New figures show huge drop in permanent positions for rookie barristers.
The number of newly registered tenancies has plunged from 541 to a mere 194, according to the latest Bar Barometer.
The drop of 64% was recorded between 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 — the most recent year for which figures are available. In previous years the average number of tenancies has been around the 500 mark, underlining the extreme irregularity of this decline (which can be seen in the graph below).
Strikingly, the much-reduced group of new tenants are far less diverse than in previous years. In 2010/2011 women accounted for 52% of new tenants, but in 2011/12 the figure fell to 38%. Ethnic minorities made up 12% of new tenants in 2010/2011 but in 2011/12 that ratio dropped to 8.8%.
The Bar Barometer — which was published jointly this week by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board — shows no corresponding fall in the number of available pupillages, which continue to hover around the 450 mark, albeit declining slightly. In 2011/2012 there were 438 first six and 475 second six pupillages registered, while in 2010/2011 there were 446 first six pupillages and 477 second six pupillages registered.
Meanwhile, in another rather shocking development, Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) numbers have risen by almost a quarter (23%). 1,732 students enrolled on the BPTC in 2011/12, up from the previous year’s figure of 1,407.