Farrar’s Building is committed to reducing or removing barriers at the Bar for wheelchair users and neurodiverse people. Continuing the momentum of our achievements last year, when we were announced ‘Winners’ in the ‘Best ESG Campaign’ category at the Personal Injury Awards 2023, we are delighted to have been shortlisted by the Legal 500 ESG Awards 2024 for ‘Best ESG initiative to attract and retain talent’.
In addition to this, the editorial team at Legal 500, have autonomy to add a submission where they believe recognition is well-deserved and they have on this occasion, also shortlisted our Chief Executive and Director of Clerking, Paul Cray for Bar Champion of the Year in the disability and neurodiversity category of the ESG Awards.
This recognition highlights how Chambers is improving its disability and neurodiversity commitments, in order to attract and retain disabled and neurodiverse barristers and staff. A little more on each of these important responsibilities below:
We are proud to confirm that our historic building is now one of the first sets in Temple with wheelchair accessibility from the basement to the third floor. These facilities, which also include a brand-new accessible toilet and wet room, will rightly allow wheelchair users and those with accessibility requirements to access Chambers and to be fully integrated into the ‘Farrar’s Family’.
In addition to the extensive renovations to our building, we embarked upon a project to collate data surrounding court and transport accessibility. The practice of many barristers is heavily court-based, and our aim was therefore to mitigate, as far as possible, the societal barriers that could impact wheelchair users’ careers at the Bar. These have included:
Court accessibility data has significantly assisted the clerking team to understand which courts wheelchair users at the Bar are able to accept work in, and which present obstacles due to transport or accessibility issues. This enables us to liaise with clients accordingly in the management of members’ practices.
We are confident our efforts will result in shared data between HMCTS and the Bar Council, available online and accessible to all court users.
As a set, we make every effort to provide support to ensure our workplace is inclusive. Whilst our neurodiverse barristers are often able to make necessary adjustments to their professional lives, it is important for us as a set to accommodate individual requirements to ensure any events which bring a level of unpredictability are well-managed. We have taken steps to educate ourselves, so we can, as a set, make reasonable adjustments to accommodate and support our neurodiverse barristers.
Amongst other initiatives, we are committed to ensuring our marketing and development strategies are accessible and inclusive. We implement several support measures, particularly with large marketing events. These include providing our neurodiverse members with a defined list of objectives when attending group events, details of those attending, who to speak to and why. We might arrange for certain members to arrive early, to allow the crowd to build slowly and avoid entering a busy, loud environment. If a large-scale event is not suited to our neurodiverse members, we will consider targeted, one-to-one meetings as an alternative, ensuring the same opportunities as other members.
One of our members comments: ‘Part of life as a neurodiverse practitioner is exploiting the many positive characteristics of the neurodiversity. Certain challenges which might otherwise act as a constraint on my practice development are significantly mitigated by the meaningful and thoughtful support provided by the team.’
We look forward to celebrating our fantastic, Farrar’s team and its inclusivity at the Legal 500 ESG Awards on 24 April 2024.