There was widespread disbelief earlier this year when, for the first time in its three-year history, Pupillage Portal didn’t go down in the run up to the April 26 pupillage application deadline.
And there was more shock today when the site – which is rumoured to have been designed by Lord Neuberger during an introduction to the internet class – kept working as chambers made their pupillage offers.
But in facilitating this impressive outcome, the elite team of operatives responsible for maintaining Pupillage Portal let a couple of other things slip...
This evening, following months of rehearsals, BPTC graduate Ricky Seal and solicitor Kevin Poulter will appear in Danny Boyle's Olympic Games opening ceremony.
The pair tell policy wonk and part-time LPC student Sophie Earnshaw and journalist Alex Aldridge about their deep sense of pride as they prepare for the event over a bottle of wine in Legal Cheek's Hackney studios – located just a stone’s throw from the Olympics site.
But will they be donning leisure wear branded with the name of Poulter's firm, Bircham Dyson Bell, for the occasion?
Listen to their conversation in full in the podcast below, where Seal and Earnshaw also outline their strategies to net, respectively, a pupillage and a training contract.
Accepting you’re not going to get a pupillage can take more courage than blindly persisting with your barrister dream, writes Gemma Amran
This year was going to be a different. I could feel it.
I had been working in EU criminal justice policy at the European Commission in Brussels for the last year. After three years of applying for pupillage, having achieved accolades from my Inn and during my legal studies, interned at human rights NGOs and at the UN, done mini-pupillages, volunteered at legal advice centres and worked for legal charities, surely this was my time...
The BBC’s Paul 'I’ve-lived-in-London-for-20-years-but-still-speak-like-a-miner' Mason is pessimistic about the future of conventional graduate jobs.
"The west's model is broken. It cannot deliver enough high-value work for its highly educated workforce," he wrote last week.
But Mason is encouraged by the initiative shown by the youth of today, who he believes could be saved by their innate capacity for entrepreneurship. "All those tests, drills, teach-to-exam lectures, and the relentless vocationality of education, has made this generation highly entrepreneurial," he added.
The trouble law graduates face as they bid to become the Richard Bransons of the legal world is, of course, that they need to have first completed a pupillage or training contract in order to be able to set up on their own as practising lawyers. Without the right to provide legal services, their options are limited. And as Legal Cheek has found out the hard way, placing adverts offering unregulated legal advice on internet sites like Fiverr (see above) doesn’t always yield results.
OccupyTheInns backs Lord Sumption's recent pro-GDL comments, and draws paralells between drug shame pupil Henry Mostyn and new Spurs manager André Villas-Boas
After so much discussion recently about "accelerated" law degrees and legal apprenticeships, I was relieved to read over the weekend the ever-sensible Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption standing up for the liberal arts route into our profession.
"I think that it is best not to read law as an undergraduate," Lord Sumption told Counsel magazine, with his comments subsequently carried by The Telegraph.
He proceeded to add: "The problem is that we have a generation of lawyers, and this applies to solicitors as well as barristers, who are coming into the profession with much less in the way of general culture than their predecessors.
Rarely have I ever read a truer word. As my regular readers will know, I took the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) route to the Bar, having previously studied a non-law degree at a leading Russell Group university. In order to preserve my anonymity, I won’t tell you which subject I studied, but I will say that it made me a damn sight more rounded an individual that if I had read an LLB.
...but it would put pressure on chambers to fund the course – and could lead to it getting scrapped altogether, writes Lancaster University's Angus MacCulloch
The plight of thousands of aspiring barristers who invest large sums of money to undertake the BPTC, but are increasingly unlikely to secure pupillage, has encouraged a lively debate in and around the profession (see, for instance, contributions from The Law Horse, Alex Aldridge and BPP Law School CEO Peter Crisp).
In this debate competition law looms like a spectre; often being referred to but rarely being discussed.
It is also worth remembering that any question regarding access to the Bar is equally applicable to all other branches of the legal, and other, professions.
The Bar isn’t being singled out for attention, it just happens to be in the cross hairs at the moment.
The competition law issue is essentially very simple. The Bar Standards Board (BSB), as a professional body and regulator, controls the entry requirements for the profession. The competition authorities become concerned when it appears that the rules put in place by the regulator appear to favour the interests of the profession over that of others. The Competition Authority’s task is to ensure that the market for legal services operates in a manner which best serves the interests of the consumer.
When deciding who can practice at the Bar the rules should ensure the quality of legal services and, by facilitating healthy competition, ensure low prices and increased accessibility, by means of direct access or otherwise.
I’ll take a look at a few of the suggestions made for reform and tease out the competition problems before I pitch in my own thoughts.
For most people, summer means festivals and perhaps a few weeks in Ibiza. Not so for BPTC graduates. No, for us masochistic souls, summer is interview time. It is not always an easy period – and can be made more difficult by chambers’ behaviour towards those who they interview, writes @OccupyTheInns.
Recently, I attended an interview a good way north of London. When I arrived there, I was granted a mere 15 minutes to present the case in favour of myself gaining pupillage. No reimbursement was provided towards my train fare, which cost in the region of £80.
After I had returned home, and received a letter notifying me that I had not been successful, I requested feedback on my performance at interview. Rather disappointingly I was informed that no feedback provided was provided for first round interviews. After making such a large outlay to attend that interview, both in terms of cost and time, this is simply unacceptable.
The chairman of the Bar Council was recently reported in the Evening Standard saying that there are not enough pupillages for those trying to enter the Bar. This is not new, but that is not to say that it should not be news, writes The Law Horse.
Every BPTC student gambles tens of thousands of pounds on their legal future, only for most to find that they are one of hundreds betting on diminishingly slim odds of securing a pupillage. It is disconcerting – the more so as the problem worsens – and Michael Todd QC is right to give light to the issue. To dismiss his concerns as “scaremongering” while your organisation profits from selling false hope is flatly dishonest.
If the issue is old, so are the touted solutions. Without of course wishing to pre-empt the self-indulgently expensive white elephant that is the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR), there are five broad solutions to consider.