Inns of Court unveil country’s cheapest barrister training course

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Charity applying for sign-off on £13,000 course in major bar training shake-up

The venerable Inns of Court have come crashing back onto the bar training scene with what would be the country’s cheapest route to qualification as a barrister.

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) has applied for permission to deliver a new training course for barristers priced at £13,000 in total. That’s lower than any current provider of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and around 30% lower than any of the London-based BPTCs.

Regulators are shaking up the BPTC in a bid to make training to become a barrister more affordable. The new system — which is being phased in over the next couple of years — will allow providers to split the BPTC into two parts.

The ICCA is going down the two-part route with what it calls the Bar Course. Wannabe barristers would pay just £1,575 for the first 12-16 week part of the course, covering civil/alternative dispute resolution and criminal assessments, with the option to bail out at that point if it’s not for them. The 20-week second part would cost £11,520 and cover practical skills, pupillage preparation and a career at the bar. Part one can be done remotely and flexibly, while part two would be delivered at the Inns of Court in London.

The 2019 BPTC Most List

The Bar Standards Board will need to approve the set-up first. The ICCA has put in its formal application to the regulator and hopes to run its first Bar Course from autumn 2020, with students able to apply from later this year.

The ICCA is a not-for-profit education and training organisation connected to the four ancient Inns of Court — Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn — of which all barristers in England and Wales must be members. ICCA dean James Wakefield is among the speakers at the Legal Cheek Future of Legal Education and Training Conference 2019, which takes place at Kings Place London on 22 May.

ICCA chief Derek Wood QC said: “We are delighted to be announcing this new Bar Course, which will provide students with greater flexibility, high standards of teaching and less financial commitment upfront. The course will be offered on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis and will cost around 30 percent less than London BPTCs presently on offer”.

Meanwhile, the Bar Standards Board is pressing ahead with other changes to the bar training regime. The minimum pupillage award will increase from 1 September 2019, and the regulator announced this week that it wants written agreements between chambers and their pupils to be mandatory.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List




No Inn money should be spent on for-profit, private equity owned course providers.


Unpopular opinion poof

The Bar never needed more than the Inns of Court School of Law.



And even that was 50% padding. All that was needed was a 3-4 month course at most.


Presumably at the subterranean Ashworth Centre, Lincoln’s Inn?


What a disgrace. Months and months of disruption in London Lincoln’s Inn so that the Inns could provide education that is not needed in an over supplied market.


First world problems


It is a first world place. But you keep yourself happy typing out cliché after cliché.

T May

I’ll see to that! Haha!


First world place. So what is your point, if you have one.


My point is you should fuck off


You forgot the full stop. Angry and thick. Nice combo.


Are you a failed barrister turned BPTC lecturer per chance?

Everyone other than you guys thinks this was badly needed.

Aside from the astronomical fees, the quality of teaching on the current BPTC is shockingly bad.

Good riddance private equity and failed barristers.


So everyone who completed the BPTC prior to the first cohort of ICCA barristers should go fuck themselves? Thanks a lot.


How on earth did you get that from the above comment?


No, I’m a real barrister who makes more than you.


This course will most likely be taught by lecturers recruited from other institutions.

I am all in favour of a cheaper course, but the suggestion that practitioners will take every Thursday to teach cross examination is unrealistic.


They did 25 years ago. They got paid for pitching up for a 6pm PTX, but it wasn’t a fortune. People will often do things in their free time if they can see a point to it. I’d spend some of my free time teaching students handy things I’ve learned if I thought they’d actually ever use what I was teaching them. Knowing that 70% of them will not get pupillage is pretty demotivating in terms of encouraging people to give up their free time to teach skills they know those they are teaching will never get to use.


