Members of staff

Communications

Director of External Relations & Communication

Steven Rudaini

Senior Public Affairs and Communications Advisor

Luke Robins-Grace

Communications Officer (Policy & Campaigns)

Shiryn Sayani

Read more about the Communications team here

Policy

Director of Policy 

Phil Robertson

Phil joined the Bar Council in January 2015. He began his career qualifying as a Scots solicitor after studying Law at the University of Edinburgh. He then worked as a pensions solicitor in London at Slaughter and May and Eversheds LLP. Marriage to an Army lawyer took Phil to Cyprus for four and a half years during which time he worked in policy for a military charity, working with the chain of command to represent and promote the interests of Army families. On returning to the UK Phil launched a new arm of the charity, with responsibility for representing all families on overseas postings, some 80 countries. Phil's work at the Bar Council covers policy analysis and development, stakeholder liaison and engagement, project and programme management, leadership and management.

Head of Policy, Legal Affairs & Practice and Ethics

Ellie Cumbo

Ellie joined the Bar Council in June 2016. Prior to this, she spent most of her career working on strategy, research and campaigns in the voluntary sector, including advising hundreds of offender rehabilitation charities on 2015’s major probation reforms. She was previously the policy lead on Restorative Justice and Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme at Victim Support, and has also coordinated a network of women’s services campaigning to prevent gendered violence at the End Violence Against Women Coalition. Ellie studied English Literature at Oxford University; she went on to undertake the GDL and is a member of Middle Temple. At the Bar Council, she manages the Ethical Enquiries Service and works closely with the Chair and the Legal Services Committee and Ethics Committee to influence government, the BSB and other stakeholders on important policy and practice developments affecting the Bar.

Policy Analyst, Legal Affairs & Practice and Ethics 

Melanie Mylvaganam

Mel joined the Bar Council in August 2015. She has a BA (Hon) in English Literature and Psychology from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. Mel has worked in communications, regulatory policy and taught English in Thailand before coming to the UK and beginning work at the Bar Council. Around work, Mel is also currently undertaking a part-time MA in International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University of London. Mel’s policy areas cover IT, anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing, ethics and Brexit. Mel is also an Ethical Advisor on the Ethical Enquiries Service.

Head of Policy, Regulatory Issues and Law Reform

Natalie Darby

Natalie joined the Bar Council in December 2012. She has a BSc in Government from the London School of Economics. Prior to the Bar Council, Natalie worked on a Foreign Office-funded democracy building programme for five years with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and completed the GDL by attending evening classes. Natalie has held several different roles at the Bar Council working first as Senior International Projects Officer in the International team before moving into policy. Natalie currently works on regulatory policy issues and with the Law Reform Committee on law reform issues in the public interest. Natalie is an ethical adviser on the Ethical Enquiries Service. She is also responsible for training new ethical advisers and continuing training of the Policy Team on BSB Handbook issues.

Head of Policy, Remuneration and Employed Bar

Adrian Vincent

Adrian joined the Bar Council in May 2007. He began his career as a graduate trainee for an insurance company. Then, for twelve years he worked for the national institutions of the Church of England, during which time he also obtained an MA in Biblical Studies from King’s College London.  For his more than ten years at the Bar Council, Adrian has worked in barristers’ remuneration. He has gained expertise in legal aid fee schemes and a good understanding of conditional fee agreements. Adrian is the Executive of the Bar Council’s Remuneration Committee, and oversees the Executive of the Employed Barristers’ Committee. Adrian is also an Ethical Advisor on the Ethical Enquiries Service.

Policy Analyst, Remuneration and Employed Bar

Emily Timcke

Emily joined the Bar Council in August 2017. Prior to this, she studied Law at the University of Sheffield, where she was involved with a local charity working to improve access to justice for individual asylum seekers. Emily then worked as a trainee manager at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College where she helped to launch a new MSc and analyse the department's work on advancing gender equality, representation and progression. At the Bar Council, Emily is responsible for managing the work of the Employed Barristers' Committee and the Civil Public Panel. Emily's work includes research, development and project management. Emily is also an advisor on the Ethical Enquiries Service. 

Head of Policy, Equality & Diversity and CSR

Sam Mercer

Sam joined Bar Council in June 2013. Prior to this, she worked on a portfolio of consultancy projects for blue-chip companies, NHS Trusts, charities and government and was Workplace Director at Business In the Community (BITC), the UK’s leading business-led charity promoting responsible business practice. She also worked on a gender equality campaign in Tanzania and holds a Masters in Corporate Social Responsibility. Sam is an award-winning campaigner and her work at Bar Council includes the Bar Mentoring Service, Wellbeing at the Bar, Snapshot research on the experience of women at the Bar, the ‘EDO Network’ and the Equality & Diversity Helpline. 

Policy Analyst, Education & Training

Benjamin Burns

Ben joined Bar Council in July 2017. He read philosophy at the University of York, including a year on exchange in California. After completing the GDL and BPTC at City University, he was awarded a scholarship by the International Bar Association, to spend a summer working at a legal aid clinic in Cape Town. For two years, Ben taught A-level law and worked as a policy consultant for a group of schools. At the Bar Council, Ben is focussed on improving access to the profession, with lead responsibility for policy and project work in education and training. Key projects include the Pupillage Gateway, the Pupillage Fair, the Bar Placement Scheme and Future Bar Training. 

