Exchange Chambers expands mentoring programme to northern bar hopefuls

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By Thomas Connelly on


Follows successful pilot in Liverpool

A mentoring scheme which aims to support and inspire the next generation of barristers is to be expanded across the North of England.

Exchange Chambers first piloted the programme of careers support in Toxeth, Liverpool, teaming up with local community development project L8 A Better Place.

The set has now confirmed its barristers in Leeds and Manchester are getting involved too, offering advice, support and practical guidance to would-be lawyers across the North.

In considering applications to the scheme, Exchange says it priorities students from diverse backgrounds and those without family links to the profession. It is currently supporting 27 students aged between 16 and 36.

The set hosted its first ‘Day in Court’ event earlier this month, with mentees visiting Liverpool Crown Court and meeting judges and barristers. It says similar events are planned in the future.

The Legal Cheek Chambers Most List shows the Exchange is one of the largest chambers in the country with over 200 barristers, including 24 silks, across Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. It offers around seven pupillages each year with an award of £25,000.

Stella Hayden, a criminal barrister at Exchange who helped develop the mentoring programme, commented:

“Our expanded scheme provides students across the North with access to a barrister mentor who can advise and support them to develop key skills and areas of knowledge by providing an insight into a career in the law.”

The 2023 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

She continued: “Our mentees are at different stages of their journey — some have not yet decided on their career path, while others have already made choices about further study and chosen their field. As a progressive barristers’ Chambers, we are committed to achieving equality in representation within the legal profession. We want the composition of Chambers to reflect the community we represent.”

The latest bar diversity stats show that a disproportionately large number of barristers are privately educated. Of those who provided information on their schooling background to the bar regulator, more than a third attended a fee paying school compared to just 7% of the UK population.

Last month Legal Cheek reported that BPP University Law School had launched a new bar scholarship programme in partnership with Bridging the Bar, a charity that supports aspiring barristers from non-traditional backgrounds. The tie-up will see BPP provide five £5,000 scholarships to future charity members who would not otherwise be able to afford to study for the bar.

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