The Bar Council has claimed that the perception of the bar as a profession for the privileged is ‘outdated’ – but it is unable to say what percentage of barristers attended state school.

It published a report last week showing a range of initiatives taken to encourage access to the profession by those from lower socio-economic groups.

As an example of the progress made by the bar in increasing diversity, its chairman Desmond Browne QC said that 23% of pupillages are now taken up by people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Bar Council statistics show 16% of barristers in 2008 were from ethnic minority backgrounds and 34% were women, but the council has no figures on educational background.

Inner Temple was the only one of the four inns able to provide information on the schooling of its members. Data revealed that 71% of its current student intake attended state school, compared to 93% of the general population.

Launching the report, No Bar to the Bar, Browne commented: ‘The perception of a privileged profession, narrowly drawn and recruiting in its own image, is progressively more outdated.’