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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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