21 September 2019

Cardiff University seeks participants for focus groups

The BSB has a statutory objective to promote an independent, strong, diverse and effective profession. Promoting equality and diversity at the Bar is therefore a key aim of the BSB.

The following independent study was not commissioned by the BSB but we are assisting Cardiff University because we believe that it will contribute to our understanding of the experiences of those at the Bar who identify themselves as disabled.

With funding from the Big Lottery Programme Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning (DRILL), Cardiff University is conducting independent research into the experiences of barristers and clerks who define themselves as disabled, or who have a long-term health condition.  Researchers want to document the barriers this group experience in the profession, identify examples of good practice and discuss how the profession could be more inclusive.

Researchers, Professor Debbie Foster and Dr Natasha Hirst (both of whom identify as disabled), are holding two focus groups on 2 February between 4.30pm-6.00pm and 19 February between 4.30pm-6.00pm, at the BSB office: 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ. Light refreshments will be served.

The focus groups are only open to disabled legal professionals (this includes physical and sensory impairments, health conditions, mental health conditions and learning disabilities). We encourage those who have sought a career at the Bar (but have been unable to complete their training), those who may have since left the profession, and people with more than one protected characteristic, to also participate. Data collected at the focus groups will be anonymized and will help to determine the further scope of the research.

The project is both academic and practical.  It aims to gather an evidence base about the career experiences of disabled people in the legal profession.  However, data will also inform conversations between the researchers, groups representing disabled people in the legal profession and professional stakeholders such as The Bar Council and the BSB.

The focus groups will operate under the Chatham House rule so that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of any speaker, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. However, if you feel uneasy about participating in a group discussion but would like your views to be heard, please contact info@legallydisabled.com to discuss alternative ways to be involved. 

To accommodate any access requirements and ensure that group sizes are manageable, please book your place by emailing info@legallydisabled.com. The researchers are also seeking disabled barristers who would like to help shape the research by being involved in the Research Reference Group. This will predominantly involve participation in a remote forum for the 18-month duration of the project. For more information visit www.legallydisabled.com.