Government’s bar panels given diversity targets

The Attorney General Baroness Scotland has drawn up a list of equality and diversity targets for chambers looking to keep their barristers on the Government’s panels of counsel.

Scotland has called on chambers to boost their diversity credentials by broadening their intake within the next four years. She expects sets to have written policies and action plans on diversity and requires these to be implemented.

The Attorney General, supported by the Solicitor General Vera Baird QC, wants each chambers to have a designated equal opportunities officer and to consider positive action “to address significant under-representation of particular groups”.

Scotland said promoting equality was essential to enable individuals to fulfil their potential, for the creation of a cohesive society and for a strong economy.

“This is a strategy for everyone ;in ;the ;legal ­profession. In practice it will ensure that counsel are more representative of the public and that government draws ;on ;the ;widest
possible pool of talent when ­recruiting and promoting lawyers,” said Scotland.

Chambers will also be expected to monitor all applicants for pupillage or membership by disability, ethnicity and gender, which should then be reported to the Attorney General’s office.

Failure to meet these expectations could lead to barristers not being reconsidered for panels following their five-year tenures.