Head of Policy, International

Christian Wisskirchen  

Christian joined the Bar Council in Feburary 2003. After completing his undergraduate law degree at Bonn University, he specialised in public international law (LL.M., University of London). Subsequently he spent several years working in human rights, first for the UN in Haiti and then for human rights NGOs in London. He joined the Law Society of England & Wales for four years to work on - among other matters -  the implementation of the EU Lawyers regime and negotiating practice rights for English solicitors in Eastern Europe. At the Bar Council, he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to promote the international interests of the Bar, advising on international legal trade and regulatory matters and overseeing rule of law cooperation with legal professions abroad. He is an alumni “young leader” of the German Transatlantic Institute “Atlantik Brücke” and was a member of the FCO’s Rule of Law Experts Panel from 2004-2008. He is a member of the Executive Committee (and former Chair of) the Haiti Support Group.

International Policy & Programme Manager

Jessica Crofts-Lawrence

Jessica joined the Bar Council in April 2014. Prior to this, she studied Law at the University of Surrey, where she competed in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. She also volunteered with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and in orphanages in Vietnam. She is currently reading for a Masters in International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Her research is in the field of International Criminal Law. At the Bar Council, Jessica is responsible for a number of significant policy projects in the fields of international business development, international rule of law, and liaison and policy work with international legal associations and professional bodies. She manages a number of exchange and training programmes for overseas lawyers and has designed and organised missions and events in Brazil, Russia and Kazakhstan to promote the Bar and the jurisdiction of England and Wales. She has a keen interest in international rule of law issues and is responsible for the Bar Council’s flagship Annual International Rule of Law lecture.

Services

Commercial Director

Isabel DiVanna 

Isabel is a Director-level strategist and business development professional. She joined the Bar Council in July 2017, having previously held the post of Commercial Director at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She has worked as a director of corporate partnerships and business development in London and in Cambridge, and she spent many years working on professional development, continuing training and executive education, following a career as a lecturer in History in Cambridge. She has experience working in the professional services (consulting, research and advisory) and not-for-profit sectors (education, charities, Royal Charter and local authority) seeking to grow their revenues through partnerships, sales, commercial activities and fundraising. Isabel is experienced in change-management projects aiming to make the organisation more nimble to explore new opportunities while improving costs. She has worked internationally and trans-nationally, her remit extending into policy-making as well as external affairs and communications. Isabel has two PhDs in history and moral & political philosophy, a PCGE and an MBA, various professional certificates. Outside of work, she is the Vice Chair of the Board and Trustee at Tuberous Sclerosis Association, a Trustee of the British Lung Foundation, Governor at Parkside Federation Academies, and advisor to the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Technology Museum and to Baby Lifeline (a charity devoted to training obstetricians and gynaecologists in the UK).  

Click here to find out more about our senior management team.

Executive Office

Head of Governance

Natalie Zara

Executive Officer

Vivien Kintu 

Executive Support Assistant

Zahra Munshi 

Special Advisor to the Chair on Representation and Policy 

Mark Hatcher

Mark Hatcher is the Bar Council's Special Advisor to the Chairman on Representation and Policy.

From 2000-2003 Mark was a member of the Regulatory and Professional Affairs Board and Head of Global Public Affairs for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In 2006 he was appointed to lead the Bar Council's Representation and Policy Directorate after having established the public policy advocacy practice of a leading City-based corporate and financial communications consultancy.

Mark was Called to the Bar by Middle Temple after graduating from the University of Oxford, where he won the Winter Williams Law Prize. He is also an ad eundem member of Lincoln's Inn. Mark practised at 3 New Square chambers before joining the Law Commission to work on family and private international law reform. He subsequently worked in the House of Lords, in the Legislation Group of the Lord Chancellor's Department (now the Ministry of Justice), before leaving Whitehall to join the Strategy, Policy and Economics Group of Coopers & Lybrand's management consultancy, where he established the firm's public affairs consulting practice.

Mark has led a number of the Bar's Parliamentary campaigns and played a key role in establishing the Bar Council's Communications and Member Services departments, directing the Bar's media relations and developing the Bar Council's international relations functions (including its Brussels Office).

Mark is a Bencher of Middle Temple, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a Corporate and European Fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust. He is also a non-stipendiary priest in the Church of England and was appointed Reader of the Temple in 2015. He is married to Clare, a partner in a City law firm. 

Finance

Director of Finance
Richard Cullen

Human Resources

Director of Human Resources
Catherine Shaw

Information Services

Chief Information Officer 
Poli Avramidis
DDI: 0203 657 4013

Head of Information Services 
Robert McCracken 
DDI: 020 7611 1359  

Office Management

Head of Facilities and Property 
Andy Curtis
DDI: 020 7611 1300

Project Management Office

Head of Project Management Office
Andrew Wylie

Records

Records Manager
John Mathias

The Brussels Office

Consultant Director
Evanna Fruithof 
Tel: 00 322 230 4810

Click here to found out more about the Brussels Office.

