White male barristers out-earn female and BAME colleagues

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Even with the same level of experience and areas of law, research finds

White male barristers are likely to earn more than their female and black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues, according to new research published by the Bar Standards Board.

The regulator says this income gap continues to be true, even when looking at barristers operating in the same areas of the law, within the same parts of the country, and among those with similar levels of experience.

The findings show the difference in earnings between barristers are particularly noticeable when looking at gender and ethnicity together, with female BAME barristers being the lowest earning group and white male barristers being the highest.

By way of example, the BSB found that 18.1% of BAME female barristers had a gross income of £30,000 or less. This compared to just 8.6% of white male barristers. Further up the earnings scale, 14.7% of white male barristers received a gross income of between £240,000 and £500,000 compared to just 3.5% of BAME female barristers.

The regulator — which collects the income data as part of the annual process by which barristers renew their practising certificates — stressed the figures are based entirely on earnings from prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Legal Cheek reported earlier this year that many barristers were experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

The BSB added that around one fifth of barristers are employed, and for them income refers to their gross earnings before tax and national insurance, while for the four fifths of barristers who are self-employed, their income refers to total fee income (excluding VAT) before they pay chambers expenses and overheads, which is estimated to typically take between 20% to 40% of their income.

BSB director general, Mark Neale, said: “These disparities are marked and cannot be explained away by seniority, geography or area of law. The disparities underline why the Bar Standards Board will continue to prioritise its work on diversity and challenge the bar to do more and better in combatting discrimination affecting the progression of women and of barristers from BAME backgrounds.”

Read the report in full:



Tarring and generalising white male barristers with the ‘likely’ brush is a disgrace; just ask the hardworking criminal cohort, most of whom earn similar amounts to teachers (after 2-3 years’ PQE). Be more specific: ‘White male public school and oxbridge educated barristers out-earn female and BAME colleagues’



More worried about you as a White barrister being made to look ‘bad’ than Black and Asian people earning less for exactly the same work?




Explain to me how you think that works? Do you think there’s a box on the legal aid form that you tick if you’re not white male and you get a reduced fee? Or perhaps your clerks (who get a % of your earnings) quote you out at less? Don’t be ridiculous.

The person you’re responding to is completely right. A disproportionately higher number of white male oxbridge candidates go into more lucrative areas of law and therefore earn more.

Those areas are more intellectually demanding (or at least are perceived to be) and therefore you need a first from a top uni to even get a look in.

Anyone whose applied via the Pupillage gateway will understand this.

Then you come back to the age old issue of who gets into those unis. That’s the root of the issue. I don’t think there is a conspiracy. I think these unis take the best candidates. It’s in their interest to do so. The best candidates are the ones (often) who have afforded the better education (or haven’t had to work whilst studying etc), hence a disproportionately higher number of privately educated children attended oxbridge.


Racism sucks, yo

Do you really believe that Black and Asian applicants are incapable of going to Oxbridge and are therefore not applying for top commercial chambers?

Many BPTC grads end up doing criminal/immigration work after spending years applying for pupillage elsewhere. I know one BAME barrister who is in immigration law after 5 years of applying/paralegalling.

You take the pupillage you get. We remain in a situation whereby BAME applicants are not chosen for commercial chambers and then end up earning less by taking whatever else they can find.

Anyway you try to manipulate this, study after study shows BAME applicants at a disadvantage to White ones.



I note absolutely no data collected on socioeconomic background. It is a disgrace that the BSB and Bar Council bleat on and on about race and gender but ignore completely the discrimination against those from working class backgrounds.



Exactly this.



‘Tim’ is clearly a parody account.



So caring about disability discrimination is so unlikely that I must be joking? That there says everything you need to know about the attitude of most people to this essential issue in society. Thank you for proving my point.


Donald's Trump

Presumably one of the reasons is that they tend to work more hours. Not suggesting that there aren’t issues with E&D, but the headline is fairly simplistic and not particularly probative of anything.


Joe's Biden

I think that’s slightly harsh. There’s nothing wrong with the title per se. The research reveals a reasonably interesting (albeit completely predictable) finding, and the title provides a sober and accurate summary of that finding.

However, I agree with your broader point. The pernicious fallacy underlying must of this research (amongst those who commission it, and those who consume it) is that the gender/race gap is due to ‘unconscious bias’, ‘misogyny’, ‘racism’ and the like.


Jezbollah’s Corbyn

This is ridiculous. Society is institutionally and systemically racist. BAME people consistently underperform because they face discriminatory barriers to progression and women face sexist barriers erected by the oppressive patriarchy.



Sadly for parody that is not a bad summary of the mindset of the mentality that prevails at the BSB and Bar Council.



More like it’s the mentality that is failing them to achieve greater success. It’s writes how Asians outperform whites and other colours in education, salary and in other aspects of life. Everyone got a choice. Also factor in the population. More whites than other colours so obviously they will be earning more. More or less so there are many companies that help out black and other colours just because they are the minority.



