Equality is Bar priority

I was saddened to read Azra Ali's reaction to the recent Bar Conference (The Lawyer 7 October).

As vice-chairman of the Bar Council's sex discrimination committee may I make some brief comments which I hope will enable her to see our profession in a rather better light.

(1) Earlier this year the Bar Council accepted and adopted a comprehensive equality code for chambers which is widely regarded as a model for any profession.

(2) In the past year the council has worked closely with officials of the Lord Chancellor's Department to encourage more women to apply for judicial appointments, without in any way arguing for the positive discrimination which Azra Ali rightly rejects.

(3) In the last 12 months the number of men in private practice at the Bar increased by 222. In the same period the number of women in private practice increased by 215. Now women account for nearly a quarter of the practising Bar. Fifteen years ago it was only 10 per cent.

We are moving in the right direction, and the pace of change can only get faster.

Martin Rowley QC

The Chambers of James Hunt QC.