The bar’s latest diversity statistics show that the profession is still largely dominated by people educated at independent schools, though there has been some progress in representation of women and ethnic minorities.
According to the Diversity at the Bar 2018 report, 33% of barristers who answered a question on where they were educated said they attended a fee-paying school. The national average is 7%.
The question attracted a relatively low response rate. Fewer than half (47%) of the 17,015 barristers surveyed gave an answer. Of the 7,995 responses, 394 were ‘prefer not to say’.
On the questionable assumption that everyone who did not respond went to a state school the report concludes that overall 15.5% of barristers were privately educated.
The 2017 report painted a similar picture. Of 16,857 barristers, 5,919 (35%) disclosed where they went to secondary school. Some 35% (2,081) went to a fee-paying institution.
The Bar Standards Board, which gathered the data, said available figures indicate that a ‘disproportionately high percentage’ of the bar attended a fee-paying secondary school. It adds however, that the response rates are too low to provide a ‘reliable barometer for the profession’.
The diversity report also shows that the percentage of female QCs increased from 14.8% to 15%. Overall, 37% of those practising at the bar are women, largely unchanged from 2017. There was a 99% response rate to this question.
The number of practising barristers who identify as BAME also rose slightly, to 13% from 12.7%. This is in line with the UK population as a whole.