I read Lawyer-2-be’s comments on diversity and age in relation to entry to the Bar with interest. As regular visitors will know, the problems of mature entrants to the legal profession is something of a (self-interested) hobbyhorse of mine.
Pleasing though it is to see Lawyer-2-be’s report of a wide age range on the BVC, I am not wholly convinced that the feeling that relative age is a hindrance reported by fellow students is wholly (or at all) attributable to a lack of representation in brochures. Having said that, age is most certainly a blind spot, to put it kindly. For example, may I refer my friend to ‘the Chairman’s Report‘ of February 2007 on the Bar Council site, on the topic of Entry to the Bar and diversity issues. Count the number of references to young people and contrast with mention of mature entrants (of any background) – as a clue, mention of the latter is zero.
What would be interesting would be to find out how many of the mature BVC students had pupillages (and how many would eventually get one), and then do some quick sums on proportion of BVC studenthood v proportion of pupillage.
My anecdotal sense from friends on the GDL/CPE who headed Bar-wards is that relative age was and is a definite problem, perhaps even more so than for wannabe solicitors and heaven knows that is pretty bad.
One anecdotal but first hand report was from a 35 year old someone told by a member of a chambers’ pupillage committee that, despite their otherwise impeccable background (Oxbridge etc.), there was really no point in going for the bar at their age, because nobody would believe they would be prepared to put up with the first few years of hell and desperation. It was a commercial chambers, granted, but still.
In 2004, the Bar was something like 82% Oxbridge educated and 71% male. The figures on gender balance may have improved, a bit, but progress otherwise is slow. (Intriguingly, the 2004 proportion of the Bar that was white, 89.8%, pretty accurately mirrors the UK figure for white ethnic background in 2001/2). I can find no figures on age at entry to the Bar, but I am fairly sure what the pattern would be. I do hope the Lawyer-2-be is rightly confident that mature entry is a significant proportion and increasing, but, frankly, I doubt it.