Apprentice Star Sparks Daily Mail Pupillage Coffee-Making Row

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By Alex Aldridge on

“If you had someone trained as a barrister, you wouldn’t have them running round making coffee all day – it’s demeaning,” Apprentice winner (and former banker) Stella English told the Daily Mail on Monday, having quit her new role because she wasn’t given enough responsibility.

Au contraire, Stella. Rookie barristers make lots of coffee – and they read the Daily Mail, too…

“Pupil barrister[s] spends half their life making coffee for others! It is not demeaning, it is about understanding the workplace,” hit back ‘g.hudson’ from Cheadle in the comment section of the article.

‘la Ghash’ from London added: “Well, I trained as a Barrister, was working in a law firm and part of my ‘job’ was photocopying all day and sitting at a computer researching minor infractions of the law for hours at a time, putting together files, taking phone messages for my boss…some fellow trainee barristers I know (i.e. passed their Bar exams at an expense of £15,000 and are awaiting that elusive pupillage that is only available to approximately 1 in 36 graduates due to shortages of placement, most of which exist in London, very few in my specific area of crime, prison and human rights law) DO make tea and run errands and perform the bulk of their daily work as a glorified secretary to someone who has worked at that firm for 10 years longer — just because you train does not mean you enter a job at any given level!!”

Take note prima donna-types with Bar aspirations, because they’re right. Don’t believe me? Consult the BabyBarista blog, where author Tim Kevan (who practised at 1 Temple Gardens for ten years) recently described the secret to surviving pupillage as finding out “what brand of coffee your pupilmaster likes”.

Don’t believe him? Check out the official pupillage policy document of Leeds’ Park Court Chambers, which spells out the coffee-making requirement explicitly.

“[The first six pupil] will be expected to do small amounts of photocopying or faxing for his own pupil supervisor but large amounts of such work should be passed to the support staff in the normal way. He will be expected to do his share of tea and coffee making but not to excess and never for conferences.”

Not that the Bar officially condones pupil barrister coffee-making, of course. The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) pupillage handbook states: “Completely non-educational tasks should of course be banned. Inordinate requests by supervisors or other members of chambers to pupils to do routine work (e.g. excessive photocopying, coffee making etc, or running shopping errands and so on) are inappropriate.”