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Pupillage Gateway moved to January so students know if they have chambers place before committing to BPTC

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Exclusive: Finally, a move to protect wannabe barristers

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The Bar Council has this morning confirmed rumours that the centralised pupillage application system is to be brought forward from April to January as of next year.

The move means that students will know if they have secured a pupillage before committing to the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), the extremely pricey vocational training year which wannabe barristers must undertake.

The deadline for acceptance of places on the BPTC — which costs around £18,000 at London providers — is in April.

Credit goes to Open University law graduate Amy Woolfson, who is currently doing an LLM at Harvard Law School, for securing the scoop after giving the Bar Council a nudge on Twitter.

With pupillage places slipping below the 400 mark for the first time in living memory — just 397 first-six places were offered in 2013-14, with 1,565 candidates enrolling on the BPTC that year — it’s welcome news that students are to be given more opportunity to gauge their chances of success before committing to the course.

But it’s worth noting that strong candidates often have their BPTC fees subsidised by an annual £5 million pot of scholarship money awarded by the Inns of Court. The deadline for BPTC scholarship applications is the first Friday of November each year, with offers typically made in late March. Information about applying is available here.

This morning Woolfson, who is planning to apply for pupillage in 2016, praised the decision to bring forward the Pupillage Gateway, but lamented the lack of notice being given to wannabe barristers about it, telling Legal Cheek:

I applaud what the Bar Council is trying to do here. But it’s crazy that applicants are being given just six months notice of the change. It’s the less well connected students who risk losing out. If you are not currently at law school, who is going to tell you about it, and when? The Bar Council should think seriously about how it communicates with prospective applicants in future.

Further reading

8 things you need to know before applying for an Inns of Court scholarship [Legal Cheek Careers]