Ghana-Born Barrister Set to Become First Black Leader of Bar Council.
A lawyer who escaped to Britain after a military coup in Ghana is to become the first black leader of the barristers’ profession.
Barbara Mills KC has been elected as next year’s vice-chairwoman of the Bar Council and will take go on to the top role at the 129-year-old body in 2025.
Called to the Bar in 1990, Mills was promoted to Queen’s Counsel only three years ago. In common with all QCs, she now has the title of King’s Counsel under the reign of Charles III. Mills will also be the first family law specialist in 35 years to lead the 17,000-strong profession in England and Wales. Based at 4PB Chambers in central London, where she is joint head, she specialises in complex cases involving children.
The latest figures suggest that only 1.3 per cent of KCs are black. Overall black barristers account for 3.2 per cent of practising barristers in England and Wales. Those from an Asian background make up the highest proportion of ethnic minority practitioners at the Bar, 7.4 per cent overall and nearly 5 per cent of KCs.
One of six children, Mills was born in Ghana in 1967 and moved to England with her mother and three siblings after a military coup. Her businessman father remained in Africa.
Mills said in an interview in 2020 that her family had lived in a flat on a “super-dangerous” social housing estate in southeast London where racial hostility was rife. She credited her mother for securing scholarships and bursaries for all the children to be privately educated.
Mills told The Times she remained proudly Ghanaian. She recalled the reaction she had received during training before qualifying as a barrister, which had been arranged over the telephone. When she arrived, the barristers said they had not been expecting a black woman: “It was obvious they didn’t want me — a narrative about who they thought I was was created just because I walked through the door.”
Mills said she wanted to focus on “the vitally important work on equality, diversity and inclusion at the Bar”, adding that there had been “some progress but there is so much more to be done”.
Source: The Times