Target BAME aspiring barristers with pupillage opportunities, BSB tells chambers in ‘anti-racist statement’

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Regulator launches action plan

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has urged chambers to take “positive action” to boost diversity within the profession, including targeted adverts to recruit aspiring barristers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds into work experience and pupillage opportunities.

In a new anti-racist statement published on Friday, the BSB sets a number of “anti-racist actions” for chambers to implement as part of a collective effort to reduce race inequality at the bar.

Other positive actions put forward by the regulator include: undertake a “race equality audit” to identify the barriers to equality within a practice; complete comprehensive anti-racist training for all barristers and staff; and produce and publish an anti-racist statement for members of chambers and the public.

The statement has been developed in collaboration with barristers and BSB members of the regulator’s Race Equality Taskforce, a group of BAME and white barristers which advises the BSB on the development of strategy, policy and activity to improve racial equality in the profession.

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BSB director-general, Mark Neale, commented: “We recognise that 2020 has been an unprecedentedly challenging year for many parts of the bar but consider the issue of race equality at the bar to be an urgent priority for everyone. We also know that the bar shares that commitment.”

He continued:

“That’s why we have decided to publish this anti-racist statement now. If all barristers’ practices commit to completing, and fully embracing, the actions that we have set out for them today, we believe this would represent a significant step towards greater racial equality within the profession.”

The statement follows the launch of the regulator’s reverse mentoring programme which sees bar students and pupil barristers from BAME backgrounds share their “experiences of racism” with white senior barristers.

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BAME pupilage entry is at or above the BAME percentage across the population. There is no need for this sort of intimidation by regulators. How about properly collecting some socioeconomic data to see the real barriers to entry at the bar? All this nonsense does is boost middle class BAME applicants’ chances at the expense of working class candidates.



Intimidation? Lol.

BAME people are only represented at entry level because they are massively over represented on the BPTC (i.e. they still face barriers) and it’s nearly a decade since the last census.

If you read the statement (perhaps Legal Cheek should too), you’ll learn that it isn’t just about entry. It’s about progression and retention, and asks chambers to take local action to identify and respond to local issues. No issues, then presumably no need to act, though I doubt many (perhaps any) chambers will have no issues in this area.



Well yes, but perhaps one then needs to ask why BAME are massively over-represented on the BPTC? Surely that is suggesting there are different barriers for different groups at different stages?


U Wot?

Because BPTC providers will let anyone on the course who can pay the fees and most BAME people come from families who encourage them to become barristers.



Don’t disagree with you, nor does the BSB on the face of it. It’s just saying there are barriers to race equality at the Bar, much like it has said there are barriers to other forms of equality. One doesn’t preclude the other.


Scouser of Counsel

I’m a white barrister of non-British origin who was the first in my family to go to university and was educated at a non fee paying school, but to all the world resemble the classic white, male, English, privately educated barrister because I’m able to talk the talk and walk the walk.

You can learn how to “look the part“ if you’re white and male.

You can’t change the way you look, however, and this is the problem that BAME lawyers and candidates face no matter how high the academic credentials and no matter how “well spoken” you are.

I have never been mistaken for being a defendant when attending court and no one had ever asked me “where are you really from?”

I’ve never been attacked or insulted because of my skin colour.

I’ve never had assumptions made about my diet or religion because of my skin colour.

I’ve never had anyone look at me strangely because of my appearance.

I’ve never been made to feel like a foreigner in this country even though my family has only been in the UK for a few generations and there are many many BAME people whose families have been here even longer.

I’ve never been made to feel like I don’t belong here.

However, I have met BAME practitioners of all backgrounds (including some from very well off families) who have experienced all of the above.

That is what white privilege is.



Thank you. I (a white person, though not sure that adds anything) agree and would only add that doing some work to promote race equality doesn’t exclude work to promote e.g. social mobility. Indeed, they should intersect and enhance each other. Too many people feel threatened by work that focuses on race.



Shut up!

We don’t need a white saviour speaking up for us.

