Research: A third of BPTC graduates secure pupillage

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A hazy glimmer of hope for those chasing a career at the bar


New research has revealed a third of wannabe lawyers who study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) secure pupillages.

The statistics, published today by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), show that 35% of all UK/EU domiciled grads that started the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in the academic years commencing in 2011-2013 have gone on to gain pupillage.

The 35% figure may be disheartening for wannabe barristers when you factor in training costs that recently topped the £19,000 mark at some London providers. But the figure is marginally better when compared with older stats from Legal Cheek. Just a few months ago, Legal Cheek reported that BPP Law School’s London branch, the most successful BPTC provider in terms of its grads progressing to the bar, had a figure of 27%. Northumbria came in right at the bottom with a pretty dismal 3%.

The one third securing pupillages is despite just 11% of all BPTC who enrolled on the course between 2012 and 2014 doing really well in it, achieving an “outstanding”. The overall BPTC pass rate is 72%.

The BSB also concludes from its research that success in the hunt for the elusive pupillage hinges more on the BPTC result than undergraduate degree performance. A high score on the BPTC’s admission’s test, the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT), is also a “strong indicator” of a given student’s chance of success in finding pupillage. Earlier this year the BSB revealed that the pass mark for the entry exam would be raised as of 2017 to “exclude” weaker candidates.

On the diversity front, the report shows that the number of women progressing to a career at the bar is similar to men; 47% of pupillages were awarded to women. It must be borne in mind that more women are enrolling on the BPTC in the first place, which may suggest that men have a greater chance of success. It’s also speculated that white aspiring barristers are more successful in finding pupillages than black ethnic minority (BME) candidates, but “more research is needed to determine whether and, if so, why this may be the case”.

The director of education and training at the BSB, Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, commented:

We hope that the publication of today’s statistics will help students considering a career at the bar to make a fully informed decision about their chances of success. However, when considering these statistics, I urge people not to look at any one factor or chart in isolation. There are many variables in play, and we intend our report to be considered in its entirety.

Read the report in full