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Accent Discrimination at the Bar

Our recent ‘Accent Discrimination at the Bar’ project (funded by Nottingham Trent University) examined how the public perceives barristers in England and Wales and investigated experiences of barristers to establish whether accent discrimination disadvantages certain speakers.

Our results illustrated that the public still hold preconceived ideas about what barristers ‘should’ sound like and accents from the South-East of England and those who spoke Received Pronunciation were seen as more intelligent, confident and professional than those with non-standard regional accents.

Interviews with barristers at varying stages of their career showed emerging trends that suggest that while there have been some improvements in the profession, those who speak with certain regional accents still encounter challenges in their ability to enter and progress in their chosen career.

As this was a relatively small sample, more research is needed and we are currently in the process of applying for a 3-year funded project which is configured around three interrelated research strands, designed to examine distinct, yet complementary, aspects of accent discrimination within the barristers’ profession – examining not only perception of accents, but also the effects of having a non-standard accent on recruitment and progression at the Bar in England and Wales.

In order to ensure that our project will best suits the needs of the legal profession, we are organising an online event to give you more details about the project, the opportunity to give feedback to improve the research and become involved (as a partner, stakeholder or as a member of our advisory board).

An invitation to this event on Wednesday 15th May (6.30-8pm) will follow shortly. If you would like more information about the project or register your interest (even if you can’t make the event), then please contact Natalie Braber ([email protected]).

Register attendance here

With best wishes,

Natalie Braber

Professor of Linguistics

Nottingham Trent University



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