This is what one chambers’ haul of pupillage applications looks like

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By Judge John Hack on

A 40-member set in the Temple is swamped with pleas from wannabe barristers — and it won’t be the only one


Here’s a short, sharp and brutal illustration of how tough it is for wannabe barristers.

The Temple’s 5 Essex Court tweeted this image a couple of days ago. At first glance it appears to be nothing more than a rather dull shot of the type of files one would expect in any office.

However, it is in fact a picture of what must be hundreds of pupillage applications — all of which, presumably, the senior members at the chambers will be looking forward to ploughing through.

Now this is no slur on 5 Essex Court, but the chambers — which houses 40 tenants, seven of which are silks — is not exactly top of the bar’s league table of big hitters in the pupillage wars. It is a perfectly respectable and solid civil set that is indeed acknowledged to be a leader in police law cases and public enquires.

But it is not a moneybags set. However, that hasn’t prevented a flood of applications for its two annual pupillage places, for which it grants awards of £40,000 each.

However, this chambers is not likely to be alone in wading through a tsunami of pupillage applications. At the end of April, Legal Cheek reported that pupillage places across the bar in England and Wales had dipped below 400 for the first time in living memory.

Nonetheless, annual enrolment on the Bar Professional Training Course stands at around 1,700 students. Some of those will be overseas students with no intention of practising in this jurisdiction, but even so, the numbers are not stacking up.