Equal opportunities in interviewing techniques

Nick Hilborne reports

BARRISTERS responsible for selecting pupils are to receive special training in interview techniques to help fulfil the Bar Council's commitment to equal opportunities.

The Bar is responding to calls for training in "objective selection techniques" after publication of its equality code for chambers two years ago.

It has hired training consultancy CEPEC to provide training seminars on the legal definitions of discrimination, selection criteria, job analysis, short listing and interview techniques.

Bar equal opportunities officer, Pamela Bhalla, says: "Many chambers have to identify the four or five best candidates from 400 to 700 highly qualified applicants of both sexes and from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

"For example, 19 per cent of barristers in private practice are female but 45 per cent of applicants for pupillage are female."

The first opportunity to put the lessons of the seminars to the test will be later this year when the next selection of pupils takes place.

"It is no secret that entry into the profession has, in the past, depended very heavily on contacts and networking but, as this is replaced by the fair employment practices being encouraged by the Bar Council, the membership profile of the profession will change and better reflect the society in which barristers operate," she says.