The Bar Council yesterday (16 April) launched the first ever Bar nursery at Smithfield House, in a bid to support working parents.
The central London childcare facility is the result of a campaign by the Bar Nursery Association, which was established in 2007 with the aim of promoting a family-friendly working environment and to retain female professionals after having children.
Opening near the Inns of Court, the Bar Council says it hopes the nursery will relieve the burden of high childcare costs and long and irregular working hours.
It is available to children between the age of eight weeks and five years from 7am until 7pm, five days a week. Special rates are available for all members of the Bar, as well as chambers staff and Bar Council employees.
Maura McGowan QC, chair of the Bar Council, said: ‘The Bar Council is committed to supporting parents and ensuring that the profession retains its best people.
‘Owing to the nature of work at the Bar, many parents find it exceptionally difficult to juggle childcare responsibilities with their ever-changing work schedule, particularly those barristers who regularly appear in court, which can mean travelling to different towns every day.
‘It is important that members of the profession are not discouraged from starting a family because of their work, which could have a detrimental effect particularly on the number of women choosing a career at the Bar, and could see talented practitioners leaving the self-employed Bar for a more stable working life in employed practice, or even another profession.’
McGowan said that further nurseries could be set up outside London in the near future depending on the popularity of the current initiative.
The 2012 Bar Standards Board and Bar Council survey, ‘Barristers’ Working Lives’ found that just 20% of barristers considered the Bar a family friendly work environment. It also found that of barristers with dependent children, 66% of females took on the main responsibility for childcare compared to just 4% of men.