is the same person.

Anonymous

Criminal barristers like dick-swinging non-shocka.

This is like literally what they spend 99% of their time doing at the criminal bar. It’s because unlike the rest of us, they don’t have to do legal research.

Anonymous

That’s right. There’s definitely no criminal law to be researched.

Anonymous

You do like dick-swinging don’t you though?

The criminal bar is 1% law, 99% braggadocio.

Anonymous

That’s not what the commenter said. It’s absolutely true that if you are a criminal practitioner you will spend most of your time on your feet and travelling to court. You will not be presenting complex legal points in court. It’s completely different to commercial practice, for e.g., where you do do a lot of legal research.

Anonymous

Criminal practice is all fact and no law. That’s why criminal barristers are so thick. Even more so than those doing personal injury and family, which are similarly dross areas which also attract chippy people from red brick unis.

CrimBo

I’m surprised at this. As a criminal Barrister of 10 years call I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed anything like what is being suggested as “rife”.

Unless the responders are snowflakes who dislike the odd bit of robing-room gallows humour…

Perhaps we should all be lobotomized at birth to remove the sense of humour, lest it causes offence?

X

You have spouted an insidious opinion that in my mind strengthens my conclusions drawn from this article.

A Barrister or 10 years call and you fail to appreciate that whilst you have perhaps not experienced bullying, many of your colleagues have.

Yet, Indigently, you joke about the need for lobotomisation.

Perhaps you should consider the desasterous affects bullying has on ones mental health before you ingest and regurgitate the substance of this article with jest.

Anonymous

Lol u crazy

Anonymous

Most barristers have been lobotomised by the time of tenancy.

Anonymous

The switching back and forth between using written numbers and percentages and numerals really bothered me. Please pick one or the other =/

Anonymous

What a load of bollards.

Anonymous

Give me an up vote, please, if you think Not Amused would make an accomplished bully.

Trumpenkrieg

How do you bully a barrister? Bullying is a fundamental skill for a barrister

Anonymous

Depends on the area of law. I disagree it is necessary in commercial, public or employment law – I have no experience of tax or the like but can’t imagine tax barristers make good bullies either.

Those sorts of personalities thrive however in crime. I’d also lump family, PI and professional discipline into that bracket.

Criminal barristers or teenaged schoolboys?

– casual bullies
– obsessed with appearances and bragadacio
– reliant on family money
– unable to earn more then the min wage

Anonymous

LOL

Anonymous

Just let your supervisor fiddle with your donger and chocolate starfish from time to time and you’ll be right!

Anonymous

I once juniored a male silk (married with children) who was a right sleaze-bag, always would try to engage me in sexual conversation with overt homosexual content when we alone. Give me a bit of an insight into what women must put up with on a daily basis.

JD Partner (soon to be censored)

We hired him. Everyone lived happily ever after.

Anonymous

Sounds like you didn’t put out…career limiting clearly, you’d have been blacklisted for that unprofessional behaviour.

Anonymous

That explains how many with limited ability have gone as far as they have in law.

Anonymous

But not so limited downstairs amirite?

Anonymous

How dare you compare your experience with women you privileged troglodyte

Trumpenkrieg

Where’s all the posts about Corbyn. Sympathiser taking it up the hoop?

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Jealous are we Trumpy?

Trumpenkrieg

Dear me no, brown hat.

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Bugger off then you fascist.

Corbyn. Sympathiser

I sometimes wonder why I am so horribly unpleasant.

Trumpenkrieg

You are a fuvking disgrace if I ever see you in the street I will pick your bum c4sck

Corbyn. Sympathiser

You are just a Cosplayer.

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Aww, poor ickle Twumpy, triggered and thinking he’s a man. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous

If somebody tries to bully me at my set blood, I’ll bang dem fam…

Anonymous

Catch me outside. How bout day.

Anonymous

I’ll sexually harass you until you cry and then bang your mum.

Anonymous

The stats relate to unverified reports of bullying and harassment. Hard to conclude much from them.

Anonymous

Ask yourself why would trained, qualified barristers with current practising certificates either dishonestly make it up on a survey or be so reckless as to give inaccurate responses …

Anonymous

Because their certificate is pretty much worthless, what with them making more as a subway manager?

Anonymous

@ Anonymous 9.39pm – I have, that’s why I say its hard to conclude much from these unverified stats. Answering surveys dishonestly or inaccurately is quite common.

Hardly ‘reckless’ to give incorrect answers on a survey.

Anonymous

I do think there is a natural tendency among human beings to exaggerate. Also, what is the context of the alleged harassment or bullying? Do you include agressive opponents who try to shake you down outside Court? Is that bullying or part of the “job whereby people fuck swing to intimidate an opponent?

Is be more interested if it was said that the bullying took place in chambers or during social occasions because that would tend to be more believable .

A certain judge

Y don’t I bully you in my chambers for 3 4/3 hours and we call that you shadowing me?
Then u fuck my puckered ass and I pay u €1.23 and $2.67 and then I pay me £4?

TheAcresOfFour

Disgusting.

A certain judge

I’m a hobo, what do u expect?
So what u say? This puckered arse isn’t gonna fuck itself

Anonymous

These inane self-selecting samples with no control definitions are pointless tosh.

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