Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme wins Chambers Diversity Initiative of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

Thursday 30 November 2017

We are delighted to announce that the Garden Court Chambers’ long term mentoring scheme won the Chambers Diversity Initiative of the Year at the UK Diversity Legal Awards held on 28 November 2017. Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar Council, presented the award.

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An initiative of the Black Solicitors Network, the awards are the only industry awards which focus solely on recognising, promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion across the legal profession.

The Garden Court ‘Access to the Bar for All’ scheme 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 in the scheme 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.

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 mentor barristers are: Di Middleton QC, Jo Cecil, Paul Clark, Helen Curtis, Gemma Loughran and Ann Osborne.

Oaklands School in Bethnal Green, London, is one of the schools with students participating in the scheme. Hannah Dalton, Head of Sixth Form at Oaklands School said:

“There are very few schemes which recognise the many barriers faced by young people when applying for the Bar, such as being closed out by well-connected, fee-paying contemporaries and the overwhelming costs of University and the Bar course.”

“Garden Court Chambers’ scheme is so good because it recognises that one week shadowing schemes, common across the legal field, have little impact on increasing diversity at the Bar as they don’t address the issues faced by young people from underprivileged backgrounds. The longer view taken by this scheme is crucial, because the barristers provide support to my students beyond sixth form as they make choices at University, where typically there is little specialised guidance available.”

Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations and Human Resources said:

“Garden Court is thrilled and honoured to be recognised at the Diversity Legal Awards for our long term mentoring scheme. Bar Standards Board statistics show that only 36% of practising barristers are women, while only 12% are from BAME backgrounds. There is an overrepresentation of those who attend fee-paying schools at the Bar and barristers are more likely than not to have at least one parent who went to university. We now hope many other chambers will set up 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 offer the legal profession.”

Read more about the scheme in our guest blog on The Bar Council website.

For further details about the Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme, please contact Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations & HR on miah@gclaw.co.uk.

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