Garrick Club: Bar Council issues warning to lawyer members

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By Legal Cheek on


‘Exclusionary spaces do not foster support between colleagues’

The Garrick Club, London – credit Ricardalovesmonuments/WikiCommons

The Bar Council has added its weight to the ongoing debate about The Garrick Club and its judge and barrister-laden membership.

Chair of the Bar Council, Sam Townend KC, has issued a statement on The Garrick Club and the position of its legal members, following a debate last week about the prevalence of judges and senior barristers within the exclusive clubs membership.

“At the heart of the Bar Council’s work, as the representative body for all barristers in England and Wales, is a commitment to fairness, equality and diversity.” The Keating Chambers silk began. “We are proud of the work that the Bar Council does in striving to achieve an inclusive and meritocratic legal profession.”

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Continuing, he added that, “There is a significant body of evidence showing that women working in the legal profession, at all levels, face discrimination at work. This is illustrated by the Bar Council’s own research on gender disparities in career progression, retention and earnings. Women barristers have told the Bar Council they have lower overall wellbeing and disproportionately experience bullying and harassment when compared to their male counterparts at work.”

“Women barristers have not yet secured equal representation or remuneration in our profession and are underrepresented in the judiciary. In this regard, the Bar Council remains committed to ensure that those who work within the justice system are more reflective of the society we serve.”

“Closed doors and exclusionary spaces do not foster support or collaboration between colleagues. Where progression from the legal profession into the judiciary relies on references, they create the potential for unfair advantage,” Townend said.

In what appears to be warning of what may be to come, the silk concluded by saying that, “For now, it is a matter for individuals to determine whether or not membership of an institution, such as the Garrick Club, is compatible with the views they espouse in their professional lives, but this may change. As a profession it is vitally important that we retain the trust and confidence of the public.”

Last week Legal Cheek reported that the exclusive club was frequented by a host of top legal figures, including judges from all rungs of the court system. In the same week, an opinion produced by Blackstone Chambers David Pannick KC stated that the club does not, by it’s language used, exclude women (although none have ever been admitted).



So the wokerati win again. Well done on cancelling another institution that was harming no one, breaking no laws, and adopting similar selective policies to societies and institutions the woke love.


Breaking no laws? Anti discrimination laws sound a familiar note with you, per chance? Moved into the 21st century yet?


Name the laws, statute and section. I’ll wait.


It’s actually perfectly legal under the Equality Act to form private associations which limit membership on the basis of sex. Comparable female only organisations could not exist otherwise. This is why none of the latest news coverage have alleged legal wrongdoing by members of the Garrick, and focussed more on the social and ethical dimensions to forming such societies.


Access is power. You restrict access to peers, then you restrict the level of power people can achieve if they cannot enter those spaces. It’s not about being woke. It’s about having an equal playing field. But sure geel free to get upset about something that has evidence to prove you wrong because your feelings were hurt.


We’ve had a female head of state, females in every position in cabinet, including Prime Minister (all Conservative, not lefties, I note), and female Supreme Court judges, yet this single club in London that most of the country had never heard of until the woke puppet masters started pulling the strings is holding back women Please apply some critical thinking before lapping up left wing propaganda.


What have they won Alan ? What prize ? You think that voicing an opinion is wrong ? Sounds like you’re the snowflake son.


You’re clearly unhinged. When commenting on an article it is highly recommended to read it first.


It’s 2024!


Should female barristers and judges who volunteer for female-exclusive schemes, or who attend female-only groups (e.g WI) be made to choose? Membership of a private club, which is lawful and takes place on private property, is not the cause of your ‘gender imbalance’.


The more this goes on, the more this society will sink. They don’t have this nonsense in healthy countries.


It does astonish me how ostensibly smart people don’t appreciate that exclusion (the friend-enemy distinction, to use Carl Schmitt’s language) is the underpinning of all human community. The Bar does it when they exclude (I use the term advisedly) anyone who doesn’t meet their ideal of an Oxbridge-educated, well-spoken radical centrist – and I fail to see how that sort of exclusion (which is based upon factors such as genetics and familial upbringing entirely outwith the control of individuals) is morally distinguishable from choosing to exclude certain subsets of people from a social club.


Can’t wait for the University Women’s Club to be hounded with its members doxxed for being part of a single gender club. Just kidding – we live under a matriarchy so its only a problem if men do it


In what possible earthly sense do we live under a matriarchy? Words do still retain meaning.

Just Anonymous

I am not a member of the Garrick Club. Nor do I wish to be. It does not appeal to me.

However, Freedom of Association is a thing.

Private members’ clubs, by definition, are merely collections of private individuals who are gathering together.

The Bar Council has no business telling me or any other barrister (whether directly or by insinuation) who we may or may not associate with (or, indeed, who we have to associate with).

I recognise the concern that membership of the Garrick may facilitate ‘old school networking’ which in turn may facilitate career development. This concern is not unfounded. However, the answer to it is not to throw away what should be a fundamental human freedom. Rather, the answer is to do what has been done in recent years: make the application processes for silks and judges fair and meritocratic (and not dependent on the old fashioned ‘tap on the shoulder’.)

RichardS KC

When you clamp down on one lawful privilege, it tends to morph and migrate to another setting. The Bar Council seem to be more concerned about the visibility and hence public perception of association with the Garrick, than actual clandestine membership. What might the proletariat think if they hear the legal profession is a stitch up? What might the woman think when they hear they’re not welcome? Etc
Best to follow the old adage, and never join a club that would have you as a member.
In future follow the rules of Fight Club, and don’t talk about your membership to a soul. And certainly not another woman. Perish the thought.


You fundamentally misunderstand – meritocracy is not what they are concerned with. Meritocracy has been the order of the day for a while now, and it has not produced the social results they want to see (ie complete equality of outcome).

The new order of the day is reverse discrimination.


The Bar Council has done no such thing. End.

Sir Loin

So funny this fuss about the Garrick and totally misguided The idea that letting in a bunch of Oxbridge educated rich women would suddenly mean the Garrick was no longer an “exclusionary space” is hilarious…


It’s now unacceptable for any individual to deviate from from the prevailing cultural orthodoxy. Which has been the case since the beginning of time. But of course in bygone days if any club or interest group of men based around anything was told by a bunch of people they can’t have a club without women or other people whose presence would totally invalidate said club’s entire purpose they’d laugh in their faces. They’ve already ruined everything anyway, so what do I care if an elite club totally self destructs? They deserve a taste of their own medicine.


Dear Bar Council,

I want to be a member of Sunningdale golf club but the fee is more than I can afford.

Please can you sanction it for being exclusionary.


Muppet Barrister

Redbrick Graduate

This is excellent.

The way things are going, I’ll have secured my Oxford and Cambridge Club membership within the decade.


“There is a significant body of evidence showing that women working in the legal profession, at all levels, face discrimination at work. This is illustrated by the Bar Council’s own research on gender disparities in career progression, retention and earnings. Women barristers have told the Bar Council they have lower overall wellbeing and disproportionately experience bullying and harassment when compared to their male counterparts at work.”

Where on earth does he get this from? I am aware of no such research and cannot find any when searching for it.

Well over 60% of pupillages places are given to women. And most chambers have targets to promote a certain number of women to senior roles, they have KC targets and the Judiciary have targets to promote women to Judicial roles.

I have never seen an environment more keen on promoting women. Where on Earth does he get the evidence that women are at a disadvantage?

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