Diversity & Inclusion
Keating Chambers is committed to (1) promoting and advancing equality and diversity in all its dealings, in particular in the provision of its services to its clients, the recruitment and retention of all Members, pupils and staff and fair access to work; and (2) providing a work environment in which all individuals, clients and the public are treated with dignity and respect. At the 2021 Chambers & Partners Awards, Keating Chambers were nominated for the Outstanding Set for Diversity & Inclusion award. Our anti-racist statement can be found on our About Us page.
OUR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY
Chambers’ Equality Action Plan includes (1) the regular review and updating of its policies (in particular, its Equal Opportunities Policy Booklet); (2) the requirement and provision of training in fair recruitment and equality and diversity issues; (3) bi-annual monitoring of all recruitment by sex, ethnicity and disability (4) the undertaking of an annual earnings review and (5) an annual access audit to review making chambers accessible for disabled persons.
Our Equal Opportunities Policy is extensive and includes sections on fair recruitment, parental leave, fair access to work, flexible/part-time working and anti-harassment. It also provides provision for equality monitoring to ensure all these policies are being adhered to. Further information on some of our key policies can be found below.
All our selection procedures (for Pupils, starter tenants, established practitioners and staff) are operated without regard to irrelevant considerations such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, or age. We welcome candidates for pupillage and mini-pupillage from all backgrounds and all sectors of the community with the ability and determination to succeed as a barrister. Every member of all selection panels must have received recent and appropriate training in fair recruitment and selection processes.
We have a generous policy in place to encourage and support those returning to practice after taking a period of parental leave. The policy applies to all members of Chambers, enabling them to take a period of up to 12 months leave of absence for the purposes of parental leave (including shared parental leave) following the birth or adoption of a child. It is in place to ensure they can care for their child without suffering financial hardship and to give additional encouragement and support to members who are the main or primary carer of a child.
Financial provisions for members of Chambers within the policy entitle members to relief from room rent and service charge throughout the parental leave period and for a period following return to practice. Additional provisions are in place to (1) prevent discrimination on the grounds of parental responsibility, (2) accommodate time-off for fertility treatment, ante-natal care and related medical or other appointments, and (3) assist the member with re-establishing their practice on return to Chambers.
The policy also covers provision for prospective and current pupils in respect of deferring pupillage and/or flexible hours around childcare commitments.
Flexible and Part-time Working and Career Breaks
Chambers’ objective is to aid long-term retention of its Members. As such, flexibility and the need to shape working practice around individual needs are at the essence of our flexible working policy. Generally, members are free to make such working arrangements as suit them and their practice, and facilities are in place to enable and support remote working.
Chambers recognises that there are an indefinite range of reasons giving rise to the need or wish of a Member to put in place individual arrangements. These reasons include, without limitation, the need to cater for serious chronic illness or disability, the need to work part-time due to child-care responsibilities, or the wish to take a sabbatical for personal development reasons. Assistance from Chambers will be decided on a case-by-case basis but may include a waiver or reduction of the member’s liability for rent and rates and/or Chambers’ expenses.
Keating uses a system called the RARE Contextual Recruitment System. This is a way of identifying candidates who have over-achieved in the light of their wider personal circumstances, or whose achievements should be seen in the light of specific challenges they have faced. The system is used for our pupillages, mini-pupillages and senior staff recruitment.
We launched the use of this system in 2019. Our former Head of Chambers, John Marrin KC, and Krista Lee KC wrote a joint article for the Winter 2019/2020 KC Legal Update celebrating its launch. You can find this here. Further information on how we use the RARE system can be found on our application form guidance page.
DISABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY
It is important to us that barristers, staff, pupils, clients and other visitors with disabilities feel welcome at Keating Chambers.
Our building is accessible to people using wheelchairs (save for the sixth floor balconies, which currently have a couple of steps). We have a step-free accessible entrance from the street, internal lifts to all floors, and a wheelchair-accessible toilet on one of our conference floors.
We are happy to consider any requests for reasonable adjustments to assist disabled applicants or clients. If you are invited to interview, you will be asked whether you require any reasonable adjustments and we will discuss how best to accommodate your needs. Available adjustments include, but are not limited to, allowing guide dogs for people with impaired vision, accommodating interview times for those with impaired mobility who may need to travel into Chambers at off peak times, and allowing extra preparation time for dyslexic candidates.