Well this is all a damp squib isn’t it? For years we’ve been sold the idea that the Inns would sweep in on their chargers and save us from the avaricious claws of providers. When Derek Wood wrote about this in Counsel in 2017 he stated the maximum fee would be £10,000. Now we have a course c £1500 cheaper than Northumbria (which if living costs are factored in means it will cost more). It’s also not clear whether these fees include things such as the White Book which will be needed for the open book assessment.
In reality the headline 30% less than other providers figure is misleading because it’s comparing apples and oranges. The current fees for providers are for the current model of BPTC which mandates face to face delivery of the knowledge subjects and 6 weeks of options – there is approximately 60% less face to face teaching but this isn’t reflected in the cost. Pound for pound this is a much more expensive course. I’d be astonished if ULaw and BPP hadn’t been planning some form of ‘stripped back’ course for 2020 and I suspect they’d been planning to charge much less than this (they don’t need to do this now due to ICCAs eagerness to show off their homework).
There’s a big problem here- undoubtedly this course will be marketed as ‘an elite’ course and will follow a similar marketing strategy to Kaplan – a limited number of places will available and priority will be given in the early years to Oxbridge graduates who already have pupillages. Kaplan traded successfully on this basis despite the fact they were simply delivering another providers materials. However now we are in the position that the organisation which is financially invested in a provider is also responsible for distributing scholarships. This is a significant conflict of interest and the Inns need to do more to explain how it will be addressed.

This is a missed opportunity. Ultimately we have a BPTC, being delivered by BPTC tutors which is very marginally cheaper. The Inns money would have been better spent on more scholarships or funding more pupillages.

Benny Goodman

I don’t think anyone is saying the new course is providing something for nothing. It is clear about its differences with existing BPTC courses and prices those differences at a £5-6,000 discount – that is not an insignificant sum. Also, the course will focus on taking applicants likely to obtain (or who have already obtained?) pupillage. For anyone who thinks the bar training course is simply something to do before pupillage, it is a bit difficult to see why this isn’t a sensible development.


BPTC courses aside, may I say how much I respected your skill and scope as a musician and band leader. ‘Benny Goodman Live at Carnegie Hall’ is one of the great recordings.

That you’re posting from beyond the grave on Legal Cheek about barristers’ training is, perhaps, the greatest testament of all to your range and versatility. Good on you sir!

Benny Goodman

Thank you sir, happy to hear you enjoyed the concert. Nice to hear swing is catching on in Europe.


I note you didn’t quote more from the press release which is already doing the rounds on other sites. Some of the missing highlights:

‘Designed by educational professionals and legal practitioners’ = every single person working there used to work at one of the existing BPTC providers immediately prior. But I suppose the spin sounds better.

‘Cutting edge technology’ = they are putting stuff online. Really? I mean come on, that’s not cutting edge. For the Bar, perhaps.

Man with an opinion

The real question is whether chambers and the wider legal sector take this new route to qualification seriously or just use it as a marker for applicants from less privileged backgrounds?


Isn’t their accent, suit and shoes not enough of a marker?


And names. The Kevins, Callums, Hannahs, etc.


chambers will not give a hoot. nobody cares about the BPTC currently so why would this be any different.


Great – even more BPTC graduates for pupillages that aren’t.


Brothers! Sisters!

We need a windfall tax on city greed to pay for legal aid!

Legal aid barristers should be paid the same as doctors! And the law firms can pay for it!



I quite like less of my taxes being spent on criminals, thank you very much.


But fatties and druggos getting NHS treatment is fine?


Good to see the Bar implementing well thought out and sensible changes. The SRA could learn a lot from the BSB


Not really as it was the BSB who created the current mess and the course is still far too expensive. In 1994 (before the BSB existed), the ICSL provided the full course (not a cut down version) for £4,000. Even allowing for 25 years of inflation the full course should be no more than £10,000 on a not for profit basis. Remove the right of private companies to run it and cap the course fees at £10k, reversing all the changes the BSB has made and restoring things to how they were before the BSB stuck its oar in. If the Bar Council could organise provision of the course for £8k (in todays money) 25 years ago, there is no logical explanation as to why the BSB cannot do the same now.


