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International Women’s Day

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It also provides a platform to help forge positive change for women and promote equality. For 2021, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge as from challenge, comes change.

At Maitland Chambers we celebrate this day and #ChooseToChallenge (not just today but throughout the year) the culture and perception around equality and life at the Commercial Chancery Bar for women, right from the beginning. We recognise that it can be extremely difficult for aspiring female barristers to find out first-hand what life is like at the Chancery Commercial Bar, especially in a pandemic.

In light of this, Rosanna Foskett adapted our popular ‘Women at the Commercial Chancery Bar Event’, in to an interactive virtual event in January of this year to continue to allow aspiring barristers, of all genders, to gain a first-hand experience of what life is like for women at the Bar and to inspire and encourage the future generations of our profession.

With over 50 attendees, Catherine Addy QC opened the event with a welcome from Maitland Chambers and explained what life is like for her at the Commercial Chancery Bar and her career journey from pupil barrister through to Queen’s Counsel. The attendees were then given an introduction to witness handling, before being split in to breakout rooms for a cross examination workshop hosted by various Members of Chambers. One attendee had this to say about the event:

"Before the event, I posed quite serious questions about the culture of Commercial Chancery. I was delighted by the honest and very personal reflections by Catherine Addy QC. It dispelled much of the poor perception that I had gained through reading articles and I particularly noted the progress made with increasing numbers of women becoming silks. It was also reassuring to hear that a career at the Bar did not pose any more difficulties for parents than any other professional career. This has assured me that it is possible to pursue a career at the Commercial Chancery Bar."

Our efforts to encourage women to consider a career at the Commercial Chancery Bar is part of our wider commitment to improve access to the profession, and over the last year we have continued to hold virtual mini-pupillages to allow as many students as possible to gain an insight in to life at Maitland Chambers. As well as this, led by Narinder Jhittay, we launched our Mentoring Scheme for aspiring Commercial/Chancery barristers from ethnic minority backgrounds with over half of the participants being women.

We recognise there is still a lot of work to do to improve access, equality and diversity at the Bar, but we are committed to doing all we can to help change this and we will continue to #ChooseToChallenge.