D&I Highlights from Chambers UK Solicitor and Bar Guides 2021

The 2021 releases of Chambers UK Guides are the most comprehensive guides yet. As our research process continuously evolves with the latest technology, sector developments and client needs, we are delighted to now include more in-depth coverage of ranked firms and individuals than ever before.

One of the key areas we have been making changes in is our approach to diversity and inclusion. While the last five years have seen the percentage of ranked lawyers who are female gradually increasing, we did not feel this was enough to accurately reflect top talent in the profession. 

In our 2020 research cycle, we introduced to our research a question on diversity and inclusion, as well as requesting an even gender-split of client referees. We are delighted to say that, since those changes were made, the percentage of newly ranked lawyers who are female has jumped from 42% to 51% in the UK Solicitor Guide. 2021 has also seen a 6% increase in new rankings for female lawyers (47.74% female/52.26% male across all rankings), up from 41.68% female/58.32% male last year.

For the UK Bar Guide, there are 26% of women ranked in the 2021 UK Bar Guide, an increase of 2% from the previous year, and a 4% overall increase since 2016, showing slow progress for gender equality at the Bar in the UK. A more promising statistic, of the top 100 new up-and-coming rankings in the 2021 UK Bar Guide, 47% were held by women, a significant increase from 30% in the 2020 guide. 

This was the result of positive action taken by our D&I team and Research teams with clear direction including specific D&I questions, asking firms and sets to provide at least 50% of diverse lawyers for interviews and 50% diverse client references. The results have been positive but we know there remains a long way to go to ensure our rankings are reflective of the diversity of the profession. We will continue to work with our D&I team to make progress and expand the network of firms and sets we consider. 

We look forward to celebrating the success of diverse barristers and sets driving inclusion at the upcoming UK Bar Awards 2020 which has three D&I-specific awards. We are also delighted to be hosting a UK-focused webinar on the progression of Black lawyers in the profession with law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in early December 2020. Chambers recently invited Professor Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers and Alexandra Wilson of 5 St Andrew’s Hill as guest keynote speakers at Chambers and Partners’ recent Black History Month Celebrations for its employees.