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Bar Council chair: cost of qualifying will harm diversity

Written by: Richard Simmons
Published on: 23 Feb 2016

Bar Council chair article

The chair of the Bar Council has warned that the huge cost of qualifying as a barrister will have a negative impact on the profession.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC told The Guardian that with increased undergraduate tuition fees and Bar Profession Training Course priced at as much as £19,000 in London, the cost of qualifying could approach £127,000.

“The cost of qualifying creates a huge social mobility challenge, which is why we have developed initiatives such as bar placement week and mentoring programmes to encourage able students from non-privileged backgrounds to set their sights on a career at the bar,” said Doerries.

“Bursaries and scholarships are available, and some may have savings or come from a wealthy background, but for most people, funding for their qualification will come from juggling study and part-time work, student and commercial loans, and family contributions.”

A recent report by the Bar Standards Board revealed that at least 47 per cent of pupils went to state school compared with at least 31 per cent who went to a fee-paying institution.

It also reported that only 6 per cent of QCs declared themselves to be of black/minority ethnic background, compared with 12 per cent of the practising bar as a whole.

A separate survey by the Sutton Trust and PRIME found that three quarters of the UK’s top judges and QCs went to private school.