Skip to main content

The Inns of Court Alliance for Women

The Inns of Court Alliance for Women

(Formerly known as the Temple Women’s Forum)

The Inns of Court are delighted to announce the newly constituted Inns of Court Alliance for Women (ICAW) under the direction of Co-Convenors

The Rt Hon Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE (Gray’s Inn)

Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC (The Inner Temple)

Her Honour Judge Khatun Sapnara (Middle Temple)

Chief Master Karen Shuman (Lincoln’s Inn)

The Inns of Court Alliance for Women exists to encourage and support women throughout their careers, and to increase retention and diversity within the profession. The ICAW recognises the challenges and barriers to career progression and wellbeing faced by women in the law, and the intersectional disadvantage faced by women from non-white ethnic backgrounds and by women with disabilities.

The ICAW commits to:

  1. providing a safe forum where issues facing women in the profession can be discussed to foster a culture of mutual support
  2. supporting the Inns’ commitment to equality, diversity, inclusion, and social mobility
  3. taking an intersectional approach to talks and events to ensure the voices of women facing inequality are heard
  4. promoting initiatives across the four Inns to support access, retention, and progression of women in the profession


Please see the Inn’s calendar for further information or contact Laura Hacon, the Inn's Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator.

Background Information

Originally established in 2011 by Professor Dawn Oliver, then Treasurer of Middle Temple, and subsequently developed into a joint initiative as The Temple Women’s Forum by Middle Temple and The Inner Temple in 2012/2013, with Co-Convenors Her Honour Judge Deborah Taylor and Rachel Langdale QC. The forum worked to identify key issues contributing to the decision by many women to leave the profession in the prime of their careers.

In December 2021, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first woman to be called to the Bar, Ivy Williams, it was agreed between the Inns of Court that the forum should become an entity of the four Inns under the new title of The Inns of Court Alliance for Women (ICAW). Male allies are welcomed and encouraged to support and participate in initiatives organised by the ICAW.

Summary of Recent Research on Women Barristers 

The following note summarises the research relating to gender equality and the experiences of women barristers at the Bar of England and Wales from various professional bodies, including The Bar Standards Board, The Bar Council, The Work Foundation, The Western Circuit Women’s Forum, The Lawyer magazine and more.

These summaries aim to provide an overview of the principal findings and conclusions from a range of papers, and include stated objectives, methodology of the research, and in places, recommendations and key indicators for change.

These summaries are selective in nature and although they draw upon official summaries (where these exist), they sometimes provide greater or less detail than those summaries, paraphrase the language used and have not been approved by the authors. Hyperlinks are provided so that readers can access the full background and complete set of findings/conclusions should they wish to obtain more detail.

This note does not purport to summarise the entirety of the research relevant to gender equality and the experiences of women barristers at the Bar of England and Wales.

Download: Amended Summary of Existing Research on Women at the Bar