Almost half of female barristers have experienced discrimination at work and 40% have experienced harassment, a major report by the Bar Standards Board has found. Dr Vanessa Davies, director general of the BSB, described the findings as “very disappointing”.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has decided to drop annual diversity surveys of the profession, and make them biennial, to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller law firms. The regulator said the next survey, scheduled for this summer, would not take place until May 2017.
Barristers specialising in professional negligence are more likely than colleagues in any other area of law to generate complaints, a report by the Bar Standards Board has found. The research found that ethnicity did not have an impact on complaints, but gender did, with men more likely to be complained about.
The Lord Chief Justice has predicted that the use of fixed costs will be extended gradually and not in “one big bang”, which people would find “uncomfortable”. Lord Thomas also indicated that litigants at the planned online court would be allowed “minimal legal assistance”.
Lord Hodge, the justice of the Supreme Court representing Scotland, has made it clear that he does not agree with Lord Sumption’s view that it could take 50 years to achieve gender equality in the judiciary. Lord Hodge also said he disagreed with Lady Hale over the issue of positive discrimination.
Widespread failure to comply with diversity rules, cash-flow problems, disguised referral fees and fraud have all been revealed in a Bar Standards Board report on “high impact” chambers. Few chambers also bothered to get feedback from lay clients.
An equal gender balance among practising barristers is “unlikely ever to be achieved” if current trends continue, a Bar Council report has warned. However, there was better news on BAME representation, which is due to hit 20%.
The Legal Services Board has outlined its latest plans to improve the diversity of the profession, which will focus on developing ‘success criteria’ which regulators can use to judge their performance.
More than 80% of barristers have declined to disclose information about their socio-economic backgrounds when asked to do so by their professional regulator, it has emerged.
Delegates at the Global Law Summit have questioned why a major report on the health of the legal services industry included so little on new entrants to the market, smaller firms and diversity.