Pupillage Gateway applications fall by 9%

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By Alex Aldridge on

Hard evidence that law students are turning their backs on the bar


The number of pupillage applications made through the Bar Council’s centralised system has fallen this year despite an increase in chambers recruiting this way.

In the spring 2015 pupillage application round — which closed last week — 17,527 applications were made through the Pupillage Gateway, down from 19,239 last year.

The 9% fall was mirrored by a decline in the total number of students making those applications; last year 2,319 applied for pupillage through the Gateway, this year just 2,114 did.

The decline comes despite an increase in the number of chambers using the Pupillage Gateway this year. This afternoon the Bar Council confirmed to Legal Cheek that 95 sets went through the Gateway to hire pupils, up from 86 last year, as chambers moved away from using their own tailored application forms.

Last week we reported that the number of pupillages had fallen below the 400 mark for the first time in living memory. There were just 397 first-six pupillages places offered in 2013-14, contrasting highly unfavourably with the 5,001 training contracts available in the same year.

Happily, the new Gateway stats suggest that — at last — the message is getting through to students that the odds of becoming a lawyer (rather than a paralegal) are way better if they go down the solicitor route.

A spokesperson for the Bar Council told Legal Cheek:

“It is no surprise that there has been a slight decline in pupillage applications. Where there are fewer pupillages available this may act as a deterrent for some who realise that competition is greater than ever.

“Sadly, the shrinking pupillage pool may impact disproportionately on those from less advantaged backgrounds, who potentially cannot afford the risk of failing to secure pupillage after completing the BPTC. We hope that talented students, irrespective of their background, will still pursue a career at the Bar.”