Access to the profession

Social Mobility Business Compact

As part of the Coalition Government’s Social Mobility Strategy, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a business compact, asking businesses to help to ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

The Bar Council signed up to the compact, which calls on businesses to:

Support communities and local schools:

  • Participate in mentoring schemes for young people, allow staff time off and reward them for getting involved and enable schools and businesses to work together, and
  • Encourage staff at least once a year to talk about their careers as part of a programme to raise aspiration and build knowledge about the world of work.

Improve skills and create jobs by providing opportunities for all young people to get a foot on the ladder:

  • Advertise work experience opportunities in local schools rather than filling them through informal networks, and
  • Offer internships openly and transparently and provide financial support to ensure fair access.

Improve quality of life and wellbeing by recruiting openly and fairly, ensuring non-discrimination:

  • Including increased use of name-blank and school-blank applications where appropriate.

Click here to read more about the compact on the Deputy Prime Minister's website.

Gateways to the Professions

The Government's Gateways to the Professions initiative was set up by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to tackle the issues and barriers faced by talented students from low income families seeking to enter the professions through higher education.

As part of this initiative, the Bar Council has signed up to the voluntary Best Practice Code for High-Quality Internships, which provides guidance to professions offering internships and will help to ensure that both interns and employers obtain the maximum benefit from such placements.

Click here to read more about the Gateways to the Professions initiative.

Entry to the Bar Working Party Report, Lord Neuberger, 2007

In 2006, Lord Neuberger accepted the invitation of the then Chairman of the Bar, Stephen Hockman QC, to explore the topic of barriers to entry to the Bar.  Lord Neuberger delivered a comprehensive report in 2007, "Entry to the Bar,” available here. 

The Neuberger Report made 57 recommendations that have informed the Bar’s social mobility (widening access) work to date. A monitoring and implementation group, the NMIG, was formed and chaired by David Pittaway QC to take forward the report’s recommendation The majority of the recommendations have now been met, with the remainder either now considered redundant due to wider changes or being implemented by the Bar Council’s Social Mobility Committee.

Fair Access to Professional Careers, Alan Milburn MP, 2009 and 2012

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn MP and his Fair Access Panel’s ‘Unleashing Aspiration‘ report,  published two years later in 2009, acknowledged Lord Neuberger’s work but exerted further pressure on the Bar by noting that law was one of the most socially exclusive professions. It made 88 recommendations to professions, employers, universities, schools and government.

 Milburn’s ‘Fair Access to Professional Careers Report,  published in 2012, looked at specific professions and made recommendations for further action to build on those in ‘Unleashing Aspiration’ to improve social mobility. This report concludes that without further and faster action on the part of the professions, government and others, Britain risks squandering the social mobility dividend that the growth in professional employment offers our country. Whilst the Bar is singled out for praise for the steps it has taken, the report warns that the pace of change is still not quick enough.