New D&I Categories at the UK Bar Awards 2019

1 Nov 2019

We are delighted to announce the winners of our three new D&I categories at the UK Bar Awards 2019. The individual winners were selected on the basis of the breadth and impact of their D&I work and the sets were selected on the basis of their diversity statistics, breadth and impact of programmes/D&I work.

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion – Future Leader

Zeenat Islam – 25 Bedford Row – Highly Commended
Zeenat is a champion for gender diversity, social mobility and supporting BAME communities. She is the Founder and Director of YOU*th Inspire, an educational initiative with a mission to build a generation of socially conscious and socially active young people. She has been working with young people in building aspirations, skills development and promoting youth activism for over a decade. Her work focuses on three areas: social mobility, social justice and social skills.

Dr Gregory Burke, 7 Bedford Row – Winner 
Dr Burke has overcome personal obstacles to become a barrister and a prolific champion for disability. Within five years of being called to the Bar, Gregory was Head of Employment Law at 7 Bedford Row, leading a team of 28 barristers. He works across disability, equality and employment law cases and has trained other lawyers on a number of aspects of disability compensation.

He is the Founder of, a website gives disabled people accurate, very detailed access information, so that that disabled people may assess for themselves whether a place is accessible for their own particular requirements which currently has around 2 million users. Gregory continues to mentor other disabled people and has been on radio and TV numerous times where he has spoken about disabled people’s rights at work and in everyday life. He is the inclusion link governor at a local school where he champions the inclusion of children across the relevant protected characteristics.

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion – Individual

Sonali Naik QC – Garden Court Chambers – Highly Commended
Sonali was called to the Bar in 1991 and took silk in 2018, then one of only 22 BAME women at the bar to be appointed. She is a leader in her specialist fields of public law, immigration, asylum and nationality. Within these areas she has built a diverse practice covering human rights, lawfulness of detention, family reunion and deprivation of citizenship.

Sonali’s work has helped to develop the law, often through strategic litigation challenging Home Office immigration policy. Most of her clients are from BAME communities. Sonali is Chair of Liberty and the first BAME woman to occupy this post. She is an adviser to Women Against Rape, trustee of Freedom from Torture, an Advisory Council member of JUSTICE, a trustee of the Immigrants’ Aid Trust (linked to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (“JCWI”) which she formerly chaired ) and a Patron of Clean Break a women’s theatre company working with ex-offenders.

Faisel Sadiq, Ely Place Chambers – Winner

Faisel is a true D&I champion and also a high profile ally to other diverse groups. He is a member of the Bar Council’s Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee and he has worked with the developers and producers of the practice management software used by nearly all barristers Chambers, to identify the software’s shortcomings, in terms of a Chambers’ ability to monitor the fair allocation of unallocated work.

Faisel is also Chair of the Bar Council’s Disability Sub-Group. In this capacity, he took the lead in devising the Accessibility Audit Toolkit that has been circulated to all Heads of Chambers earlier this year. He is also a Member of the Inner Temple’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Sub-Committee which is a new Sub-Committee that is seeking to identify how the Inn can make itself more diverse and inclusive. Earlier this year Faisel played a leading role, as a member of this Sub-Committee, in persuading the Inn to attend the Pride parade in Central London for the first time.

Faisel is also a Member of the Inner Temple’s Scholarships Equality Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Working Group. Faisel reviewed the process by which the Inn awards scholarships to allow students to study for the GDL / BPTC. As part of this process, the working group has changed the interview process and criteria used to award scholarships and are further reviewing our processes. Given that funding is a major impediment for many students who wish to come to the bar, it is hoped that by ensuring that the Inn’s criteria and process for awarding scholarships respects diversity the Inn will play a leading role in ensuring the bar of tomorrow better reflects the diversity of the UK.

Outstanding Contribution to D&I (set/chambers)

25 Bedford Row – Highly Commended

25 Bedford Row have recognised the financial burden of travel costs on pupils and introduced a scheme for immediate reimbursement, instead of waiting for legal aid claims to be paid. The introduction of family friendly policies, allowing counsel with caring responsibilities to work around their commitments, has meant we have working parents across the board. Supporting female counsel on their return to practice has also been an important strand of our progress, assisting them in developing a practice which allows them to balance home & work life. Our recent introduction of an email ‘out of hours’ policy, encouraging everyone in chambers to voluntarily limit their email correspondence with colleagues to working hours is another example of our aim of setting an example of better working practices.

Chambers 25 Bedford Row
Ethnicity 27% overall 
State educated 62.7% overall
First generation university 52% overall
Primary carer children 25.3%
Other caring responsibility 10.7%
Gender 37.3% female

62.7% male

Disability 94.7% No

4% Yes

1.3% Prefer not to say or no info



LGBT+ 98.7% Heterosexual

0% No information

0% Other

1.3% Bisexual

0% Gay Man

0% Gay Woman

Garden Court Chambers – Winner

Garden Court’s pioneering mentoring scheme, ‘Access to the Bar for All’, encourages students from minority and disadvantaged groups to consider a career as a barrister. It is the only scheme of its kind at the Bar. 16-year-old students, girls and/or those from ethnic minority and disadvantaged groups are offered mentoring for five years and paid internships at Garden Court.  Students in the scheme have the opportunity to be awarded a £7000 per year scholarship to assist with living expenses at university if they go on to study a law degree. Barristers from Garden Court provide mentoring to students over the course of five years.

Mentee feedback:

“I wear a scarf, I am a short, brown girl. I have felt out of place in court. I often walk into courtrooms and everyone is an older white man wearing a wig. It used to be intimidating, but I’m getting used to it. Through ‘Access to the Bar for All’ I can see that I am welcome here and that I am supported.”

“It’s so useful working with people who are instructed in cases every day – being able to witness them, react to them, be curious and ask anything you want, to get answers to your questions straightaway and discuss them with someone who is so knowledgeable… That’s something that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.”

“I love that this scheme is aimed at girls – it’s been amazing being around such intelligent women, both my peers and my superiors. I just feed off them. It’s great to have such impressive role models – especially women from similar backgrounds to me – and I’ve met quite a few already. Every time I see one particular barrister at Garden Court Chambers I’m just so inspired.”

*Diversity statistics provided – currently unable to publish*