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Bar Council announces new contextual recruitment tool to boost social mobility at the Bar

Breaking NewsBar Council announces new contextual recruitment tool to boost social mobility at the Bar

The Bar Council is boosting its commitment to social mobility at the Bar with the introduction of a contextual recruitment tool to the Pupillage Gateway system from 2024/25. The announcement was made in a speech on the future of the Bar by Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar of England and Wales, last night (Wednesday 13 September).

Contextual recruitment tools look at the context in which students receive their grades, so that recruiters can identify candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds who outperformed their immediate peers and who can demonstrate the qualities needed to succeed at the Bar, but who might otherwise be missed in a recruitment process.

About 35% of the current intake to the practising Bar is privately educated compared to 18% of the A-level cohort and only 8% of all secondary school pupils. Private school students tend to get better grades and so it is important that the profession tries to spot those who have great potential but who may not have had the same opportunities to demonstrate that by getting the very highest grades.

Following a tender process, the Bar Council is partnering with Rare to integrate the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) into the Pupillage Gateway applicant tracking system, delivered by Tribepad, for the pupillage recruitment round in 2024/25.

Rare’s CRS provides measures of social disadvantage and academic outperformance to help recruiters understand candidates’ achievements in the context in which they were gained. The system was designed in close collaboration with world-class universities and graduate employers and the data is never used to screen people out, only to provide further context to current selection decisions. The system is used by over 150 organisations, including 26 chambers. The first Bar client introduced the system in November 2018.

Speaking at the Inner Temple Hall last night, Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar, announced the new partnership. He said:

“I said in my inaugural address in January that I was keen to explore whether we could support and build on the excellent outreach work of the Inns, and some chambers and specialist Bar associations, and organisations like Bridging the Bar, by making available contextual recruitment tools as part of the Pupillage Gateway process.

“Contextual recruitment tools help to identify candidates who have outperformed their immediate peer group, or who have had to overcome particular types of adversity. Such tools can help chambers ensure that they are not missing candidates with great potential who, because of their background might not yet have achieved quite so highly as contemporaries from a more advantaged background.

“I am delighted to be able to say that the Bar Council and Tribepad, who provide the applicant tracking system on which the Pupillage Gateway runs, are going to be working with Rare Recruitment to integrate Rare’s extremely impressive and carefully developed contextual recruitment tools… I really hope there will be a very broad use of contextual recruitment tools.”

Raphael Mokades, Managing Director of Rare, said:

“We are really pleased to have been selected in an open tender by the Bar Council – the validation is really gratifying! We have over the last few years already seen our contextual data having an impact on the couple of dozen sets who’ve adopted it individually – now we’re looking forward to it being made available to everyone that uses the Gateway. We are also looking forward to developing a close working with relationship with the Bar Council itself on contextual data and, perhaps, in other areas as well going forward.”

Dean Sadler, CEO of Tribepad, added:

 “We are delighted to be expanding our relationship with the Bar Council and working with Rare to integrate their Contextual Recruitment System into the Pupillage Gateway. It’s our mission to help make recruitment fairer, faster and better for everyone and we are proud to support the Bar Council as they continue to build a diverse and inclusive workforce with this commitment to improving social mobility.”

The applicant tracking system of the Pupillage Gateway is currently used by 54% of actively recruiting Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs). The CRS will be made available to all AETOs who use the Pupillage Gateway to run their application processes and will be incorporated into the overall cost of delivering the Pupillage Gateway through a small additional cost of around £250 plus VAT per AETO per year. This compares to a cost of around £7,000 plus VAT per year for an individual AETO to use Rare’s CRS outside of the Gateway. The Bar Council is funding the integration of the CRS into the Pupillage Gateway and individual AETOs can choose whether or not to use the contextual recruitment tools.

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