NSC celebrates IWD 2023
Chambers celebrates the achievements of women around the world today, as we commemorate International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March.
We reflect on what has been a truly momentous year for New Square Chambers, with Michelle Greene completing her first year as New Chambers’ first female Senior Clerk (and the first minority ethnic female Senior Clerk at the Chancery Bar); as well as Chambers’ recognition for its diversity and inclusion initiatives, as finalists at the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards (Inclusive Employment) in 2022, LexisNexis Legal Awards (Diversity & Inclusion) in 2023 and Jessica Powers’ shortlist in the ‘Rising Star in Diversity Change’ category at the Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards 2023.
Research and reports over the last few years have demonstrated that women, people of colour and socially mobile individuals are underrepresented at the Commercial Chancery Bar, and that there remains a significant gender pay gap. Statistics produced by our industry bodies (the Bar Standards Board and the Bar Council) demonstrate this starkly: only 38.8% of barristers are female and women at the Chancery Bar earn 39% less than their male colleagues.
In recent years, as part of our diversity and inclusion initiatives, we conduct an annual gender and race pay gap review internally and our parental leave policy has undergone a complete overhaul to provide generous financial and additional support to anyone who requires leave as a result of parental responsibilities or long-term ill health. A particular hallmark of the new policy is requiring clerks to encourage solicitors to return cases to those returning to work from a period of leave. New Square Chambers have a genuine and evidenced commitment to addressing diversity and inclusion issues.
Through our initiatives we have encouraged, and hope to continue to encourage, a diverse pool of applicants to apply to join us. We are also proud to note that with two appointments in 2022, New Square Chambers has an equal number of male and female staff members supporting the set; as we are proud of all our female barristers, Ross Crail, Amy Berry, Sarah Egan, Hermione Williams, Jessica Powers, Laura Webster, Millie Rai and pupil barrister, Bertilla Chow.
Today, we honour all women across all industries around the world, and in particular across the Bar.
“#EmbraceEquity is something that the Chancery Bar and New Square Chambers is striving towards, but we are not there yet.
Complete fairness and justice without discrimination and bias, without assumptions and presumptions, can come. Embrace unity. Muster internal strength. Overcome the hurdles. Stand for change. Equity will follow for my four children whom I embrace, as I work part time and am dyslexic, despite arbitrary timelines imposed by those (usually white and male without any disabilities) who assume I should be working 24/7!”
“It is a pleasure to be a female Member of the Chancery Bar, which has traditionally remained the preserve of male barristers and to find that increasingly more women are practising in Chancery law and that we support each other in developing our potential. International Womens’ Day presents the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, who have had the strength and courage to follow their dreams and aspirations against the odds and whose perseverance and determination has been rewarded.”
“I have found the commercial and chancery bar to be a wonderful place to practice law, with the work providing intellectual challenges daily. Two years ago I became a tenant at New Square Chambers, and I could not feel more supported by the members and staff as I embark upon my career.
For me IWD is important as it provides a moment to step back and to appreciate the situation of women around the world, and to reflect on the changes that have occurred in the UK to make entry into my chosen profession possible.”
“Notwithstanding the admittedly bleak fact that the Commercial Chancery Bar remains male-dominated, for me, the reality of practice as a female barrister at New Square Chambers is overwhelmingly positive. Having supportive colleagues and challenging, varied work are among the things that have made the start of my career so enjoyable. It is particularly heartening to see an increasing number of women coming up the baby barrister ranks in chambers and a female senior clerk at chambers’ helm. Whilst there is much work yet to be done, International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements at the Bar and the strides made towards equality.”
“My journey towards the Chancery Bar as someone who is both ‘visibly’ and ‘invisibly’ diverse was greatly assisted by female mentors, who have been incredibly generous with their time and encouragement. I find New Square Chambers to be an especially inclusive, diversity-conscious and progressive part of the Chancery Bar, and so joining chambers as a Pupil I feel honoured to be part of the change.”