Social mobility

What is social mobility?

Bar Council adopts the Social Mobility Commission's definition for social mobility:

“Social mobility is the link between a person’s occupation or income and the occupation or income of their parents. Where there is a strong link, there is a lower level of social mobility. Where there is a weak link, there is a higher level of social mobility”.

What the Bar Council is doing to promote social mobility

Our ambition is to improve socio-economic diversity at all levels of the profession (pupils, junior barristers, and Silks).  To do this we need to support the recruitment and retention of students and barristers from intermediate (clerical and intermediate occupations; small business owners) and lower socio-economic backgrounds (technical and craft occupations; routine, semi-routine manual, and service occupations; long-term unemployed), and also care leavers.


Bar Council monitors the socio-economic background of applicants to the Bar, and of members of the Bar. As recommended in the Social Mobility Commission’s Employers Toolkit, we are looking to adopt recommended good practice by asking monitoring questions on:

  • (i) the occupation of the main household earner at age 14
  • (ii) the type of secondary school attended
  • (iii) eligibility for free school meals 
  • (iv) whether parents attended university

To achieve our ambition, we need to encourage monitoring and disclosure in relation socio-economic questions (disclosure is currently low at approx. 20%) – this means we can set a baseline (where we are now) and set targets for improvement.


We are keen to support work across the Bar to improve social mobility. We work closely with the Inns of Court, the Social Mobility Foundation, Sutton Trust (Pathways to Law) and Bridging the Bar.

Spotlight on good practice

To support social mobility across the Bar, the Inns of Court, Specialist Bar Associations, Circuits, and individual chambers currently offer:

  • Targeted outreach (talks in schools)
  • Mentoring
  • Financial Support
  • Paid internships/mini-pupillages
  • Skills training  

Get in touch

Bar Council is keen to identify and share good practice. If you are working on a programme to support social mobility at the Bar, please tell us about it

Contact us