One Essex Court is a diverse and inclusive set of chambers with a strong commitment to addressing the significant ongoing issues of underrepresentation both in chambers and across the profession and to achieving genuine equality of opportunity at the bar.
Our equality and diversity work spans three main areas: recruitment; outreach; and internal monitoring and policies. Across these areas, members and clerks engage in a wide range of initiatives, some coordinated by chambers and others organised by the Inns, specialist bar associations and other groups.
This page sets out a regularly updated overview of what we are doing. For more information about our work in this area or if you have an initiative you would like us to support, please contact Daniele Thripp, clerk and member of chambers’ Equality & Diversity Committee.
Equality and Diversity Policy
One Essex Court is committed to promoting and advancing equality and diversity and to providing a working environment in which all individuals are treated equally. Chambers does not discriminate against members, pupils, staff, applicants or clients on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity, nationality, sex, pregnancy or maternity, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, religion, belief or age.
As part of our commitment to equality and diversity, we ensure that all those involved in recruitment have training in fair recruitment, reviews its recruitment procedures annually and monitors the allocation of unassigned work among members and practising pupils.
A copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy can be downloaded here.
Equality and Diversity in Recruitment
One Essex Court is committed to affording equality of opportunity to all applicants for pupillage in chambers. Chambers encourages and welcomes applications from women, people of minority ethnic origin, people with disabilities, LGBT+ people, and other groups under-represented at the Commercial Bar.
We recruit on the basis of merit alone and have a long history of offering pupillage and tenancy to individuals from a wide range of backgrounds.
However, we recognise that chambers, and the commercial bar more broadly, continue to be less diverse than we would like, particularly in respect of women and people of minority ethnic origin. We are committed to changing that.
We therefore want to ensure that we receive applications from a wide range of potential pupils, and assess those applications fairly. The steps we are taking to do that include:
- Providing opportunities to students from groups which are underrepresented at the Commercial Bar e.g. through our Women at the Commercial Bar Programme, participating in COMBAR’s Mentoring Scheme for Underrepresented Groups and hosting Open Days.
- Ensuring our recruitment process is fair, for example by using RARE recruitment (a specialised recruitment company which offers a Contextualised Recruitment System (CRS), designed and built to enable employers to develop a calibrated and properly balanced approach to the process of evaluating pupillage applications) and offering unconscious bias and race training to those involved in the recruitment process.
- Providing sponsorship to a variety of university societies and initiatives which aim to promote diversity.
- Ensuring members of chambers have equal access to opportunities. More information (such as chambers’ Parental Leave policy and diversity data) can be found here.
Parental Leave and Flexible Working
One Essex Court is committed to supporting members and staff taking leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Chambers’ Parental Leave Policy aims to ensure that members do not suffer financial hardship from taking time off and to encourage members to return to chambers following parental leave. A copy of chambers’ Parental Leave Policy can be downloaded here. Chambers also supports flexible working for both members and staff.
Women at the Bar
Women remain underrepresented in chambers and at the commercial bar. Our analysis has shown that the key priority is to encourage more women to consider a career at the Bar. To this end, for the past 7 years, One Essex Court has been running a “Women at the Commercial Bar” programme, involving panel discussions, open days, and a mentoring scheme for potential applicants to the Commercial Bar to connect with a female barrister who can share their experiences and provide career guidance. This academic year, the programme is offering potential applications career clinics, a pupillage application workshop, and a pupillage interviews workshop. More information about this programme can be found here.
Race at the Bar
One Essex Court has members from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. Chambers and the bar as a whole nevertheless remain less socially diverse than we would like. As a chambers and as individuals we are involved in various social mobility initiatives designed to encourage more students from underrepresented backgrounds to consider a career at the bar. These include:
- Bridging the Bar - One Essex Court is a partner of the Bridging the Bar mini-pupillage scheme. Bridging the Bar is a charity committed to the promotion of equal opportunities and diversity at the Bar, at all professional levels.
- Mentoring for Underrepresented Groups: a scheme run by Commercial Barristers’ Chambers - One Essex Court is pleased to be one of the founder members and now working with nine other sets of chambers in support of a mentoring scheme, which aims to support and encourage individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the Commercial Bar) to pursue careers as barristers. More information can be found here.
- Members participate in events run by Business Education Events Ltd, a charity which runs careers-focused events in state schools, including mock interviews and CV advice.
- David Wolfson KC is patron of BVL, an organisation working to improve social mobility in the law: https://www.bvl.org.uk/our-patron.
- We organise regular student open days in chambers, prioritising university students from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Members are also involved in mentoring via the Inner Temple scheme and via schemes operated by other colleges and universities.
Bringing [Dis]Ability to the Bar (BDABar)
One Essex Court is pleased to partner with BDABar and offer mini-pupillages through the group’s Mini-Pupillage Scheme. BDABar is run by and for disabled aspiring barristers, and works to dismantle barriers affecting disabled aspiring barristers and improve accessibility at the Bar. More information can be found here.
One Essex Court is committed to making such reasonable adjustments as may be requested in the context of the Equality Act 2010, in order to remove or reduce substantial disadvantage for disabled people working with chambers or receiving our services. You can view the full reasonable adjustments policy here.
For further information, please contact the clerks on +44 (0)20 7583 2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our equality & diversity data