The Bar remains dominated by individuals who attended fee-paying schools, according to the latest statistics released by its regulator, which also show a reluctance by barristers to reveal their educational background.
Fewer than half (47%) of barristers responded to the question on what type of school they attended, but the figures from the Bar Standards Board showed that even if all the barristers who chose not to respond to this question had gone to state schools, the proportion of barristers who went to independent schools would be 15.5% – twice as high as the 7% of the population at large.
But the actual figure is likely to be much higher than that. Of those who did provide information on their educational background, around 33% attended an independent school in the UK.
Elsewhere, men continue to outnumber the number of women at the Bar, with 62% of the profession made up of men. The number of women barristers increased by 0.4% during the last year.
The percentage of barristers from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background is more in line with the general population and has also increased slightly (by 0.3%) over the last year. 13% of the profession, according to the figures, come from a BAME background.
The statistics showed that the gender and ethnic diversity of pupil barristers is roughly in line with the population of England and Wales, with 50.4% of pupils being female and 16.3% from a BAME background.
BSB director of strategy and policy Ewen Macleod said: ‘The more accessible the Bar is, the better it is able to represent the society it serves. Equality and diversity are priorities for us as a regulator and the data show that there was a steady improvement in gender and ethnic diversity at the Bar during 2018.’
But, he added: ‘We are aware that more needs to be done.’