'Competitive Strategies for Mid-Sized Law Firms' now published

Thursday 5 September 2019

Garden Court is pleased to announce that Charlotte Ogilvie, Marketing and Communications Executive, authored chapter 9: 'Access to the Bar for all ', not the few.

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Competitive Strategies for Mid-Sized Law Firms (ARK Group, September 2019) is available to purchase now. The book, edited by Alex Davies, offers an in-depth examination of why and how mid-sized law firms are in a unique position to compete and go head-to-head with 'Big Law'. 

The executive summary states:

"Many firms will state their commitment to greater inclusivity and accessibility, but few will actually put in place schemes that command significant resources and input in order to guarantee it. Garden Court Chambers, a leading UK firm based in central London, is the exception. Its pioneering program “Access to the Bar for all” – which won Diversity Initiative of the Year at the 2017 UK Diversity Legal Awards – moves past the traditional one-week shadowing scheme format and aims to tackle the issues faced by young people from underprivileged backgrounds by providing long-term guidance and support in the form of extensive mentoring and funding. In chapter nine, Charlotte Ogilvie, marketing and communications executive, delves into the mechanics, context, and impact of the scheme, providing an inspiring and compelling example for other mid-sized firms to follow."

The scheme, 'Access to the Bar for All', which is constantly evolving, encourages students from minority and disadvantaged groups to consider a career as a barrister. 16-year-old students, girls and/or those from ethnic minority and disadvantaged groups are offered mentoring for five years and paid internships at Garden Court. Students on the scheme also have the opportunity to be awarded a £7000 per year scholarship to assist with living expenses at university if they go on to study a law degree at undergraduate level. This year the opportunity for mentees to work as paid administrative staff at Chambers for three months over the summer was also introduced to expand their 'behind the scenes' knowledge. 

One of the mentees on the scheme, Khadeza Ali, says:

"If you want to have good lawyers, and you want to have justice, then naturally you have to have a wide range of people who are allowed to, and actively encouraged to, access the Bar"

"Allowing young people from BAME and working-class backgrounds, and/or women to come in and experience [the Bar] and see that the inside is a place that they need to aspire to be in so that they can make change is vital. You can't sit on the outside and change it. You have to understand it fully and be part of it to have an impact."

Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations and Human Resources at Garden Court Chambers pioneered the mentoring scheme in conjunction with Leslie Thomas QC, Chair and Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers and housing and community care barrister, Connor Johnston of Garden Court. Barristers from Garden Court have kindly agreed to provide mentoring to students over the course of five years. The current mentor barristers are: Helen CurtisJo CecilGemma LoughranPaul ClarkConnor Johnston, and Ann Osborne.

We hope that many other chambers and law firms will follow suit and set up their own long-term schemes to address the lack of diversity at the Bar and tap into the rich vein of talent available from underrepresented groups, who have so much to gain by being welcomed and supported by the legal profession, but also so much to offer.

Charlotte Ogilvie has previously had a chapter published on the scheme in ARK Group's The Diversity Agenda: Lessons and Guidance from the Legal Profession (April 2018). She has also written about it for the Bar Council blog. You can found out more about the scheme on our website.

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