Local council employers accused of anti-Bar bias

Local authority employers are unfairly discriminating against barristers when recruiting for senior local government posts, according to the Bar Association for Local Government and the Public Sector.

Mirza Ahmad, association treasurer and head of legal services at Bolton Metro, said some local authorities were blatantly refusing to appoint barristers to certain local government legal jobs.

“There is no sound reason why barristers should not be considered equally with solicitor colleagues for all legal posts in local government,” he said.

“My main concern is high-level positions where, traditionally, local authorities seem to be excessively biased towards solicitors. There are some progressive local authorities which do not see it as a hindrance, and part of the problem may be through ignorance.”

One possible reason for appointing solicitors rather than barristers is that employed barristers cannot currently be described as “solicitor on record” on the court register. But, said Ahmad, this did not mean they could not do the relevant work.

As a result, he will be asking the Bar Council to register as an authorised body for litigators, which would do away with the problem, and he would like to hear from barristers who have experienced pro-solicitor bias.