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Bullying and Harassment at the Bar

The Bar Council has published new research findings today showing increasing numbers of barristers have had their professional lives made more difficult because of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour at the Bar.

The behaviours reported are observed across the profession and involve judges, barristers, chambers’ staff, solicitors, as well as court staff. Inappropriate behaviour at the Bar can include pejorative or demeaning language, intimidating or bullying behaviour, unwanted attention, unwanted physical contact, sexual harassment and serious abuse, inappropriate comments, online abuse, or sexist, racist and ableist behaviours.

Bullying can occur in any professional setting, including legal professions, and it can take various forms such as verbal abuse, harassment, exclusion, or other harmful behaviors. The legal profession is known for its competitive nature, and the high-stakes environment can sometimes contribute to a culture that tolerates or even fosters bullying behavior.

The key findings highlight:

Barristers have been increasingly reporting that they have experienced or witnessed bullying, harassment, and discrimination. In our most recent survey, 44% of respondents said they had experienced or observed this behaviour while working either in person or online. This is an increase from 38% in 2021 and 31% in 2017.

Efforts are ongoing within the legal profession, including the Bar, to promote a more inclusive and respectful working environment. This may involve educational programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives to address systemic issues that may contribute to bullying. The Bar Council will undertake a review before working on ways to address the issue.


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