BSB powerless to intervene in Westminster School’s mini-pupillage auction

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By Alex Aldridge on

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has said that there is nothing it can do to stop one of Britain’s most expensive public schools selling a mini-pupillage – if it is not an “assessed mini-pupillage” which directly leads to a job.

Responding to the Legal Cheek exclusive that Westminster School is auctioning work experience with a criminal barrister, a BSB spokesperson said:

“We do not regulate mini-pupillages where they do not form part of the recruitment process. We do, however, regulate formal assessed mini-pupillages which are used as part of the selection process for full pupillage. Guidance on equality and diversity rules state that any mini-pupillages that influence recruitment to pupillage should be advertised and a formal selection process used.”

It’s clear from the blurb on Westminster’s website that the mini-pupillage on offer falls into the former, non-assessed category, and is therefore outside the remit of the BSB.


The BSB’s response follows a tweet from the Bar Council in which it reiterated its previous stance on the matter that “work experience should not be bought and sold”.

The mini-pupillage – current bid £700 – is just one of many placements that feature in Westminster’s work experience auction, which spans a host of professions.

Since news broke of the controversial initiative, some of the organisations involved are believed to have withdrawn. Most recently, a lot for an internship at Imperial College’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering disappeared from the Westminster website following this post on the Bad Science blog.

Money from the auction is going towards new facilities and a bursary programme at the school, which counts Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and Attorney-General Dominic Grieve among its former pupils.