Raising the bar on diversity – A response to Zoe Saunders

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  • 'For those amongst you who enjoy number crunching, consider this – in 2007/08, 62% of pupil barristers were drawn from the top two socio-economic groups and 68% of pupil barristers attended a Russell Group university. In 2010, 82% of practising barristers were Oxbridge educated.'

    I take your point about difficulties in getting into the profession but surely this statistic is merely a reflection of the fact that barristers (and solicitors for that matter) need to be intelligent and have achieved academic success. I'm not saying that people from other universities are not intelligent, but, put simply, there is a ranking of universities in this country, Surely people in the top professions will be drawn from the top universities; that is simple logic.

    I would venture that the statistic is a reflection of the fact that talented people who go to the bar have achieved success previously (as is required) rather than a reflection of a profession which is elitist and only draws from certain places.

    The statistic itself shows that nearly a fifth of practising barristers were not Oxbridge educated. Does that not show that the opportunities are there if you didn't go to Oxbridge but you have to be good and earn your place the same as everybody else?

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  • Please can you cite the source for "In 2010, 82% of practising barristers were Oxbridge educated. A myth has no discernible basis in fact. This is no myth." I think if you are going to say something is "no myth", you need to say where the study is from.

    I see the 82% figure in a Sutton Trust report here: http://www.suttontrust.com/public/documents/1Comparison_educational_backgrounds.pdf, but this is from 2005, reporting 2004 data and refers to "Leading chambers" (which apparently is seven of the top commercial sets), rather than all barristers.

    Even if the figure is correct (and I'd be interested to see the citation), I agree with the other poster that it is no surprise that the majority of the UK barristers went to two of the best (if not THE two best) universities in the country. My parents did not go to university, I went to a state school etc but then I went to Cambridge and met a wide variety of people there. I studied Law but I'm not a barrister as I didn't consider myself suited to it - or bright enough, to be honest. There were, however, some very very clever people I studied with who were called to the Bar and they were a real mix of people.

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  • The source is here -

    http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/research-reveals-widening-social-divide-profession

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  • I also found that on an internet search but that is a Law Gazette piece from 2010 quoting research by recruiter Laurence Simons, which was based on looking at LinkedIn. The 82% figure is repeated there but actually that info isn't referenced or dated in the piece. I'd be interested to know if it is a reference to the 2005 Sutton Trust data (which was limited to a number of top commercial sets as noted above).
    Is the author basing the 82% figure on that link?
    I might check out the other number in this piece to see if they stack up (yes, I have time on my hands!)

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  • An excellent article that debunks the 'myth' that the bar is meritocracy.

    To believe otherwise is living in cloud cuckoo land.

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