Barbara Mills KC, a barrister of Ghanaian descent, was chosen as the Vice Chair of the Bar Council for 2024, making her the first Black person and the first person of color to hold that post. For barristers in England and Wales, the Bar Council provides representation, assistance, and services. In addition, Mills fills the role of specialized family physician for the first time in 35 years after fleeing to Britain following a military takeover in Ghana.
“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 one of her main areas of focus, as the first specialist family practitioner to assume the position in 35 years, will be to raise the profile of the publicly funded family Bar, building on the excellent work done in recent years to highlight issues faced by the publicly funded criminal Bar.
Mills, who was called to the bar in 1990, is a co-head of chambers at 4PB, one of the top family law sets in England and Wales according to the Bar Council. In addition to serving as a Recorder on the South Eastern Circuit for more than ten years, the Ghanaian-born judge also serves as a Deputy High Court Judge.
The Bar Council described Mills as an arbitrator and mediator with expertise in difficult child custody disputes, frequently involving a global component. Mills is also a member of the Bar Council’s Equality, Diversity, and Social Mobility (EDSM) Committee. She co-edits the International Family Law Journal and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Mills, who co-chairs the Bar Council’s Race Working Group and is preparing to assume the top position of the 129-year-old Bar Council in 2025, said her second priority in her impending position as Vice Chair of the Bar is to continue the crucial work on equality, diversity, and inclusion at the Bar.
According to a statement from the Bar Council, Mills will join the officer team in January 2019 along with vice chair Sam Townend KC, who was chosen without opposition to serve as chair of the bar in 2024. According to the announcement, Lorinda Long, who was re-elected as Treasurer for 2024, will also be a part of the officer group.