Revealed: Nearly 60% of rookie barristers did their undergraduate degree at Oxbridge

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By Alex Aldridge on

The 2016-17 Chambers Most List — released today — makes for sobering reading for wannabe lawyers at lesser unis


If you didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge, you face an uphill struggle to become a barrister.

That’s one of the standout messages from the 2016-17 Chambers Most List as it goes live today. Legal Cheek’s annual survey of the top barristers’ sets in the land reveals that a staggering 59% of new tenants did their undergraduate degree at Oxbridge.

To put this in context, consider that out of the 24,000 students who accepted an offer to study law at a higher education institute last year, only about 400 went to Oxford or Cambridge — which offered, respectively, 195 and 207 first year places.

Our study considered the educational background of the five newest tenants at 50 of the leading chambers in the country. And it showed the Oxbridge obsession to go beyond undergraduate degrees. When rookie barristers’ postgraduate education is taken into account as well, close to 80% of them have one of our nation’s premier duo of universities on their CV.

There are, happily, some exceptions to the rule, with 15 chambers having more junior barristers with non-Oxbridge undergraduate degrees than alumni of good old Cantab or Oxon.

So which top chambers are most and least Oxbridge dominated? Here are some graphics to illustrate:

Most Oxbridge undergrads


Least Oxbridge undergrads


The full list is here, under ‘Most Oxbridge Educated New Tenants’.

The definitive guide to the top sets in England & Wales [Chambers Most List 2016-17]