Mentoring for Underrepresented Groups

3VB is delighted to participate again in COMBAR’s annual mentoring scheme for applicants from groups who are under-represented at the Bar. The scheme, a continuation and expansion of a prior scheme founded by 3VB and five other Commercial sets in 2020, is an important part of 3VB’s commitment to improving access and diversity in the legal profession, and has already helped hundreds of students.

The purpose of the scheme is to support and encourage individuals from groups which are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the commercial bar) to pursue careers as barristers. Those underrepresented groups include women; people from minority ethnic backgrounds; people with disabilities; LGBT+ people; people who spent time in care; and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

In the scheme’s first year, over 400 applications were received, and 150 mentees were matched with mentors. The scheme runs between October and May It is open to all undergraduates and graduates from groups that are underrepresented at the Bar of England and Wales (and in particular the commercial bar) and who do not yet have a pupillage offer.

  • Successful applicants to join the scheme will be allocated a mentor, who will be a member of one of the participating sets of chambers. As part of the scheme, mentees will be offered:
  • Between three and five one-on-one meetings with their mentor.
  • A workshop on applications for pupillage.
  • Subject to developments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, one or more social events for mentors, mentees and members of the participating sets of chambers.

The scheme pairs successful eligible candidates with practitioners for a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions. COMBAR also hopes to organise a pupillage interview and application workshop and a social event, to which all mentors and mentees will be invited, in early 2023.

In order to ensure that as diverse a pool of potential applicants is reached as possible, COMBAR will advertise the scheme through the careers departments of all English and Welsh universities with a law department, together with a number of universities in Scotland and Ireland, third sector organisations such as the Social Mobility Foundation and Sutton Trust, and commercial publications such as Legal Cheek.

Applicants will be assessed by reference to their need for mentoring and their potential to pursue a career at the Bar. A deliberate decision has been taken to give equal weighting to both of these criteria to help ensure that the scheme reaches talented applicants from the most under-represented groups who would benefit most from mentoring and guidance.

Applicants wishing to participate in the scheme are requested to complete the online application form which can be found here. Application forms must be received by 4pm on Friday 16 September 2022.  It is hoped that applicants will be informed whether or not they have been accepted onto the scheme during October 2022.

Full details of the scheme can be found in the Scheme Guidelines which can be found here. Any other questions should be directed to socialmobility@combar.com.

Ewan McQuater QC and Adrian Beltrami QC, joint Heads of 3VB, said “3VB is a strong supporter of this excellent and thoughtful scheme which gives real one-to-one help to those from under-represented backgrounds and groups who might otherwise be put off, or not sufficiently put on to, the opportunities at the Bar. We look forward to mentoring another cohort of excellent students this year.”