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MILLIONAIRE LAWYERS SHOULD FUND PUPILLAGES

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Unless the legal profession acts, an occupation of the Inns of Court could become inevitable, argues OccupyTheInns

During the last few days I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is not currently a realistic objective to occupy the Inns of Court. It has become clear to me that it is simply too dangerous for most law graduates without training contracts or pupillages to attempt an occupation. I include myself in this group. As angry and disheartened as I may be, I continue to be hopeful of obtaining pupillage, and indeed have had some positive news on that front.

For that reason I can see that protest is something that all disenfranchised law graduates must approach with caution. Nevertheless, I am proud of this campaign for raising a good deal of awareness on the matter, notwithstanding some disappointing comments in response to the words I have written. Sadly, I expect more to follow these words.

I make the above statement of retreat with a caveat, however. If a year or two passes and a sizeable number of law graduates remain without pupillages and training contracts, and without the hope of securing one, then the situation could be very different. At that point, it may be more dangerous to continue sleep-walking in a basic legal support role than to publicly draw attention to the situation through an occupation of the Inns of Court.

As Harold Macmillan once said when talking about the greatest challenge for a statesman: “Events, my dear boy, events.” It is also events that will decide the fate of law graduates in my position. Will there be an economic recovery? How will the legal aid cuts fall, and what effect will those cuts have on pupils and trainees? Will legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies continue to grow at present rates?

My personal belief is that this will be a slow recovery, that the legal aid cuts will affect young lawyers disproportionately and that LPO will indeed continue to grow. That is why I believe that to avoid an occupation movement in the future, the profession must be pro-active.

Last week I put forward three key proposals to make pupillages more widely available. These included a freeze on all legal aid cuts to fund more pupillages and tenancies. In hindsight I do not think this went far enough. The government seems determined to push ahead with its legal aid cuts so it is my submission that the burden falls on senior solicitors and barristers to ensure the best of this generation of law graduates find a path into the profession.

Senior lawyers often earn easily in excess of £1 million – and this year Linklaters’ top earning partner took home £2.2 million. Would it truly be asking that much for them to sacrifice a small portion of these sums to fund between them pupillages and training contracts for the jobless graduates who have the strongest CVs (in other words, the people with a reasonable expectation of obtaining a graduate position)? I believe it would not, and that it would be for the good of the profession as a whole if lawyers acted in this way. We are not asking for very much; the minimum pupillage award is just £12,000 and I am sure that would be good enough for most of us even though it is an exceedingly low amount. Food for thought I hope.

OccupyTheInns graduated from the BPTC this summer, and was called to the Bar in July.

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11 Comments

Cock knocker

“Would it truly be asking that much for them to sacrifice a small portion of these sums to fund between them pupillages and training contracts for the jobless graduates who have the strongest CVs (in other words, the people with a reasonable expectation of obtaining a graduate position)?”

But they already do hand out pupillages and training contracts to graduates with strong CVs. Hundreds of people get them every year.

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Benjamin Gray

They already do. Where do you think the money comes from to fund pupillage?

You’ve done sod-all to “raise awareness”. The structural problems of BPTC oversupply are well-known and plenty of people have been discussing them. You just haven’t bothered to familiarise yourself with any of the real issues or current discussions, it would appear.

And why are you referring to solicitors’ earnings when this is a Bar issue?

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D_T_T

Others made the point more eloquently on your last post that you do not have the “reasonable expectation” of pupillage that you think you do, in that your academics and experience, whilst respectable, are not stellar, and you are probably in the broad range of average candidates who may or may not secure pupillage but are not outstanding enough for it to be surprising that they have not achieved it yet. Even a genuinely first-rate candidate (and you are not one of those – I’ll be fair and say I wouldn’t have been one of those either) does not have a guaranteed right to the job of their choice.

I had thought the reference to “occupying” the Inns of Court was ironic but now I see you appear to have been entirely serious, which is pretty mindboggling. You must also be in earnest when you suggest here that senior lawyers be required to fund the aspirations of the next generation. As noted above, training places are already funded and subsidised in both the solicitor and barrister professions, in effect by senior members thereof. Of course, they are nowhere near funded enough to allow every LPC and BPTC graduate or legal career hopeful to get into the profession, but there simply are not the qualified places out there to support the numbers of wannabe lawyers and so the bottleneck would simply be moved further down the line. At the same time, the world doesn’t owe you a living so there isn’t any reason senior lawyers should fund the pipe dreams of others anyway. Not fair? Harsh on those who want a legal career? Cold hard reality? Yes, yes and yes. The reality is that if there is a need for you in the legal world, you’ll find a place. If you’re not needed, then you might need to set your sights elsewhere.

