Bar Council must delay plans to move Pupillage Gateway deadline

By on

Clarity is urgently needed instead of tumbleweed blowing across the website’s alerts page


Bar Council officials confirmed last weekend — after a bit of prodding — that the Pupillage Gateway timetable will be brought forward in 2016.

In recent years, the Gateway has opened and closed in April, but it is now set to open in mid-January. Pupillage offers will be made at the beginning of May.

The Bar Council is doing this for admirable reasons: to avoid clashes between interviews and exams/dissertation deadlines; to allow pre-vocational course candidates to know the outcome of the pupillage round before they commit money to the Bar Professional Training Course; and to bring the timetable closer in to line with the non-Gateway sets, who mainly use January deadlines already.

But there remains no word of the date of the crucial new deadline. So far, the Bar Council just isn’t telling.

However, it seems fair to speculate that the deadline will fall in late January or early February — in other words, perhaps not even six months away.

The consensus seems to be that an earlier Gateway deadline — and the earlier offers that it will bring about — is a positive move. However, it is worth noting that future Graduate Diploma in Law students will be just weeks into their studies before having to turn their attention to pupillage applications.

But whatever the merits of an earlier deadline, a lack of communication around the change risks putting this year’s applicants at a serious disadvantage — with less well-connected students likely to be hardest hit.

Therefore, bar officials urgently need to clarify: the deadline for closure of the Gateway; how that information will be communicated to law schools and chambers; and the steps the Bar Council will take to communicate with would-be applicants not currently at law school.

The Bar Council currently offers no information beyond Monday’s statement. Tumbleweed was recently spotted on the Pupillage Gateway’s ‘news and alerts’ page; there were no updates at all.


Applicants need to start planning their submissions now, and the communication from the Bar Council so far has simply not been good enough.

Bar leaders should seriously consider delaying the changes to 2017 so they can have another go at getting the message out.

Amy Woolfson is an LLM student at Harvard Law School who will be applying for pupillage in the 2016 application round.



Amy, advanced warning, the pupillage gateway deadline may move to January! Hope that isn’t a surprise for you. I’m sure you will be making December/January/February applications anyway.



Isn’t 6 months’ warning sufficient?

No matter where the date is moved to someone is going to complain that it isn’t working for them.



This is a nothing article.

Bit annoying that we won’t really be able to work Easter mini-pupillages into pupillage apps, though. No one’s really thought about how difficult it is for students at isolated universities to complete minis, especially during term-time.


Amy Woolfson

Applicants that are not current students at major universities or law schools could well get caught out by the new dates, and I’m grateful to Legal Cheek for helping to publicise it. I have no complaint about the new date in principle, but the lack of communication from the Bar Council is an issue.


Atticus Pinch

Pick your battles. This is a non-starter.


Not Amused

While I, genuinely, sympathise with all of the young people concerned, I still think it is important that the Bar Council retains its reputation for outstanding achievement in the field of incompetence.

It would be entirely wrong, if, through some fluke at the beginning, young people were erroneously led to believe that this, or indeed any, legal regulator had the slightest clue of what its arse or elbow were for or indeed where they were located.



I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but this is what life at the Bar is like. 6 months notice is more than enough time to allow students to organise their applications. As for GDL students, a deadline in late Jan/early feb isn’t going to make a big difference, with the original deadline being in April anyway.



I think the author is worried that she won’t be able to attend interviews whilst she’s at Harvard.



Lol it will be impossible for her to travel to the UK for interviews during LLM exams. Poor girl.


Craig David

I’m a bit confused by the fact that someone at a law school is complaining on behalf of students not at law school. Seems a bit counter-intuitive.

In addition, surely the actual complaint is that the changes do not go far enough. There is still the issue of the sets outside of Gateway making offers in mid-February and this short-changes applicants since they may feel compelled to take an offer long before a Gateway set is ever able to make an offer. This not only leaves candidates potentially unable to apply to Gateway sets having felt unable to take the risk of declining an earlier set but also leaves chambers in the Gateway with a field devoid of these applicants.

Scrap the Gateway or unify the offer timetable. This new system is a useless hybrid


Ollie Trumpington

I agree, its time to ree-ee-wind the system


A Nonny Mouse

Given the technical issues experienced with the pupillage gateway on years where there has not been a fundamental change to the process, I shudder to think what kind of offering is going to confront applicants in January next year, particularly with a shortened IT Service Delivery life-cycle. In fact, I wonder whether the decision makers have even consulted their IT service provider to check that they can deliver the required changes within the timescale?



Those sort of details should be variables in the code, or within a preferences file – if they are hard-coded into the solution someone has made a bit of a mess.



Those sort of details should be variables in the code, or within a preferences file – if they are hard-coded into the solution someone has made a bit of a mess.



Hmm, echo in here!?


Quo Vadis

Well it’s a way to get another line on your CV, I suppose.


A Barrister

After you have whined at Amy for her article from the perspective of a law student. You’ll be delighted to know that the Bar Council hasn’t asked Chambers what we want….



Sheesh. How is six months not enough time? I also don’t understand how changing the timetable with 6 months notice would disadvantage those at lesser well known universities.

This change may, however, disadvantage a student currently studying in the US who would prefer pupillage interviews over the summer rather than during LLM exams. Logistically it will be difficult for such a student to travel to the UK for interviews during exams. You have my sympathy. If only you were more honest about your concerns.



It’s ridiculous that the Bar Council haven’t provided details of the new deadline in a way that everyone can access.

Many thanks Amy for being so civically minded and passing this information on to those of us at a university with less insider knowledge. If you hadn’t raised this issue who knows when we would have found out. I now have 6 months notice thanks to you and LC.

Don’t let the negative comments put you off. The one that imply that you have some kind of personal agenda (rather than just a general concern for fair access to knowledge for all) say more about the personality of the comment-maker than they do about you. Several of the anonymous ones stink of Bar Council cronies trying to bully you when they would be better off spending the time updating their own website.


Comments are closed.