ELA’s employment law Counsel Instructions Monitoring Scheme

Gender Diversity at the Bar? Monitoring your firm’s instructions of Counsel…..please help

Please join ELA’s employment law Counsel Instructions Monitoring Scheme to help ELA to promote equitable briefing of counsel

Last year, ELA’s Management Committee ran a pilot scheme amongst ManCo firms to monitor their employment teams’ instructions of counsel by reference to gender.  The data set was small, but tended to suggest that the gender of the instructing solicitor may have played a part in the decision-making process when briefing counsel:  in other words, it appeared that a female barrister was more likely to be instructed in a case where the instructing solicitor was female.  This conclusion is very tentative.

ELA is now extending the monitoring scheme to all firms represented in our membership. We invite each of you to encourage your firm to join ELA’s monitoring scheme and monitor your firm’s instructions of employment law counsel for at least 3 months by reference to gender (of both the instructing solicitor and the barrister).  The data will be collected anonymously by our easy-to-use form.

To join the ELA Counsel Instructions Monitoring Scheme, please EMAIL US.  The scheme is easy to administer with the use of ELA’s monitoring form.

The scheme has the full support of ELA’s ManCo and firms represented on ManCo will be participating again.

The results will be sent back to our Monitoring Scheme Working Group which will collate all the data (anonymously), analyse it for trends and report back to the membership in time for the AGM on 21 May 2020.

You may be interested to read some of the articles published last year on gender diversity at the Bar:

The Lawyer published an article analysing appearances in the higher courts by male and female employment law barristers, concluding (as per this headline) that:  “…gendered instructions at the Bar are scuppering female barristers’ ambitions for silk”; (3 July 2019)

Herbert Smith’s Head of Dispute Resolution Damian Byrne Hill, told The Lawyer that: “A significant portion of the responsibility for providing opportunities for female barristers to succeed, though, of course falls to solicitors” (10 July 2019)

Karen Seward (A&O’s Global Head of Litigation) told The Lawyer (in its article on 11 July 2019) that, “Clerks must suggest diverse teams of barristers to our clients”

Please help ELA to promote equitable briefing of counsel and volunteer for the Counsel Instructions Monitoring Scheme today.


Marian Bloodworth, ELA Deputy Chair
Claire McCann, Member at Large
ELA Management Committee