Commercial bar mentorship scheme opens with record number of chambers

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By Rhys Duncan on


250 spots up for grabs

The Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR) has launched its flagship student mentoring scheme for 2024-25 with a record number of chambers getting involved.

The programme, which sees students receive a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions, has this year attracted mentors from across 25 commercial sets, with at least 250 mentee spots expected to be on offer.

These participating sets have also agreed to cover reasonable travel expenses for the mentees allocated to them.

In addition to mentoring, students will be invited to a pupillage interview and application workshop and social event in January 2025, which last year featured a keynote introductory speech from Mr Justice Foxton, the Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

Legal Cheek is also pleased to announce it will once again act as exclusive media partner for the programme, ensuring that it reaches as many potential applicants as possible.

The scheme targets applicants from under-represented groups at the bar, especially the commercial bar. It assesses candidates with realistic prospects of obtaining a pupillage based on their need for mentoring and their potential for a career at the bar.

Alexander Gunning KC, chair of COMBAR, commented:

“The promotion of diversity at the Commercial Bar continues to be one of COMBAR’s core aims. It is vital that the Commercial Bar recruits from the most talented future practitioners, including, in particular, those from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-represented.”

He continued: “This initiative allows applicants from under-representative backgrounds, who meet the requisite standards, to access one-to-one mentoring with practitioners from 25 participating sets. It is an important way of promoting access and demonstrating that the Commercial Bar is open to applicants from all backgrounds. I am delighted that this year’s Scheme can build on the success of previous years and I want to thank all those involved volunteering their time to make this happen.”

Students must apply by Friday 20 September using COMAR’s application form.

The participating chambers are: 3 Verulam Buildings, 4 New Square, 4 Pump Court, 7 King’s Bench Walk, 11 King’s Bench Walk, 36 Stone, Blackstone Chambers, Brick Court Chambers, Devereux Chambers, Essex Court Chambers, Fountain Court Chambers, Gatehouse Chambers, Henderson Chambers, Keating Chambers, Maitland Chambers, Monckton Chambers, One Essex Court Chambers, Quadrant Chambers, Radcliffe Chambers, Serle Court, South Square , Twenty Essex, Wilberforce Chambers, XXIV Old Buildings.



There have always been Inn mentoring schemes, and still you struggle to find commercial barristers who are ethnic minorities, grew up in the care system or who come from the lowest socio-economic groups in the UK.

I will reserve my praise for the day I look on a commercial chambers’ website and actually see more than one barrister in it that isn’t White/Upper Middle class


Please do let the rest of us in on this secret class detector you own, or are you seeking a patent for that technology?

Clearly you spend close to zero time mixing with real barristers. Please do so and then return with an apology and retraction for firing off false assertions in front of young impressionable people who are left with an incorrect view of the profession. Thank you.

Diversity ally

How is it an incorrect view of the Bar? I don’t necessarily agree with “Hmmmm” that the COMBAR scheme is not deserving of praise, but if you do indeed look on commercial barrister websites, there are virtually no black barristers, for example (diversity exists beyond ethnicity obviously, i.e. disability, socio-economic class, sexuality etc). These “young impressionable people” can see that for themselves and know that the Bar clearly has a diversity problem, which further feeds into even greater lack of diversity at Silk level and the Bench. You will never fix a problem you can’t even acknowledge.  The difficulty is finding the right solution, on which many reasonable minds, both within and outside the Bar, clearly disagree. But please don’t act like the point of these schemes is not to achieve greater diversity at the Bar, an area where it is clearly failing, if you look on commercial barrister websites. 


The Bar recruits on quality and rigorously so. The problems you claim exist are not an issue for the Bar. Any problems which exist are in the education system not the profession.


What is worse is also students paying £18k for the BPTC for a ‘dream’, on top of the £25k they have in debt from university.

How much further does this put people from owning a home?


Is there a similar type of mentoring scheme for trainee/students wanting to pursue a career as a solicitor or professional services expert in the legal sector?

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