This comment demonstrates what’s wrong with the debate on professional training for the Bar. There are plenty of well meaning Barristers who have little knowledge of education, the course they did or any of the changes that have taken place.

(a) The content of the 1994 Bar Exams is a mere fraction of the current BPTC

(b) Why should the cost of the course be no more than £10k on a not for profit basis? Do you have any idea how much it takes to run the course or is the number pulled out of thin air? That the Inns are unable to run it for £10k on a not for profit basis seems not to deter your point

(c) Only 2 of the 8 providers are privately owned. Compare the ones in London and the ones outside and you’ll see virtually no difference between the course fees of private vs non.

(d) Presumably you object to all private education? School, other professions? CPD? Let’s nationalise Sweet and Maxwell, comrades!!

(e) The changes to the legal education for the bar began long before the BSB came to life

(f) The 1994 course was a series of lectures and essay based exams. There was virtually no vocational training which as you might be aware, can’t be delivered in lectures but in tiny groups to be effective. The Inns are providing lectures online for knowledge recall exams for just over £1k. That it cost about £8k (in today’s money) 25 years ago is the scandal. And not a private provider in sight.


Thanks. But I do remember the course I did. It was one acedemic year with 25 hours contact time per week. It was assessed by PTXs weekly provided by practising barristers and was course work based. I had about 5 lectures and 3 small group seminars per week. Nice try to justify the change to teaching the course mainly by the use of full time failed barristers rather than volunteer practising ones and the resulting increased cost of their salaries. The BVC had more contact time, lecture and seminar time than the current BPTC and with only 900 places did not benefit from the economics of scale. Nothing you have said explains why the course is 120% more expensive than the BVC.


I think what both of you are missing is that, for profit or not for profit, cheap or expensive, private or not private, way too fucking many people are undertaking the BPTC, and there isn’t anywhere for 60% of them to go. That has to stop.

Reduce the number of BPTC entrants by introducing more stringent entry requirements and a lower intake cap, sharpen up the content of the course, and do something to encourage chambers to take on more pupils. I shouldn’t be hearing about BPTC grads working as waitresses and in McDonald’s, but I am, and it’s disgraceful.


Reducing the numbers is a must.

Sharpen course content? By doing what? The Bar talks of this all the time without any specifics. The current course has plenty of crap but little agreement as to what the changes should be.


The litigation modules should not be a matter of swallowing the White Book and Blackstone’s, which at the moment they are.

Advocacy and conference classes need to be more frequent and more intensive.

There needs to be more substantial guidance from the BSB on matters of professional ethics.

Perhaps the course should be split into criminal and civil streams, so that those seeking to practise at one end need not pointlessly learn about matters concerning the other.

Courses which would allow for easily segueing into practice as a solicitor should be introduced as optional modules (i.e. some of the modules found on the LPC).

Above all else, the administration of the course at all the providers is shambolic. During my BPTC and in the years following, I have read so many times of providers making ridiculous errors that should not be happening on a course costing as much as 19 thousand pounds.


Advocacy and conference classes? What dross! Any value in “teaching” that stuff is marginal at best. Training should be black letter procedure, ethics and that’s it.


Bollocks. Other than mooting at university – for law students – there’s nowhere else to learn how to present an argument orally or to examine witnesses, within the rules and procedures of court.

Barristers love to denigrate the bar course but very few will ever admit what clueless know-nothings they were at the start of practice and how much they relied on bar school training.

Pupillage is all well and good but being shouted at by some grumpy supervisor with a string of failed marriages, a gambling problem and an ulcer has its limits as a means of learning.


I learned nothing about the soft skills on the Bar Course that was of any use whatsoever. If someone is unable to present an argument in writing or on their feet before that stage they are going for the wrong job.