SOCIAL MOBILITY SCHOLARSHIP IN CONJUNCTION WITH GRAY’S INN
In September 2022 we announced the launch of a new social mobility scholarship in partnership with Gray’s Inn, to be awarded through the Gray’s Inn Scholarship Programme The scholarship, funded by Keating Chambers, is designed to support Bar Course students from backgrounds under-represented at the Bar. In awarding £15,000 to the winning candidate, the Keating Chambers Scholarship will support a Bar Student from a background under-represented at the Bar, who may not have otherwise been able to embark on this journey. We will also offer the successful applicant an unassessed mini-pupillage at Keating Chambers and mentoring. The mini-pupillage will be a 1-day in person placement which aims to provide a varied and stimulating introduction to life in Chambers.
MENTORING FOR UNDER-REPRESENTED GROUPS AT THE BAR
We are working with 19 other sets on a mentoring scheme for underrepresented groups at the Bar run by COMBAR. The purpose of the scheme is to support and encourage individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the commercial bar) to pursue careers as barristers. Those underrepresented groups include women; people from minority ethnic backgrounds; people with disabilities; LGBTQ+ people; people who spent time in care; and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The scheme will run between November 2022 and May 2023.
WOMEN AT THE COMMERCIAL BAR ANNUAL EVENT
Since December 2017 we have been running an annual “Women at the Commercial Bar” student event in Chambers. This is an informal event which features short talks from female barristers of various levels of seniority at Keating Chambers, a keynote speech from a female judge, and the chance to network with male and female barristers from Keating. The presentations have covered the types of cases you are involved in at Keating, the work/life balance for a woman at the commercial Bar, and mentoring and support within Chambers. The event has been free to attend and open to students of all genders at any stage of legal study who are interested in a career at the Commercial Bar.
Last year, we were pleased to offer the same event virtually via Zoom. The format remained the same although this year we were delighted to have three distinguished female judges joining us: Lady Justice Carr DBE (Court of Appeal), Mrs Justice O’Farrell DBE (Judge in Charge of the Technology and Construction Court) and Mrs Justice Jefford DBE. The event was a great success with around 100 students attending and we were able to offer the same opportunity for informal conversation after the talks by way of smaller break out rooms with around 20 barristers.
BRIDGING THE BAR
We are proud to be Founder Members of Bridging the Bar (BTB); an organisation dedicated to increasing diversity at the Bar by achieving three objectives (1) access to equal opportunity, (2) mentorship and (3) transparency. We are involved with BTB through two routes. The first is by taking part in their structured mini-pupillage programme in which students from all corners of our society can gain exposure and insight into life at the Bar, and what career options are possible for them. The second is by providing mentorship to a diverse pool of students to make the Bar a more accessible and better understood profession for those from underrepresented groups.
10,000 BLACK INTERNS PROGRAMME
We were one of the first five sets of chambers to sign up to the 10,000 Black Interns programme, an initiative to transform the horizons and prospects of young Black people in the United Kingdom by offering paid work experience across a wide range of industries. The aim is to provide training and development opportunities and to create a sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship for the Black community. As of December 2021, there are 74 organisations participating in the Bar’s programme during its first year. This will allow each successful intern to be allocated to a group of up to five sets of Chambers/Bar organisations, providing them with exposure to a broad and varied experience of work at the Bar during their six-week internship.
TECBAR BAME NETWORK
We recognise the importance of the TECBAR BAME Network and its efforts to enhance inclusion, participation and progression at the Technology and Construction Bar. We have supported this by hosting CV workshops in Chambers to provide support and encouragement to ethnic minorities considering a career at the Bar, and two Keating barristers were involved in authoring The Specialist Commercial Bar & Black Inclusion – First Steps Report, Commissioned by The Commercial Bar Association, The Chancery Bar Association and The Technology and Construction Bar Association.
