Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Equality & diversity

We have a comprehensive Equality Diversity Handbook, which sets out the policies we have adopted for ensuring compliance with our legal and regulatory obligations and the Attorney General’s Equality and Diversity Expectations Statement.

We also have an Equality and Diversity Strategy, which sets out our goals in respect of equality and diversity and how we aim to achieve them, and a rolling annual Action Plan, which sets out time-tabled steps towards meeting those goals.

We have formed an Equality and Diversity Committee comprising members at all levels of seniority, an experienced clerk and our Head of Administration, which is responsible for promoting equality, diversity and wellbeing within chambers as regards both members and employees.

Further, our Equality and Diversity Officers, Stuart Ritchie QC and Tamara Oppenheimer QC, monitor and report on our progress in relation to equality and diversity.

Our diversity data, which we are required to publish in accordance with the requirements of the Bar Standards Board, can be found below.

Parental leave, flexible working and wellbeing

At Fountain Court, we promote healthy work-life balance and an inclusive, family-friendly atmosphere. That commitment is reflected in a generous parental leave and flexible working policy – for further details, see our Equality Diversity Handbook. We understand the challenges of balancing work and family life and seek to support our members and staff in achieving that balance. Members of Fountain Court successfully combine practice with other commitments, including caring responsibilities and public service. We are particularly proud to have been one of the first commercial sets of chambers to draw up and adopt a properly comprehensive parental leave policy which has since been shared with other sets of chambers looking to develop their own rules.  We also subscribe to “My Family Care” to ensure that those members with familial and other caring responsibilities have additional support in times of need.

More generally, we place a high value on the wellbeing of all members, pupils and staff. All have access to comprehensive health insurance, including support for mental health enhanced by the availability of counselling through our external Employee Assistance Programme.

Chambers also has a mentoring scheme to provide support for junior members in their early years of practice, and is introducing  a more extensive mentoring scheme within Chambers more widely. Sometimes, the role of a barrister can be extremely demanding. At the heart of our approach to wellbeing is the objective that all members, though self-employed, should feel supported by chambers – by its clerks and other employees, fellow members and through a broad culture of mutual support. Regular social gatherings and centrally organised chambers activities such as Pilates and art classes for members, pupils and staff contribute to a happier and healthier workforce.

Diversity Data

Summary

Rule rC110.3.q-t of the Code of Conduct contained in the BSB Handbook requires chambers to publish a summary of its diversity data monitoring exercise, carried out every three years.

Questionnaires were sent to all barristers, pupils and staff (clerking and administration) with data collected up to 29 November 2020. The voluntary responses were collated, analysed and anonymised for reporting in December 2020.

Our overall response rate was 90%:

82.5% of Queen’s Counsel, 75% of junior barristers (including pupils), and 89% of staff (including clerks and administrative staff) provided data, with an overall total of 88% consenting to its publication.

The Code of Conduct prohibits the publication of data on sexual orientation and religious belief unless consent is received from each member of the workforce.  We did not receive 100% consent and therefore no data is published in this report on those characteristics.  However, we can confirm we have a diversity of both sexual orientation and religious beliefs within Chambers.

Where fewer than 10 individuals within a published category (or sub-category) identify through the questionnaire with the same diversity characteristic, in accordance with the Code of Conduct, the anonymised data will not be published, unless all affected individuals’ consent.  Where this has occurred, we have either not published the data, or data for certain categories has been amalgamated. Pupils’ data (despite their consent in a group of less than 10), is amalgamated within the Junior barristers’ group.

Key points:

  • We can report a positive improvement in our gender diversity, with an increase in females across all Chambers’ roles. Females now represent 21% of QCs, an increase of 6% from 2017. This number also exceeds the Bar average of 16.2% for female QCs, as noted in the BSB’s 2019 Equality at the Bar report. Females now represent 25% of Junior barristers/Pupils, an increase of 2% from 2017. Our number of female staff overall (including clerks) has also increased from 36% to 42%.
  • 5% of Chambers’ workforce identified as disabled, an increase of 2% from 2017.
  • 34% of QCs and 37.5% of junior barristers/pupils attended UK State schools.
  • 30% of QCs, 21% of junior barristers/Pupils and 13% of staff were First Generation University Graduates.
  • We continue our efforts with involvement in a number of initiatives to broaden the Bar’s and Chambers’ diversity through higher representation from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic backgrounds. In addition to the work we are undertaking individually and with other commercial/magic circle Chambers, adoption of the BSB’s anti-racism statement will form part of our Action Plan for 2021.

GENDER

  Male Female Prefer not to say
Queen’s Counsel 79% 21%
Junior barristers and pupils 73% 25% 2%
Staff (clerks and administration) 58% 42%
Clerks 62% 38%

EDUCATION

  UK State School UK Independent / Fee Paying School Non-UK School Prefer not to say
Queen’s Counsel 34% 64% 2%
Junior barristers and pupils 37.5% 37.5% 23% 2%

FIRST GENERATION UNIVERSITY

Graduate, not first generation Graduate, first generation Did not attend University Prefer not to say
Queen’s Counsel 64% 30% 3% 3%
Junior barristers and pupils 75% 21% 4%
Staff (clerks and administration) 20% 13% 63% 4%

ETHNIC GROUP

  Asian/Asian British – Chinese Asian/Asian British – Indian Mixed/multiple ethnicity – White and Black African Mixed/multiple ethnicity – White and Chinese Black African / Caribbean/ Black British – African Mixed/multiple ethnicity – Other White – British/English / Welsh / Northern Irish / Scottish / White – Irish / White – Other Prefer not to say
Queen’s Counsel 6% 3% 91%
Junior barristers and pupils 2% 2% 2% 5% 87% 2%
Staff (clerks and administration) 4% 96%

PRIMARY CARER

Yes No Prefer not to say
Queen’s Counsel 24% 76%
Junior barristers and pupils 23% 75% 2%
Staff (clerks and administration) 17% 83%