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Reports of harassment or bullying and discrimination within the barristers’ profession, as well as reports of observations of harassment or bullying and discrimination, have increased, with the most common type being gender-based bullying.
The report, “Barristers’ Working Lives 2017: Harassment and bullying”, released by the Bar Council found gender-based bullying and harassment accounted for 53% of cases, up 5% from 2013 data.
More barristers in criminal practice reported personal experiences of harassment or bullying, compared to those in chancery and commercial practice. At the self-employed Bar, fellow barristers were most frequently reported as responsible for the bullying, harassment or discrimination.
The report showed 21% of employed and 12% of self-employed barrister respondents said that they had personally experienced harassment or bullying at work in the two years prior to the survey. This indicates an increase of such instances of 3% at the employed Bar and 5% at the self-employed Bar when compared to 2013.
Some 16% of employed and 13% of self-employed respondents said they had experienced discrimination. This also signals an increase on 2013 (of 4% at the employed Bar and 5% at the self-employed Bar). Thirty per cent of employed and 17% of self-employed barristers said they had observed bullying or harassment (an increase of 9% and 8% respectively from 2013). 20% of employed and 15% of self-employed barristers said they had observed discrimination in their workplace (an increase of 5% and 7% respectively compared to 2013).
Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, said: “The findings in this report explore the prevalence and nature of reports of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the profession. The results are a cause for concern and cannot be ignored. As a profession, we must do much better. We do not and will not tolerate harassment and bullying at the Bar.
“I hope the findings in this latest report remind everyone to be vigilant and to take responsibility by challenging this behaviour. We must get much tougher on this, and support each other better.”
Meanwhile, figures released by the Law Society of England and Wales last week show there are now more women than men practising as solicitors as well as a steadily growing proportion of solicitors from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.
The figures show women now make up 50.1% of the 139,624 practising certificate holders and 48% of the 93,155 solicitors working in private practice. Women made up 61.6% of new admissions in 2016/17.