Ghanaian-born barrister Barbara Mills KC has been elected as the Vice Chair of the Bar Council for 2024, making her the first Black person and first person of color to be selected for that position. The Bar Council provides representation, support and services for barristers in England and Wales. Mills, who fled to Britain after a military coup in Ghana, also becomes the first specialist family practitioner in 35 years to take up the position.
“When Baroness Hallett became the first woman to chair the Bar Council in 1998, I was inspired and uplifted, but it seemed like a hopeless dream for me. So, I am deeply honoured and humbled to have been elected as the next Vice Chair,” Mills said after her election, according to a statement by the Bar Council.
She added that as the first specialist family practitioner to take up the role in 35 years, one of her main areas of focus will be to raise the profile of the publicly funded family Bar, following in the footsteps of the excellent work undertaken in recent years to shine a spotlight on challenges faced by the publicly funded criminal Bar.
Called to the Bar in 1990, Mills is joint head of chambers at 4PB, which the Bar Council describes as one of the leading family law sets in England and Wales. The Ghanaian-born sits as a Deputy High Court Judge besides having been a Recorder on the South Eastern Circuit for more than 10 years.
Describing her as an arbitrator and mediator who specializes in complex children cases often with an international element, the Bar Council said Mills is also a member of the Bar Council’s Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility (EDSM) Committee. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and co-edits the International Family Law Journal. Ready to take up the top role of the 129-year-old Bar Council in 2025, Mills, who co-chairs the Bar Council’s Race Working Group, said her second priority in her upcoming role as Vice Chair of the Bar is to go ahead with the important work on equality, diversity and inclusion at the Bar.
The statement by the Bar Council said Mills will join the officer team from January next year alongside current Vice Chair Sam Townend KC, who was elected unopposed as Chair of the Bar for 2024. Lorinda Long, who was re-elected as Treasurer for 2024, will also be a member of the officer team, per the statement.