Directors' Cut

Executive Team

Our recent 'Spotlight' feature explored how the Policy team contribute to the Bar Council's work, but this is only one part of how we represent you. In upcoming BarTalks, Directors of the different functions that make up the Bar Council will be sharing behind-the-scenes insights about how their teams help deliver the Bar Council's extensive mission. 

Natalie Zara, Head of Governance

Before coming to work for the Bar Council, I was a qualified museums' professional and archivist working in many museums and archives across London including the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture and Senate House.  Tired of the slow-moving environment I became a School Registrar at Holland Park School for four years overseeing the examinations, attendance, student services and admissions departments.  Life was far from slow paced at the school and I soon learnt how to juggle a range of conflicting demands on my time, not to mention demanding parents and students! 

Finally, in 2012, frankly exhausted, I applied for the Operational Support Team Manager role in the Professional Conduct Department of the BSB.  The role enabled me to use my administrative and archival skills in a challenging yet truly fascinating environment and in 2016, ready for a new challenge I moved to the Bar Council to become Head of Governance.

My team is small.  I manage the Executive Assistant who provides PA support to the Chair and Officers the Executive Support Assistant who serves the Chief Executive.  However, our roles are far wider than that.  For my part I oversee and monitor the business planning processes for the Representation, Policy and Services part of the Bar Council, I set the Executive Office budget, maintain the Bar Council risk register, ensure that the Regulatory Independence Protocol between the BSB and Bar Council is adhered to and its processes followed, facilitate changes to the Constitution or Standing Orders when the need arises, organise the internal Operational Management Board and take responsibility for the administration of the 'joint' BSB and Bar Council committees including running recruitment campaigns when members leave.

Much of my role revolves around the administration of the Bar Council from acting as Secretary and writing the minutes to advertising vacancies, finding accommodation for meetings and dealing with attendance concerns.  I am responsible for ensuring that the Bar Council elections (both office and subscriber) run smoothly each year and I oversee the recruitment processes for Bar Council committees ensuring that the committees are fairly balanced and that new members of the Bar Council get the opportunity to join one.  I enjoy this very much as I am always thoroughly impressed by the amount of time that barristers are prepared to commit to the Bar Council and its committees.  The Summer Reception, which my team organises, is a highlight for me as it is an opportunity for the Bar Council to thank those barristers, and staff members, in a less formal setting. 

Services Team

Dr Isabel DiVanna, Commercial Director

The Bar Council's Services team brings together three separate functions: Member Services, BARCO and Commercial Services and Training & Events. We employ two Member Services Coordinators who, working with Records, answer queries on matters such as the Bar Representation Fee, the Bar Directory/Juriosity, Arbitration and Mediation Services, the Pupillage Gateway, Direct Access Portal, to name a few. Training & Events brings together a team of five, delivering training courses and the events commissioned by the Policy team. These include the Annual Bar & Young Bar Conference, all Young Bar and International events, the Opening of the Legal Year, the Law Reform lecture, and all public access, GDPR and soft skills courses, amongst others. BARCO is our escrow; we have a dedicated team member with expertise in banking services managing this and also taking care of the Business Partnerships portfolio.

We work with the Bar Representation Committee to "sense check" ideas with barristers to identify opportunities to develop new services and products and improve. But the dynamics are different, as the lionshare of barrister and staff attention really goes to policy and lobbying work. So the Services department delivers funds, but they are very modest - less than 15% of the Bar Council's income comes from this department (and the Bar Representation Fee is about 10% of this). I have done my best to keep departmental costs very low (staff-wise), and focus on the things the Bar Council REALLY needs to deliver to the Bar because they find it valuable, because they trust the Bar Council to deliver it, and because we are credible as a service provider in the area.

Communications & Marketing team

Steve Rudaini, Director of External Relations & Communication

The broad remit of the Bar Council's Communications & Marketing team is like no other I have encountered in my career. The team of four people is responsible for all Bar Council media/press relations, five social media channels with extensive followings (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), barrister-facing communications, such as BarTalk, International Update and other e-newsletters, website content updates, internal communications and, with the assistance of the Special Adviser to the Chair of the Bar, public affairs and lobbying those in Whitehall and Westminster. On top of that, my team markets our Business Partner communications and other Bar Council services to the profession.

Few organisations place all of this activity in one team; it has its challenges, but the team has raised the Bar Council's profile and influence across a wide range of audiences and through different channels in the last few years. My team enables the Bar Council's voice to be heard, working closely with Policy and other teams to ensure the Bar Council is doing its job of representing the views of barristers in England & Wales. Some of what we do goes under the radar, but is as valuable as grabbing headlines. 

The Communications & Marketing team's work is vital in ensuring the Bar Council and the profession it represents is visible to and heard by the public, policy-makers and other audiences on key topics and issues. In addition, the team's work is essential to the profession's understanding the work of the Bar Council as a whole. 

Much of this important work would not be possible without funding from the Bar Representation Fee (BRF).