Being the minority: What is life like as a black barrister
Photo by Myah Jeffers
ITV News Central Presenter Pablo Taylor hears about the challenges two black barristers have faced
As part of Black History Month, ITV News Central has been hearing about what it is like to be one of very few black people at work.
It comes as figures show only 3% of all barristers working in the UK are black, with that dropping to just 1.2% when it comes to QCs - the most senior barristers.
Cassandra Williams is the only black barrister at her chambers in Nottingham.
She said she has often felt a pressure to work harder because of a fear that she might not be perceived as good enough.
'It's difficult to shake the underlying fear of perception that you aren't as good as your white counterparts', Cassandra says
Ms Williams also admits that she has straightened her hair as a way of "fitting in".
She said: "I have definitely felt a pressure to assimilate or blend in. I have probably made quite a large change from a cultural perspective and that is with my hair."
"I recall actually being at a social function a few years ago and a barrister came up to me - I should say I was wearing my hair natural at this function - and the barrister came up to me and told me that he thought I should wear my hair straight because it looked more sophisticated."
'A barrister came up to me and told me that he thought I should wear my hair straight because it looked more sophisticated', Cassandra says
Meanwhile, Adeo Fraser is one of a handful of black barristers at his chambers in Birmingham.
He said it is not uncommon for black barristers to be mistaken for social workers or even defendants whilst at court.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a barrister in the country who hasn't had an experience like the world-publicised experience of Alexandra Wilson."
'It's normal for us to be mistaken for social workers, it's normal for us to be mistaken for defendants', Adeo says
He added: "Alexandra spoke about going to court and being mistaken for a defendant."
Both Cassandra and Adeo have said more needs to be done to encourage black students to enter the legal profession.
They said it is important that the justice system is reflective of the society it serves.