Fair point, but that is a different issue. When I did the BVC in 1994 there were 900 odd places, 800 odd pupillages but only about 200 tenancies a year. As not everyone on the course intended to practise pretty much everyone on the course got pupillage. However, although everyone in my tutorial group of 10 got pupillage only 3 of us actually had became practising barristers as the drop out point was tenancy rather than pupillage. The number of tenancies on offer has not really changed. Then as now most people who did the course who not make it into practice. The course should therefore be as cheap as possible as it is quite wrong to be fleecing people for a course which both 25 years ago and today (but for different reasons) will not actually lead to a job for the vast majority of them.


This hits the nail on the head. For years there was no complaint about the course because of the number of unfunded pupillages. Chambers took on pupils for free, allowed them to build up debt and then chucked them out at the end. There was very little outcry about this. It was only when unfunded pupillages were abolished that the bottleneck in people dropping out moved from the end of pupillage to the end of the bar course.


However reducing the numbers will not address the problem of diversity. Many candidates from non-oxbridge backgrounds are successful at getting pupillage after completing the BPTC. Clearly a more long term solution is needed and a shift in attitude.


What is “the problem of diversity”? Oxbridge recruit the best as a general rule sowhy should I worry about non-Oxbridge appicants?


In 1994 the course was the BVC. I undertook it and passed. It was not easy and there was a considerable amount of those matters which you believe did not take place taught and learned. Do your research better. If you are referring to 1984 you would of course be absolutely correct.


The 1994 BVC had nothing like the course content of the current BPTC. The minimum number of hours of advocacy tuition and number of assessments were a fraction of today’s course.

Civil, Crime and Ethics were not assessed by way of centrally set exams, rather than one created by those who taught which just happened to reflect their teaching / exclude the stuff people found difficult.

Ah the ‘Failed Barrister’ line. Of course we all remember the Silks and distinguished Senior Juniors who were excellent teachers that ‘popped in’ on a voluntary basis in 1994. What? That’s not how it was? It was people with a piss poor practice who were available at short notice? Many of who went on to fail. I mean do it full-time.


Even if you are correct, whats the point of it having better content if 90% of those who do it will never qualify? Why not cut the content down, make it cheaper and teach those aspects in pupillage.

Granny Grammar

“Many of who went on to fail.“

It’s “Many of WHOM went on to fail.”

Deary me!


Within that sentence, Granny, the failures are the subject not the object. I believe ‘who’ is correct.


The BSB didn’t exist until 2006, by which point the cost of training for the Bar had already ballooned massively. Adjusting for inflation, the cost of the BPTC in London in 2005/06 was already around £15,000 (see Annex 3 of this), so the massive inflation in the cost of the course doesn’t seem particularly related to the actions of the BSB.



Oh I don’t know about your calculations and estimates. I took the BVC in 1996 and it was just over £7K. So by my calculations it’s not so bad now if the fees were hiked an extraordinary £3K in just two years.
….but we digress….


If you have a look at his link, it was £3,980 in 94-95 and then went up to £5,720 in 96-97. Take your point that you wouldn’t expect it to stand still over 25 years, but that is still a 477% increase in the costs of the course. In 94-95 virtually everyone got pupillage and today it’s probably more like 30%.

Even if the course is better (which I’m not too sure about), its not better to be charging more money to teach skills which will never be used. It would be a better course if it was cheaper and advocacy and practicle skills were assessed by day release during 1st Six pupillage. Nobody will use those skills unless they reach 2nd Six. It isn’t better to hike up the price to teach skills nobody will ever benefit from learning at that stage.


So this means that most wannabe barristers (who of course will not get a pupillage or have a career at the bar) will now be wasting £13,000 instead of c. £18,000.

I guess that’s an improvement…


The new plan sounds superb. Finally a course designed to test and TEACH. 12-16 Weeks for Civil, ADR and Crime is perfect because that is exactly the amount of time one requires to prepare those and be ready to sit the exam.
Practical after theory is a great idea for the course instead of no pattern at all, in the exam scheme. Similar pattern is used in aviation industry.
Law is a diverse field and during the training course one should be allowed to focus on a single aspect of the profession more than others at a given time, instead of creating a benefit-less amalgam of confusion and panic among students.
You are all whining because you are all either teachers, staff and/or paid-for influencers.