You have a white saviour mentality and it’s things like that that harm.


Scouser of Counsel

Sorry, Anong, I was just trying to be an ally by telling it as I saw it.

I apologise for causing offence.

I think I’ll just stick to listening on race issues from now on.

I acknowledge that as a white person I have not “lived” racism and therefore have no right to comment on it.


Mrs Crabapple



Hey, Anong, here is a tip if you want change. Don’t diss 77% of the population. You need their buy in for change. This isn’t MeToo….



Can you explain how this comment causes harm, because I don’t understand.



You can learn to look the part, but those that do not come from capital owning families and the right upper middle class English background always stick out like a sore thumb. There is no white privilege. There is capital ownership privilege. The latter is often miscategorised as the former.


Scouser of Counsel

I disagree.

I’ve had people ask me which public school I went to before now. I’ve been able to smash their illusion by telling them I didn’t go to one.

I’m not from a capital owning background but I don’t think I stick out like a sore thumb.

Are you in practice or a student?



2 things can be true at the same time, it is intersectionality. I agree that there is capital ownership privilege, however it is more likely to benefit a white person than a black person in the UK. Both issues should be addressed together, not one highlighted and the other treated as though it doesn’t exist.


A. N.

I’m a white, male barrister with a commercial/chancery practice. Both my parents are British. I’m public school- and Oxbridge educated.

When a student, I completed a handful of criminal mini-pupillages. On two separate occasions I was mistaken for the defendant.

I have an unusual, foreign-sounding name. I am often asked ‘where is your family from?’.

I’ve often had people look at me strangely because of my appearance. But there again, I am a strange looking chap.

I assume (perhaps unfairly) that other people assume I’m not muslim or hindu.

It’s true that I’ve never been attacked or (seriously) insulted because of my skin colour. But in a civilised society, I hardly think that should be regarded as unwarranted ‘privilege’.

In this country, privilege does not reside in one’s skin colour. It resides in one’s wealth and class. It’s true that certain demographics are disproportionately poor and of lower class. But first, that’s certainly not the case for all ‘BAME’ sub-groups. And secondly, the notion that poor, working class white kids have some sort ‘privilege’ over their wealthy BAME counterparts is complete tosh.



I wonder if people look at you strangely because you’re talking commercial and chancery language?



It resides in both, actually. Why do people seem to think that if we say “people with characteristic face barriers”, we mean “only people with x characteristic face barriers”? Someone who is e.g. Black is likely to face barriers to equality in this country. That same person may be from a wealthy background, which means they simultaneously have a form of privilege. One doesn’t cancel out the other, it really isn’t hard! Equally, a white person may face barriers to equality because they come from a lower socio-economic background. That doesn’t negate the fact that their whiteness is a privilege/that they are never likely to experience racism. The two co-exist.



So where you have a black pupil who comes from a wealthy background and went to public school and Oxbridge up against a white pupil who grew up deprived, who do the Bar Council say the tenancy should go to?


Black pupil. It is all about the percentages. They love their BAME and gender percentages.


@confused.pon Whoever scores the best in the application – otherwise it would be positive discrimination, which is unlawful. In the event that they score equally well, it is lawful positive action (not positive discrimination) to award the tenancy to the person who is from the most underrepresented group within chambers/practice area/profession.

Brown Scouser

Man you are absolutely so right, and they gonna hate you for it !



Lets see how long it takes before the legal profession resembles the academic profession in certain nutty countries, e.g. in Canada virtually all new academic jobs are reserved for “diversity candidates” or on diversity subjects, i.e. critical race theory, black legal history and so on. McGill, Toronto, Osgoode, UBC, all are the same and Osgoode’s only source of funding for post-docs requires you to explain exactly how you are a disadvantaged candidate. Why exactly we are obsessed on promoting diverse candidates, when in reality those of European stock are an overwhelming minority globally (and in certain places locally, e.g. Vancouver and as regards British whites, London) I will never understand.



