Chambers defy DCA’s diversity ultimatum

Only five of the top 30 barristers’ chambers have responded to a request by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) to publish diversity statistics on their websites, and Essex Court Chambers has refused to comply.

Blackstone Chambers, 20 Essex Street, Maitland Chambers, 7 Bedford Row and King’s Chambers are the only sets to have the information on their websites as of 30 June. A further 11 chambers have told the DCA they plan to publish the information in the future.

Exchange Chambers, which did not respond to the DCA, has nevertheless appointed a diversity officer. Senior junior James Rae has taken up the post and the set is going to be publishing its statistic on the website in the near future.

As first reported by The Lawyer (13 February), Bridget Prentice MP first wrote to the top 30 barristers’ chambers and top 100 law firms last year, asking them to make statistics relating to the demographic make-up of their barristers available by 31 March 2006.

The minister has since sent repeated reminders to both law firms and chambers.

The response of law firms to the DCA request has been as disappointing as the bar’s. Last month (31 July), The Lawyer revealed that just 34 firms had replied to Prentice’s many letters.

The 13 chambers which have yet to respond to the DCA are: 1 Crown Office Row, 3/4 South Square, 39 Essex Street, 7 King’s Bench Walk, Exchange Chambers, Four New Square, Landmark Chambers, Littleton Chambers, One Essex Court, Outer Temple Chambers, No 5 Chambers, Serle Court and XXIV Old Buildings.

Essex Court was unavailable for comment.