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Chambers encouraged to analyse earnings data to understand disparities and ensure equal access to work

Breaking NewsChambers encouraged to analyse earnings data to understand disparities and ensure equal access to work

The Bar Council has launched new data analysis and resources to encourage chambers to identify any earnings disparities within their own sets and understand what is causing the differences.

The Bar Council data analysis at a whole Bar level is based on earnings declared during the authorisation to practise (AtP) process and reveals concerning patterns in relation to disparities between men and women at the self-employed Bar. The new analysis for 2022 shows:

  • In every Call band and every area of self-employed practice, men’s median gross earnings are higher than women’s.
  • The disparity in earnings between men and women is present in the early years of practice with an overall difference of 17% in Call band 0-3 years. The gap is greatest at the 11-15 years Call band, at 30%.
  • Women silks earn on average 71% of their male colleagues’ median gross earnings.
  • Both men and women reach peak median gross earnings at around 25 years’ Call.

This year’s analysis uses a new and more robust method as the AtP data is more detailed than the BMIF data used in previous reports. However, the overall trends remain the same.

It is difficult to draw conclusions from only three years of data, but the median figures for men and women declared through AtP in 2020, 2021 and 2022 suggest the difference between men and women is not narrowing.

An updated toolkit for calculating work distribution has been launched by the Bar Council to support chambers in undertaking their own analysis of earnings.

Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“Everyone at the Bar should be concerned that the disparities between men’s and women’s earnings at the self-employed Bar are so great.

“We also know from our Race at the Bar report that the average Black barrister earns markedly less than the average White barrister and the average Black woman earns less than the average Black man.

“We need to do more work to understand the cause or causes of these striking differences. Some may be accounted for by differences in the number of hours worked per week, but it is a particular concern that these differences seem to emerge at such an early stage in practice. The danger is that the patterns set in the early years of practice become self-perpetuating. Without intervention that trend is likely to continue.

“I encourage chambers to use the new data and toolkit to start collecting, analysing and understanding their own data. Good sets are already doing this, learning about who is thriving and who needs support, to make sure everyone has the same opportunities to advance their career.”

The report also provides analysis by area of practice by collating the total earnings of all barristers who report 80%+ of their gross earnings in a specific area.

Read the full report for further analysis: https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/resource/barrister-earnings-by-sex-and-practice-area-november-2023.html

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