The bottleneck is a problem, but the solution is, sadly, to impose stricter academic standards for both the LPC and BPTC and cut the numbers of places, or alternatively for those who do the courses to be realistic and objective and pay their fees with their eyes wide open to the fact that they may be taking a big gamble with only an outside chance of it paying off. No-one is going to make pupillages or training contracts magically appear. Not the government, not senior lawyers, not the legal careers fairy. They will, like the majority of other jobs, continue to be influenced by supply and demand.

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BarBar

What a spoilt sounding, brattish whelp.

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kris

Hey kid,

I don’t want to pile in – but as above, partners in solicitors firms already do pony up. Trainees may bill the moon, but the reality is much of their time is written off – as they are *training*. Who do you think funds the trainee then? The partners of the firm.

Of course they do it as a loss leader. The kid may cost them now, but if s/he sticks with the firm, they’ll be billing 3x salary and making the partners even richer – at least that’s the plan.

Who do you think pays for pupillage? Erm, the barristers in chambers pony up part of their income so the top kids from the sixth form at Mallory Towers can eventually pay rent and their 10 percents.

I don’t wish to belabour the point, but thinking someone owes you a living or even a chance – and then being resentful because nobody has – is an utter waste of time.

Look kid, don’t feel like the lone ranger. I didn’t get pupillage. I made the decision that I would not continue to bang my head against the wall and I took advantage of the then rule allowing non practising barristers to take the QLTT and qualify as a solicitor. I went on to be able to exercise both civil and criminal higher rights. I’m now deciding which regulatory body I should next pay my subs to. I didn’t wait around for a fat-cat lawyer to give me that choice.

I don’t know what’s best for you. I don’t even know if I threw in the pupillage towel too soon. Sometimes, I wonder if I should have just continued with my first career and reserved playing lawyers to a retirement hobby.

But what I do know is that while you’re resenting the *haves* of the legal world, there is something productive you could be doing. You previously wrote about wanting to contribute to society. Guess what? There are probably a million other ways you can do that without being a lawyer.

But I see from your avatar, you might be into the wig. And reading between the lines, it looks like you want a slice of the cache for yourself.

Only a fraction of practising barristers and parking their mercs at the Inn. Most are probably waiting to be paid – and carrying eye-watering over-drafts.

And yes, there is the “independence” of the Bar, independent insofar as you have a few solicitors who love you and keep you in briefs.

You seem to think that if only a chambers would give you that break, it would all fall into place. My experience is some barristers are wildly successful (and very, very good) and that most are jobbing lawyers who are just hoping their chambers doesn’t fold.

Good luck, kid.

Over and out.

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Daniel Hoadley

How many times have you actually applied for pupillage? An answer to this would be useful.

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Benjamin Gray

Given, GDL last year, BPTC graduation and call this year, it would appear to be twice at the most.

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Richard Borrett

They do already… chambers fund pupillages from members’ rent.

And you really shouldnt’t believe everything you read about earnings at the bar (especially not when you are quoting the earnings of partners at major international law firms. The number of barristers earning anywhere near that is slim.

Sadly you sound more and more like you feel you are ‘entitled’ to something by virtue of completing the training. As I said on your previous post the situation is unfortunate, but the profession does not owe you anything, and those who are at the top should not have to fork out to fund additional pupillages for which there is no need. If the market is there for them they will be created. Clearly the market is not there for publicly funded work but the bar is not dead yet…

What would be the point in funding a whole load of additional pupillages if there were no work at the end?

The current system is unfair, but the answer is not to artificially fund everyone who has done the BVC and ‘ticks the boxes’ simply out of a feeling of guilt or pity…

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Tom

Why are you still giving this joker a platform? Go on, feed his sense of entitlement a little bit more.

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[…] proposed in a somewhat controversial proposal on the up-and-coming Legal Cheek blog, in an article entitled “Milionnaire lawyers should fund […]

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[…] own words, which appeared in Legal Cheek in November, read as follows: “Senior lawyers often earn easily in excess of £1 million – and this year […]

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