An announcement by the Supreme court details an initiative to increase diversity in the judiciary by introducing paid internships for budding lawyers from underrepresented communities.
In collaboration with the charity Bridging the Bar, the scheme comes at a time in which the supreme court, judiciary and legal profession face scrutiny over inclusivity.
Current diversity is evidently limited with all 12 supreme court justices being white and only two being women. As of 1st April, throughout the judiciary in England and Wales there is an 8% proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) court judges. In senior positions, the proportion is just 4%. The respective figures for women were 32% and 26%. As claimed by the 2011 census, 14% of the population were BAME and 51% were female.
The upcoming programme will offer a five day placement to eight Bridging the Bar candidates who have accepted or completed the bar professional training course.
Chief executive of the UK supreme court Vicky Fox stated: “The court recognises that it has a leadership role to play to support increasing diversity of the judiciary and it is our intention that this programme will support the progression of underrepresented groups into the legal profession and ultimately into judicial roles.”
Over the course of the week, each intern will be allocated to a judicial assistant and will observe cases, debate legal arguments with justices and obtain insights and guidance.
The announcement for this scheme came as the supreme court published its judicial diversity and inclusion policy, which intends to support the advancement of underrepresented groups into judicial roles and achieve an inclusive environment for justices.