Women in Law

Diversity at the Bar

As an experienced ex-barristers’ clerk it struck me that there was an important omission from the recent list of ‘Snapshot’ recommendations, namely that there should be greater dialogue with the solicitors branch of the profession to promote awareness and to encourage diversity in the procurement of the services of the Bar. They are ultimately in the driving seat when it comes to the allocation of work, certainly more so than the clerks. It would be interesting to explore whether law firms keep any diversity data in relation to the instruction of counsel. I suspect not and my quick exploration of this question on Twitter revealed no awareness of this practice.

I hope the Bar Council takes note and takes the initiative pursuing this important avenue.

Snapshot recommendations are that the Bar needs to:

1. Encourage and facilitate mentoring of junior women by senior women – particularly around building a practice and establishing working relationships with clerks.

2. Facilitate access to business advice/coaching on developing a sustainable practice better able to withstand and support career breaks and more flexible working associated with having a family.

3. Establish more senior and visible female role models.

4. Promote women’s marketing networks for barristers, and specifically focused on developing relationships with professional clients.

5. Create support networks (i) of working parents at the Bar as a source of advice/guidance around return to work, childcare, flexible working etc.; (ii) of women at the Bar for other women in the profession.

6. Extend the Bar Nursery to the Circuits

7. Encourage a better gender balance on key decision-making committees within chambers.

By dana denis-smith

Dana Denis-Smith is an entrepreneur, former Linklaters solicitor and international journalist who lives in London, UK. In 2010, she founded Obelisk Legal Support Solutions (Obelisk Support--, a London-based alternative legal services company built around flexible, highly-skilled professionals. Aware that the legal profession is far behind its times in terms of gender diversity, she initiated the First 100 Years project ( to celebrate the journey of women in the legal profession in the United Kingdom over the past 100 years and this project will celebrate the centenary of women in law in 2019.

In 2018, Obelisk's founder Dana Denis-Smith was voted Legal Personality of the Year at the LexisNexis Awards 2018 and Obelisk Support joined the top tier of two prestigious lists, the FT1000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies and Inc. 5000 List of Europe's Fastest-Growing Companies. In 2017, Dana also won the WEConnect International Best Mentor and Role Model Award and delivered a TEDx talk on how to be remembered (based on her observations of the legal profession). In 2016, she was voted one of Britain’s five most inspiring mothers for juggling up a new business creation with family life, as she chooses to work flexibly in order to spend quality time with her young daughter.