A decades-old campaign to improve women’s representation at the higher levels of the bar bore fruit last week with the opening of a childcare facility in central London.

The Bar Nursery, at West Smithfield, will offer childcare facilities at special rates for all members of the bar, chambers staff and Bar Council employees.

It is open to children aged eight weeks to five years between 7am and 7pm, five days a week.

Further nurseries may be set up outside London, similarly geared to the working lives of barristers with young children, depending on local demand, the Bar Council said.

The initiative follows a campaign going back as far as the 1970s. Five years ago, the Bar Council set up a committee dedicated to the creation of a nursery. Members originally hoped to secure premises within one of the four Inns of Court.

In recent years, women have been entering the profession in equal or higher numbers than men, but they are still under-represented at higher levels within the profession and among the judiciary.

Bar chair Maura McGowan QC said: ‘Owing to the nature of work at the bar, many parents find it exceptionally difficult to juggle childcare responsibilities with their ever-changing work schedule, particularly those barristers who regularly appear in court.’