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Disciplinary tribunals disbarred more than twice the number of barristers last year than the previous year, the profession’s regulator announced yesterday.
Nineteen lawyers were disbarred in 2016-17 compared with just seven the previous year, according to the annual report from the Bar Standards Board. However, the number of barristers suspended dropped slightly, to five compared with eight the previous year.
The report also showed increasing enthusiasm among barristers for Bar Standards Board regulation of their non-traditional structures. The board reported that it had so far authorised more than 60 “legal services businesses”. The previous year that figure was about 50. In the last year, the board has started issuing alternative business structure licences under provisions of the Legal Services Act 2007.
The regulator reported that despite warnings that sections of the Bar were struggling to remain profitable, the profession continued to grow. The report did not provide exact figures, but said that the board was regulating nearly 16,000 practising barristers, compared with slightly more than 15,000 in the previous year.
The bar is still predominantly male, according to the report. More than 63 per cent of barristers are men, with the number of women inching up by only 0.6 per cent over the last year.
The increase was even slower for ethnic minorities at the Bar, with a 0.2 per cent rise since 2015. However, nearly 13 per cent of practising barristers have ethnic minority backgrounds, which is about 2 per cent higher than the population as a whole in England and Wales.