A Bar Standards Board report has revealed a limited amount of information about diversity at the bar.
The report showed that “gender underrepresentation in the profession still remains an issue.” Women make up for 35.9 per cent of the practising bar (an increase of 0.9% since 2014) but only 13 per cent of QCs.
Meanwhile, only 6 per cent of QCs declared themselves to be of black/minority ethnic background, compared with 12 per cent of the practising bar as a whole. There is no change in these figures since 2014.
Away from gender and ethnicity, there was limited data on barristers’ sexual orientation, social background or whether they had caring responsibilities.
The results were drawn from two data sets: the Core Database 2015 and the Pupillage Registration Survey 2014-2015. Barristers can update their entry in the Core Database at any time, but most have not filled in a great deal of information.
The BSB’s director of regulatory policy Ewen MacLeod said: “The BSB publishes these data in accordance with its duties under the Equality Act 2010.
“However, as a regulator acting in the public interest, there is a genuine need to gather evidence to make sure there are no barriers for competent barristers of any background to progressing their careers. We urge barristers to update their diversity information when asked by the regulator each year.
“This information helps us to identify trends and barriers, and to take action that will encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective profession.”
Data on pupils was somewhat more comprehensive. It reveals that at least 47 per cent of pupils went to state school compared with at least 31 per cent who went to a fee-paying institution.
Most pupils are between 25 and 34 years old, although there were four pupils over the age of 55 in 2014-15.
At least 28 per cent of pupils were from the first generation in their family to attend university.
Diversity at the bar has long been a topic of debate. A survey last November showed that three quarters of the UK’s top judges and QCs went to private school.