The BSB’s statement is about the representation and inclusion of BAME people at the Bar of England and Wales. Your assertion that those of European stock are an overwhelming minority globally is irrelevant. And if you had any sense and understanding of the dynamics of racism, you’d know that this isn’t about numbers (though they do play a role), it’s about power. Anyway, back to the Bar: show me a chambers, Inn, practice area or region in which people of European stock are in the minority…



I think its pretty clear I am making a general criticism of the diversity agenda, the BSBs drive for it being one part of this, so please cease with the strawman nonsense. As for “power”, nice to see that genie is out of the bottle. So if it’s about “power” (whatever that ideological and amorphous term is supposed to mean), pray tell what constitutes a sufficient percentage of BAME representation? Do they in fact need to be overepresented to “compensate”? Are South Africa (and Zimbabwe’s) and Malayasias (disastrous) black/malay empowerment models ones we should follow? Should we start dividing BAME like they do in North America into BIPOC and non-BIPOC when some “minorities” do better than diversity luvvies want them to? What about a caste system a la india or a pyramid of oppression? Or perhaps we should just put this Marxist nonsense where it belongs: the dustbin of history.


We are not Canada

In the UK it is not possible to ‘reserve’ a job for individuals of a particular race. In Canada positive discrimination by reserving jobs for people of a certain race is possible and lawful.



Wow, the UK is not Canada?! I would never have guessed! You are naive if you think that it’s impossible for the UK to follow Canada’s lead, indeed the discourse surrounding diversity (including law firms setting targets of recruitment for BAME, e.g. Clifford Chance wanting 15% of new partners to be BAME) suggests that we are on well on the way to doing so.


🇬🇧 🇨🇦

Are you sure the UK isn’t Canada…?

– Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State ✔️
– Member of the Commonwealth ✔️
– Common law judicial system ✔️
– Free healthcare for all ✔️
– House of Commons ✔️
– Prime Minister ✔️
– Majority white ✔️
– Significant BAME population ✔️
– Most people speak English ✔️
– Thinks it’s America’s best buddy ✔️
– Also believes it’s morally superior ✔️



This is a form of positive discrimination. It is noteworthy that this action discriminates against all others not being promoted. This is why ‘discrimination’ is contained in the term,


We want Jolyon!

I want to know what Jolyon thinks about this.


“It’s a Joly holyday with Jolyon... 🎵

He’s working class, after all!


I Smell Gammon


There are chambers in London with only 1-2 BAME people in the whole set.

That’s incredible given that most banks, management consultancies or solicitor firms in London have far more BAME people with similar academics to most barristers. This isn’t because BAME applicants can’t do the job.

I’m embarrassed for the White barristers complaining here who think that by treating BAME people fairly and breaking down prejudice, something is being taken away from them.


Name them and BAME them!

Who are they then?



Every time the chambers with only 1-2 BAME barristers are named on LC, the comment gets deleted.



What prejudice? The only prejudice I see is the racism in your chosen moniker.



You seem really triggered?



Wakey Wakey!

It isn’t racism when you’re punching up, fool!



Another example of the indigenous population being treated de facto like second class citizens. White working class young men are by far the most worst off.

This will likely only benefit wealthy BAME candidates who had the ‘privilege’ of getting a good education and going to a top uni.



We don’t need white heteronormative people telling us what equality means.

You can’t ever have equality in a system that is fundamentally set up for white people and white values.

It is institutionalised from hundreds of years of history. We don’t want or need white support or sympathy as this perpetuates it.

You can’t have white people trying to “help” make Black people equal because you’re still working within a white system that doesn’t take into account black people’s heritage and needs. Your definition of equal is act and live and be treated the same as white people, which totally disregards black culture.

We demand our own new institutions, schools, hospitals and cultural centres that are built on black culture from
the start and that take into account our culture and needs without the need for white involvement at all. Only then will we be truly equal!


MLK (Dec’d)

So, you mean “separate but equal”?

I think that was tried before somewhere.

Didn’t end well…


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