Diversity and Inclusion
We are a friendly and welcoming set. We want to ensure that we attract the best candidates, offer the best candidates a pupillage and retain them as tenants. We want our chambers to reflect the diversity of the people we serve and seek to serve. The best barristers do not all come from the same mould. They may be of any ethnicity, from any culture or race, of any gender or none, have any social background and possess a multitude of other, diverse, characteristics.
We recognise that when candidates look at our website, they may not – on first glance – see themselves there. However, our members come from a wide range of backgrounds: some of our stories are to be found in our mini-biographies below.
Please do read on for some further information as to our involvement with various organisations and schemes which are seeking to improve access to the Bar for all.
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.
This year, we are pleased to be offering 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.
First Six to Silk: From the Perspective of Black Women
In March 2020 Krista Lee QC 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 QC, Allison Munroe QC, Katharine Newton QC, Ijeoma Omambala QC and Melanie Simpson QC 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.
Bridging the Bar
We are proud to be Founder Members of Bridging the Bar. This organisation aims to increase diversity at the Bar by ensuring equal access to opportunity (through a structured mini-pupillage programme), through mentorship and through transparency.
Mentoring and Outreach
Members of Chambers are involved in numerous different mentoring and outreach programmes, which include the below:
- 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 BPTC students with barristers who can give advice and guidance.
- 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.
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.
We launched the use of this system in 2019. Our former Head of Chambers, John Marrin QC, and Krista Lee QC 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.
Alexander Nissen QC, Head of Chambers
For me, Oxbridge was never on the cards as I wasn’t going to get the grades. I had always had it in mind to try to become a barrister and so it never entered my thinking that not going to Oxbridge might stop me doing that. So, instead, I went to Manchester Uni, a great city and a fantastic place to study law in the early 80s. Little did I know that my contract and family law tutor would later become Dame Brenda Hale, with another of our lecturers, Andrew Burrows, also now sitting as a Judge of the Supreme Court. Read more
I passed my eleven plus but didn’t want to go to the local girls’ High School as I couldn’t see how single-sex education could prepare me for a world in which men and women needed to be comfortable together and understand each other. So I went to the co-ed Technical High School and took needlework, cookery and jewellery-making lessons alongside the traditional academic subjects. I asked to take Latin but there was no provision for the only pupil who was interested in it. Read more
I first decided I wanted to become a barrister after binge-watching DVDs of John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey aged 15 (note: I recommend doing more research than this). There was, however, a problem – or, at least, what I thought was a problem at the time. The problem was that I would not fit in. I am not from an affluent background (cf. everyone in Rumpole); I was socially awkward; I was going to a local state school; and there were certainly no lawyers in my family. When I told the school careers advisor about my plan, she first assumed that I was joking and then told me – firmly – that I needed to be more realistic. Read more
In one sense I had an entirely conventional route to the Commercial Bar. I went to private school and Oxbridge. The difference is that I did this while Black and over 20 years ago. My education helped as did the fact that my mother was a barrister and my father was judge both practising in Nigeria. They had been called to the English Bar and I had many close relatives who were also barristers. Read more
My mother was an Irish immigrant who came to this country to train as a nurse at the same time as the people who came on the Windrush and experienced the “no blacks no dogs no Irish” signs on the boarding house doors. When I was young (and for a long time after) it was not very comfortable to be the child of an Irish immigrant and I grew up feeling like an outsider. Read more
I consider myself very fortunate to be embarking upon a career at the Bar as it is a world that could have very easily passed me by. Growing up, I didn’t know that such a job existed. I went to a comprehensive school and there were no lawyers in my family. As an undergraduate, I studied philosophy at the University of Manchester and on the odd occasion when friends and I would discuss the dreaded subject of getting a job, the Bar was not on any of our horizons. Read more
When I was growing up I was going to write a Great Novel (or it could’ve been a Great Poem) which would cause World Peace to break out, or possibly I was going to become a campaigning journalist who would cause World Peace to break out, or possibly I was going to travel the world and come back and write a Great Travel Book which would also… Anyway, these were not recognised ambitions. I went to a fairly rough state comprehensive and the careers advice consisted of a list of leaflets you could send off for on various jobs (this was before the internet). I sent off for the one for Vending Machine Attendant, just to give my parents a conniption fit. I’ve no idea whether barrister was even on the list. At any rate, my parents were teachers, I didn’t know any lawyers at all, and none of my friends’ parents were lawyers either. Read more