I am whining because I am one of the poor fuckers who completed the current rigid, irrelevant, badly managed and overpriced BPTC. They can make changes to the structure and content of the course all they want, whilst avoiding the elephant in the room – the number of people on the course is grossly disproportionate to the number of pupillages on offer.

I would have rather been refused an offer of admission and never done the BPTC in the first place than end up in this weird and shit limbo.


“I would have rather been refused an offer of admission and never done the BPTC in the first place than end up in this weird and shit limbo.”

You surely knew before you spent the time and money that it was a big gamble – both in getting a pupillage and then being offered tenancy.

If you didn’t know, you are too stupid for the Bar anyway.

No one forced you to take the BPTC. No one owes you anything.


Only true to an extent. If you have a desmond and no mooting, debating or work experience then it is rather your own fault. But that isn’t the typical bar school student. If you have a 2.1 from a decent uni and reasonable experience then you may well get pupillage or you may not. There is no way to know until you try. That puts viable applicants in a very difficult position. Why not just allow people to apply for pupillage pre Bar School and Chambers make offers conditional upon passing Bar School? No skin of chambers noses and students do not have to take a massive gamble. No limit on the number of places offered, but a pupillage offer is a condition of entry. Whats not to like?


When an Inn hands you a scholarship, and in particular, a full-fee scholarship, it motivates you to undertake the BPTC. You are led to believe that as the Inn has put 19 thousand pounds of faith in you, you stand a good chance of obtaining pupillage. That is the situation I found myself in.

It’s not the gamble in itself that is the problem. It’s the extent to which parties in and surrounding this process are not making the difficulty of acquiring pupillage clear. The matter is reaching such severe levels that I genuinely believe the Inns and BPTC providers are acting irresponsibility in funnelling more and more students into the process, year after year.


The numbers of people on the course and the number of pupillages available is made puplic and is findable by a quick google search, so I don’t think anyone can really say they didn’t know how very few students get pupillage.

It hasn’t been well reported in the article, but the Inns course is broken into 2 parts. Stage 1 costs £1,000 and is an internet course covering only the Civil & Criminal Lit and ethics modules. They say allow 3-4 months to do it as its expected you will be doing it part-time whist working. No need however to incure the living costs of being in London or commit to the full course. Stage 2 (the practicle skills part) is £12,000 and a full time course. But you do not need to move to London or comitt to Stage 2 unless or until you have pupillage.

Saying the course is only £5k cheaper is a bit misleading therefore. For the majority who do not get pupillage the course is £18k cheaper with no living costs. For those that do get pupillage it is £5k cheaper.

That does seem a significant improvment.



It doesn’t matter how well you did beforehand or what an inn panel or other scholarship awarder might think of you, you still have no entitlement to pupillage.

You may have given yourself a better chance by securing a scholarship, and it might be that your academics are excellent, but none of this is any guarantee of being taken on as a pupil.

And if you got a full scholarship you’ve lost no money.

To be honest, you sound as though you believe you have a *right* to practise at the bar.

You could hardly have missed the numbers of BPTC students v pupillages. Apart from all the easily accessible information, if your course was anything like mine the odds against pupillage was the usual topic of conversation among the students.


12-16 weeks? How about 12-16 days. These things are a piece of cake. If you need 4 months you should be thinking about other career options.


I see from the comments on LC that BPTC tutors at current providers are trying to cling on to their scam courses.

Once the Inns have their own BPTC, everyone with prospects of securing pupillage will do the Inns’ BPTC. And all the failures will go to private equity run providers.


Couple of points:

a. The content of the other BPTCs are the same. How one is a scam when the other isn’t has passed me by. It’s going to be taught by the same ‘failed Barristers’. Indeed it’s being written by the same ‘failed Barristers’.

b. Not everyone will want to come to London for 20 weeks. Nor will they have enough places for everyone who gets pupillage.


