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).

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