31 Oct, 2012

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, will today host its second Disability Conference, enabling delegates to address issues affecting disabled practitioners, reasonable adjustments to assist them to stay in practice, and how best to manage sensitively colleagues and other individuals with mental health problems, both in chambers and in the courtroom.


As the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Final Report of his Working Party on Entry to the Bar approaches, Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, will deliver the keynote speech on the importance of attracting, retaining and developing the most talented barristers from the widest possible pool. He will stress the need to remove barriers which may obstruct such equality of access for those with disabilities who aspire to enter the legal profession.


Michael Todd QC (pictured), Chairman of the Bar, said: “We must ensure that talented disabled barristers are making their way at every level of the profession, including taking Silk and sitting as judges. The Bar needs to attract and retain the best practitioners. It is therefore vital that we continue to make adjustments to enable disabled people to enter the Bar and succeed in practice.


“External stress factors are being felt particularly hard within publicly-funded areas of the profession, where many are struggling financially. At the same time, increasing public attention is being focused on ways of eliminating the stigma attached to mental health issues. Whether making reasonable adjustments for colleagues or cross-examining a vulnerable witness, we at the Bar must lead the way in dealing sensitively with individuals with mental health problems.” 

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