Since it is about 450 to 500 people getting pupillage each year, one course provider is really all that is needed.


I’ll be perfectly honest – I used to sh*t the bed as a child. Now I own a Porsche.


I sh*t the bed now, and it can be jolly good fun too. But experience has told me you are better to warn the other person first in case they are less open minded.


Why the hate for the profit-making providers?

As has been said, nothing will be different about the course and staff at ICCA. And the other providers will soon offer a similarly priced option for a split course part of which will be supplied as distance learning.

If they don’t use full-time lecturers it will be disastrous. Barristers who turn their hand now and again to a bit of teaching are generally rubbish at it. All the inns’ courses I’ve been on have been amateurish.

This is much like the dining requirement. The inns are keen to keep that because it lures in the young and naive by giving them a chance to dress up and play at being barristers. Offering teaching in an air raid shelter under the dreariest of the inns is just another way to gull the hopeful.


Because it is a captive market. It isn’t like smarties, westlaw, the playstation store or any other private enterprise you care to name. It is a course you are forced to do, but will not actually provide you with anything. Whether you make it or don’t has nothing to do with how good or bad the course may be. It’s all to do with whether you get pupillage.

Medical education isn’t provided by private companies, its provided by teaching hospitals as part of the NHS. As a result you don’t have wanna be doctors shelling out £19k for a course which qualifies them to do nothing and then posting on Medical Cheek complaining that they completed year 4 of medical school and cannot treat so much as a sprained finger because they can’t bag an F1 position.


All true. But that’s not a reason to prefer the inns’ course over anyone else’s.


It might be if only the Inns were allowed to offer the course, bringing the number of places in sync with the number of pupillages. It might also raise the standards of teaching on the course as the demand for Bar School teachers would also be reduced by about 70%. That is afterall how teaching hospitals do it. You can coast in a district hospital, but you have to be bloody good to be accepted at a teaching hospital. If the demand for qualified doctors is low, the number of places at medical school is reduced. If it goes up, the places are increased. Medical Schools only offer the same number of places as there are F1 positions. So you do not have the absurd position where people put in 4 years of time and money, but can’t qualify.


There’s no mileage in comparisons with medicine. Everything about the training, state supply and employment, career paths, regulation, reliance on technology and resource etc etc is different.

I do agree about the wisdom of capping numbers on the BPTC. A simple formula could be the number of the previous year’s pupillages plus 10%.

But that would require legislative change. For now, the BSB has competition obligations under the LSA.

As things stand, for the last 20 years anyone taking the BVC/BPTC has known, or should have known, they were in a long odds game, in a field of runners way, way bigger than the number of prizes.

And none of this could exclude the later risk of not getting tenancy.


Don’t disagree that it’s not a perfect comparision. A Consultant is paid to train an F1 and the F1 is paid by the govenment to be trained. Supervisors are not paid to train pupils and to boot they have to pay for the pupil to be trained. So unsurprisingly it is easier to persaude Consultants to be paid to train F1s than it is to persaude Supervisors to pay themselves to train pupils.

But, both professions have a 5 year training peroid which in both cases involves 4 years study and then 1 year doing the job under the supervision of a senior barrister / doctor. The difference is that Bar has got itself into thinking that you can separate years 4 and 5. You can’t. One is not good without the other. There is nothing to stop the Bar adopting the same model and only accepting the same number of students to stage 4 as there are pupillages at stage 5.

Can’t agree with you on the Competition argument. There is no need to restrict the number of places (which could cause competition problems). Make an infinate number of places available, but break it into 2 stages. Stage 1 is the black letter law and all students who want to do that pay (say) £5,000. Stage 2 is taught and passed during pupillage. That why students only pay to learn practicle skills at the point the have pupillage.

