2 King’s Bench Walk is committed to providing equality of opportunity for those practising within chambers, as well as those who apply to join us in whatever capacity and those who apply for mini-pupillage.
Chambers has a proud reputation for being friendly, accessible and open-minded. However we realise that good intentions alone are not enough.
Chambers recognises that women, members of ethnic minorities and those with disabilities, are under-represented both at the bar in general and also within chambers. We actively encourage applications from these groups, as well as those who have come to the bar later in life. We realise that this is the only fair, proper approach for any organisation to take. We also acknowledge that by taking such an approach, and actively seeking to recruit and retain the very best staff, tenants and pupils from the widest possible pool, there are huge social and economic benefits to us as a chambers.
Chambers currently has two Equality and Diversity Officers (EDOs): Richard Hutchings and Marion Smullen. They are assisted by our chambers’ manager, Tracey McCarthy, who fulfils the function of Diversity Data Officer (DDO). They are always keen to hear others’ views on how chambers can improve on E&D issues.
Every member of chambers who takes part in our pupillage recruitment processes is fully conversant with the Fair Recruitment Guide issued by the Bar Council and receives refresher training on equality and diversity issues prior to the selection of pupils.
In the last year (2018-2019):
- every member of the clerksroom attended Bar Council-led training seminars on Equality and Diversity. We had realised that it was not simply enough that our clerks were friendly, approachable, efficient and equitably-intentioned: we needed also to ensure that they were up to speed with the best possible information available on the panoply of E&D issues. Having undertaken this tailored training, each of our clerks, under the leadership of our Senior Clerk Daren Milton, can have renewed confidence that they are correctly implementing all aspects of chambers’ E&D approach; and those outside chambers who deal with us can continue to have full confidence in our clerksroom.
- the EDOs undertook an assessment of the various E&D policies we have in chambers. This was part of a wider-ranging, ongoing chambers review of our Handbook. As a result of this assessment we have incorporated various aspects of good practice which were already being applied in recent years by our Senior Clerk Daren Milton into a new, written Parental Leave Policy.
- Richard Hutchings (EDO), as part of the Bar Council EDO Network, attended a special meeting with the Bar Standards Board. Delegates were invited to offer input into proposed changes to the BSB Equality and Diversity rules.
- we set up links with an inner city co-educational secondary school in the London Borough of Lambeth. Members of 2KBW have attended the school to speak to students about career opportunities in the legal profession, with the aim of ‘breaking down barriers’ for those who may not have considered that such a career was open to them. We will foster this link into the 2019-2020 academic year, with further careers talks planned, as well as a visit to our chambers by a group of students from the school.
- we became tier 1 sponsors of Women in Criminal Law, an organisation which sets out to connect and promote professional women across the criminal justice sector.
- we undertook a broad-ranging diversity data monitoring process of all our members. This enabled us better to understand where we are as a chambers and where we can improve on our E&D processes. The code of conduct contained in the Bar Standards Board Handbook prohibits the publication of data on various protected characteristics unless consent is received from each member of the workforce. We did not achieve 100% consent to this; however, we can confirm that there is a diversity of religious beliefs and a diversity of sexual orientations within chambers. Key points from the survey include:
- 34% of respondents listed their gender as female
- 58% of respondents attended a UK State School, with 42% of respondents being part of the first generation within their family to attend university
- 32% of respondents considered themselves as the primary carer for children under-18
- 5% of respondents stated that their day-to-day activities were limited to some degree because of a long-term (12 months+) health problem or disability
We will continue to work hard to sustain our commitment to equality and diversity, and we welcome constructive, focused feedback as to how we can best achieve this.