Reverse mentoring scheme sees BAME bar students share ‘experiences of racism’ with senior white barristers

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BSB launches pilot

Bar students and pupil barristers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds will share their “experiences of racism” with senior white barristers as part of a new reverse mentoring scheme being piloted by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

The regulator says that by pairing individuals who might not otherwise come together, it hopes to address barriers to race equality and foster a more inclusive culture at the bar.

The first pairing will be between University of Law bar student Elisha Lindsay and Essex Court Chambers barrister Paul Stanley QC.

Commenting on the scheme, Middlesex Uni law grad Lindsay said: “Initiating a programme that brings together the concept of diversity in a tangible and practical way is something I never thought would be achievable.”

She continued:

“Seeing how receptive members of the bar are to hearing and learning about anti-racist practices and achieving true diversity within the bar gives me hope for a more inclusive environment.”

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The programme, unveiled today, is the brainchild of the BSB’s Race Equality Taskforce, a group of BAME and white barristers which advises the regulator on the development of strategy, policy and activity to improve racial equality in the profession.

Stanley, a commercial law specialist, added:

“It is a privilege to be able to be involved in this ground-breaking initiative. Being mentored by Elisha gives me a golden opportunity to learn from her experience and insight, and to challenge my own preconceptions and prejudices. I know it will make me a better anti-racist ally, and help me to change myself and the profession for the better.”

Earlier this summer, pupil barrister Lola-Rose Avery went viral on Twitter after sharing her own experiences of racism as a child, through law school and in the legal profession.

The BSB’s latest diversity report, meanwhile, shows that only 14.7% of barristers are BAME, with black people more underrepresented than their mixed race and Asian peers.

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“only 14.7% of barristers are BAME”

14% of the population is BAME.

Therefore, the representation is perfectly appropriate.



“14.7% of barristers are BAME, with black people more underrepresented than their mixed race and Asian peers.”

not sure, taking the whole sentence, ‘perfectly appropriate’ is on point (or anywhere near) but agree that a bit more detail wouldn’t hurt… including as to the proportions of BAME practising barristers by practice area.


Petre Griffen

The point is that the article seems to suggest that the number of BAME barristers in general is not large enough, therefore implying that the proportion should be increased relative to white barristers. However, it’s clear that there is in general adequate representation (even a slight overrepresentation) within the Bar, so the article implies that diversity should be pursued for diversity’s sake, even when this is not needed.



Which would evidence discrimination against white applicants should be the concern of the equality warriors. But they just want to pile more tick box discrimination on top of the perfectly acceptable status quo.



The BAME category is flawed. Some sets have a small number of Asian but no black barristers (e.g., 39 Essex, Blackstone). The lack of black barristers at some sets (even those with 100+ members like 39) is obscured.



So you are saying the Bar is over-represented by those with an Asian background and there is a need to positively discriminate in favour of black and white applicants?



I say stop trying to attain perfect levels of representation for every single group in society and choose candidates based on merit alone. Equality of outcome is not only impossible to attain, but will merely lead to resentment as some groups will inevitably be discriminated against in trying to achieve it.

It’s certainly not the case that current practices lead to underrepresentation of BAME barristers – so it’s not at all clear that significant changes are needed.


White Student

Ahhh the classic ‘meritocracy’ response. I’m sure to you the best candidates are white men. The whole point is, BAME students are often just as well qualified on paper as their white counterparts and yet they are still being passed over for the white applicants all the time. In fact, I am regularly seeing BAME students who are better qualified in terms of having a superior degree and grades to white students and they are STILL missing out. Take your thinly veiled racism elsewhere please, it’s not warranted and it’s not ok.

A white student who thinks your view is disgusting.


@White Student

Labelling advocating for meritocracy as ‘thinly-veiled racism’ is why the vast majority of people despise the modern-day left.

A student who thinks your view is disgusting.

No-one said anything about positive discrimination

…just saying.



The only sort of people this might possibly be useful for are those who would never sign up for a scheme like this.


Cynical Barrister

What a great and easy way to tick off the “Diversity” element of the High Court judicial application competency framework!

It’s as though this is custom made to allow silks to fill that gap in their CV without having to actually do anything!



Would be interesting to see the ethnic breakdown of the Bar compared to the ethnic breakdown of the upper middle class generally.

I suspect the answer to “why are there so few black barristers” could well be “because black people are disproportionately working class, and the Bar doesn’t recruit from the working class”. Ditto for, say, applicants of Bangladeshi background.

By contrast l, I think kids of Indian background (plenty of doctors’ kids) would be over-represented at the Bar because there are plenty of upper middle class British Indians.

If you want to find the single most underrepresented ethnicity, I reckon the almost exclusively white Gypsy/Traveller would be a very safe bet.



Exactly this. Socioeconomic discrimination drives almost all the data used to explain alleged race discrimination but treating it as a race issue results in working class white applicants being in an even worse position.



The fragile white male ego is stronggggg in these comments, yuck.


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