The current system only lines the pockets of those who provide unneeded training. Everyone is charged £13 – £19k to train in those skills they do not need for another 18 months. No drop in quality occours if the BPTC staff are only paid for delivering the practicle elements to those who got pupillage and need it. It would save the 70% of those who do not get pupillage from paying to learn skills they will never use however.


lol – dreariest of Inns… good one mate


Cost aside, the point of the bar course is to prepare you for pupillage/tenancy.

The current bar course does nothing of the sort.

And that fact is missed by most involved in arranging/organising the course. The tutors aren’t bad (many are excellent) but the entire thing is a waste of time, frankly.

Let’s hope the new course actually teaches future pupils the things they need to know.


What do they need to know that the BPTC doesn’t cover?


The real issue that needs to be addressed is ‘when will we get a different stock photo to accompany stories about law students?’


Is there any evidence that all this pseudo-education in soft skills produces better barristers? I can’t see the point of it. The best thing to do for diversity would be to accept most of this nonsense they teach is just padding and let people start pupillage after they have studied procedure and professional conduct all of which could easily be learned online or from texts in three months.


No. But it is better to load up the debt of students with useless teaching and then talk about diversity while doing nothing other than pushing for positive discrimination in favour of women.


There are rumours that a the Inns will be teaching wellbeing as part of the new BPTC.

About time!

Nervous Breakdown



Yoga. A little time management. Some pilates. Peppermint tea. And done.

Nervous shakedown

No, no, no, no!!

We absolutely need a wellbeing working group comprising of (ahem) high ranking counsel, with first hand experience of losing their marbles..

AND a dedicated BPTC exam consisting MCQs and SAQs …

… To test you on yoga, time management, pilates and peppermint tea

Nervous takedown

Do you get a “wellbeing certificate”??


Only if you are happy to attend enough seminars given by smug self-satisfied silks from a comfortable privileged backgrounds patronising you about meditation and time management.


Inns taking back control!


A little story about 1994 for you, as it has received some air time above.

I was there, and I believe this to be true…

The ICSL restricted the cohort to the number of available pupillages.

You applied in the March before the late September start date and got your offer a relatively short time after.

The funny thing was that you had to show commitment to the profession on your application form. My head of sixth form in my comp got me a week’s experience with her criminal solicitor husband , for instance, and I had done two mini pupillages after that, plus mooted at university and been on the law student events committee (as one desperately tried to do). So some good stuff, some low hanging fruit, and my application got the nod.

Anyroad, a significant number of barristers chambers recruit their pupils between July and September don’t they ?

Laugh out loud because a number of pupils did not get places on the ICSL course, with this one off application process being tried. (It was as if the ICSL staff and the pupillage committee were assessing different criteria…)

Cry, when you are walking round the ICSL just as term starts and you hear the news that the ICSL have been threatened with judicial review. They had tried to stick to their guns of maintaining that the application decision had already been made before the pupillage interview results. The intake would be approx 1000 again, not 750 or so, and, in those days, the best pupillages happened to go to those who had paid the most towards their schooling.

As I say, I was there. I have never heard mention of this officially, and i may be mistaken, but i do remember the moment i was conscious that that threat of judicial review and its results had probably changed my life.

I even remember seeing a famous surname among the students and being aware that he or she had got a 2.2 from a well known university and wondering whether their well known relative had had the idea of putting the challenge in. Was it so and so, I wondered, who was behind the challenge ?


Still, I’d go with the judgment of Chambers over the views of anyone at ICSL and their box-filling ideas.


And there was slightly more to it. If you remember the CIT cock-up. I got in, my flat mate didn’t. They said he’d failed the CIT with a score of 32%. Bear in mind it was a 4 question multiple choice so the monkey with a stick would be expected to score 25%. So he knew that couldn’t be right. We also had to provide our Equal Opps forms with a code for our race, 30 for white, 31 for black, 32 for Irish etc. Turned out some muppet had typed his ethnic monitoring code in by accident as his test score. Had he ticked Prefer not to say, with a code of 100, they’d have recorded him as passing with a perfect score. I wouldn’t trust any of them after that.

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