Pride 2023 and the Bar – I felt welcomed to be myself from day one says Robert Povall

June 13, 2023

Robert Povall is a member of Exchange Chambers’ family law department.

He cared for his grandmother while attending the local comprehensive school and was the first in his family to go to university.

“As a gay man from a small village in Merseyside, I grew up believing the Bar was not a place for people like me,” says Robert.

After being bullied at school over his sexuality, Robert gained confidence and acceptance while studying languages at the University of Leeds. A chance encounter at a local jobs fair inspired him to pursue a career at the Bar.

Like most aspiring barristers, Robert found the huge costs of training tough, but received an award from Middle Temple that opened the door to work experience.

To make himself stand out, he worked for no charge, competed at mooting – mock hearings – and networked before landing himself a pupillage.

“The Bar has incredible highs, but also crashing lows,” Robert says. “Once you weather the storm you will be thankful that you did when the true challenge of practice begins.”

Robert says that he is comfortable working at the Bar in the north of England. “I felt welcomed and even encouraged to be myself from the very first day. I came to realise that this is a profession where merit is appreciated above all else and, reassuringly, have never felt out of place,” he concludes.

A version of this article first appeared in The Times.