The Association of Women Barristers' (AWB) application for a voting seat on the Bar Council seems doomed to fail before it has started. The council's policy is to only allow applications from groups which cannot effectively be represented by a body already holding a seat. The AWB acknowledge that the Bar Council's constitution may require amendment to include AWB representation. However, it says it has a "much wider constituency than any of the specialist bar associations" currently seated on the council. In the application - made to Bar Council chairman Dan Brennan QC last week - the AWB says continued exclusion would mean the Bar Council is failing in its own mandate to represent "every group" within the Bar. The AWB says that many women are "held back" both in the type and quality of work they receive from chambers, which can ultimately force them out of the profession. This is borne out by statistics which reveal that although about half the students at Bar School are women, they make up only 22 per cent of the practising Bar.