Please move away from the keyboard, and return to the 1970s where you belong.



I really, really hope you don’t tell other Black and Asian people on your law course that they have a ‘mentality that is failing them to achieve greater success’.

My Nigerian parents and would go nuclear on you if you brought home anything less than ‘A’s in exams.

The QC’s Only Fans Account

No ‘racism’? So how exactly do you explain women and BAME people across the board earning less than White barristers then????

The fragility of some White male barristers and their worry for how many Twitter ‘likes’ they’ll lose out on as a result of this report is pathetic.

We all see past the gaslighting. This isn’t the first time either that statistics prove that BAME people face huge hurdles at the Bar compared to their White counterparts.

You want Twitter ‘likes’? Take on BAME pupils because they’ve earned their spot and publicly praise their work because you’ve seen how good it is. You’ll get more ‘likes’ than your puppy or backyard, I promise.



The earnings gap is partly (usually it relates to hours worked) an inevitable result of systematic positive discrimination and the more selection is based on criteria such as gender and ethnicity in theory the greater it will become. This is most visible at Oxbridge:

Privately educated white males are required to achieve a higher standard at Oxbridge entry. Having met a more exacting entry standard, they outperform everyone else.

Unnatural selection — someone should write a book about it.



Absolute tosh, I’m afraid. I am ex-Oxbridge and some of the smartest people I studied with were ethnic minorities. The developing idea that ethnic minorities don’t deserve to be anywhere they have reached is one of the most damaging in society. It is propagated by some very narrow-minded racists who are bitter about the spreading of opportunities.



What is “tosh” is your straw man logic.

If positive discrimination means there are lower entry standards for one group than another group then that risks the average quality of candidate in the preferred group being lower. That risk would be most significant at the lower percentiles of that preferred group who benefit most from the lowering of entry criteria being measurably lower in quality than the lower entry groups generally when there is not positive discrimination and even more disparate when the lower percentiles of the preferred group and compared to the lower percentiles of the non-preferred group. That disparity, as 7.25 indicates, will become even worse if the effect of the process is to make requirements for entry even more competitive for the non-preferred group than it was before, as that group’s average entry quality will tend to increase if overall entry numbers remain the same which is typically the case.

The smartest people when you were around, they all sail in, it is the rump that entry criteria impact the most.

But to equate 7.25am’s point with racism is the worst of cancel culture.


Racism sucks, yo

What ‘lower entry criteria’??????

When has any chambers or Oxbridge college ever lowered their entrance requirements for BAME applicants????

You fear ‘cancel culture’ because no one would give you the time of day if they knew how angry you are about other cultures and imaginary ‘lower entry criteria’.

This is why report after report shows mistreatment of BAME applicants – they really are hated and feared by some in the legal profession.



Oxford’s 25% quota drive lowers entry criteria. It puts postcodes before performance.

And nice effort at mind-reading, another cancel culture cliché “if you say this then really you must be a racist” or variations thereon. I object to cancel culture because it is wrong and offensive.

BAME Oxbridge Graduate

WTF do you mean ‘Privately educated white males are required to achieve a higher standard at Oxbridge entry’????

Oxbridge colleges 99% of the time make the same A*AA/A*A*A* offers to applicants after interview whatever their skin colour or the school they attend.

And since when do chambers have ‘systematic positive discrimination’???? You have chancery/education law chambers in London with only 1-2 BAME tenants in the whole set.


Anon at 7.25

Both universities explicitly state that entrance is contextualised and based on ‘potential’ rather than raw attainment.

‘We have in place rigorous selection processes (which includes the assessment of academic record in the context of data about the applicant, their school and their geodemographic background.’ Cambridge admits 17.1% of the national pupil cohort achieving A*A*A, but of Black pupils achieving A*A*A they admit 27.1%; the overall proportion of Cambridge students achieving a first class degree is 23.4%, for Black African and Caribbean pupils the corresponding figures are 12.3 and 16.7%.

WTF do I mean? The destruction of state education by the Left and their preoccupation with skin colour has resulted in the situation where a Black applicant is more likely to be admitted than a White applicant with the same grades, but less likely to achieve a first class degree.


BAME Oxbridge Grad

Did you even go to Oxbridge???? The colleges are overwhelmingly White. I never knew a single BAME person who didn’t make their entrance offer (yes, I made my entrance offer too).

I did however know a White woman on my course from a working class/‘no family history of university’ background who was let in with a B grade at A Level.

If there is any ‘discrimination’ by postcodes at Oxbridge, it would seem to me to benefit White working class applicants far more than second generation immigrants.

Perhaps if you had revised and didn’t waste your time reading memes and looking for reasons to blame minorities for all society’s woes, you could have gone to Oxbridge too?


Anon at 7.25

Perhaps if you were capable of understanding the difference between statistically powered evidence and personal anecdote, you could dispense with the unwarranted assumptions and get back to your LPC.


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