FIRST SIX TO SILK: FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF BLACK WOMEN
In March 2020 Krista Lee KC was one of six women of African or African Caribbean heritage to take silk. In celebration of this unprecedented achievement, the Black Barristers’ Network invited Krista, Barbara Mills KC, Allison Munroe KC, Katharine Newton KC, Ijeoma Omambala KC and Melanie Simpson KC to join a webinar to discuss their experiences and triumphs, as well as career advice they would offer having successfully made Silk. The recording from this inspiring session can be accessed below.
EQUAL REPRESENTATION IN ARBITRATION PLEDGE
Keating has been a corporate signatory of The Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge (the “ERA Pledge”) since its launch in May 2016. In addition, a number of barristers and staff have signed the pledge in an individual capacity since the launch.
The ERA Pledge has two objectives. First, it aims to improve the profile and representation of women in international arbitration. Second, it seeks the appointment of women as arbitrators on an equal opportunity basis. The pledge recognises that, while there are many well-qualified women arbitrator candidates, they often lack visibility, with arbitrators frequently appointed from a relatively small pool of mostly male arbitrators. This lack of diversity raises questions as to the legitimacy of the arbitral process, unconscious bias and conflicts of interest, as well as procedural inefficiencies, including delays in the rendering of arbitral awards due to the limited availability of arbitrators. Further information can be found here.
KEATING CHAMBERS & LAMB BUILDINGS SUMMER SCHOOL
In Summer 2022 Keating co-hosted a Summer School with Lamb Buildings. The collaboration with Lamb Building (a common law set with family and criminal law specialisms) enabled Keating to reach a wide range of students who might not have otherwise considered coming to the Commercial Bar. The school was open to LLB, GDL and Bar Course students, as well as those who have completed the Bar Course, who have an interest in Commercial, Criminal, or Civil Law. The event was run virtually to ensure maximum accessibility and involved tenants and pupils from both sets. As well as learning what it is like to practice in these areas, sessions covered pupillage applications, interview skills, advocacy and life as a pupil.
MENTORING AND OUTREACH
Members of Chambers are involved in numerous different mentoring and outreach programmes, which include the below:
- Participating in an Insight Day scheme with the aim of drawing back the curtain on the Commercial Bar and giving an up-close understanding of a career that many state school students might not otherwise have contemplated.
- Members of the TecBar and Combar committees focusing on improving race diversity at the Commercial Bar.
- Supporting Inner Temple’s PASS programme. This involves giving state school students who may not otherwise have considered a career at the bar the opportunity to spend a few days in chambers with a barrister, in an informal mini-pupillage context, to ask as many questions as possible and to come to understand possible routes into the profession.
- Supporting the Black Students Law Society at Queen Mary.
- Mentoring through Middle Temple’s Sponsorship Scheme, which aims to provide student members with a ‘sponsor’ – a practising barrister – who will act as a mentor and contact at the Bar.
- Advocacy training of junior barristers via the Inns’ programmes.
- Mentoring through Bridging the Bar.
- Mentees through the Bar Council’s Race Equality Taskforce’s Reverse Mentoring Scheme, which involves a senior white barrister being mentored by a Bar student, pupil or junior barrister from a minority ethnic group.
- Mentoring through the Bar Council’s E-Mentoring scheme, designed for Year 12, 13 and first-year undergraduate students to gain practical guidance and advice about a career as a barrister. The Scheme is intended to support students from non-traditional backgrounds, who are interested in pursuing a career at the Bar and who are attending a state school in England or Wales.
- Mentoring through Inner Temple’s Mentoring Scheme, which aims to pair BPC students with barristers who can give advice and guidance.
- Supporting BME Legal by providing speakers and/or venues for their events. BME Legal is a not-for-profit group (founded by Adeola Fadipe) committed to helping under-represented groups gain access to support and opportunities that will enable them to obtain pupillage at the Bar of England and Wales.
- Support for Big Voice London, a legal outreach project that helps young people explore the UK legal system, particularly the role of the Supreme Court, and their own legal identity.
- Participation in the Bar Council’s CV clinics.
- Participation in all four Inns’ various pupillage application advice sessions, CV workshops, sitting on scholarship interview panels, etc.
- Informal mentoring of and support for students from sixth form through to the Bar Course, with a particular focus on students from under-represented backgrounds.