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Pupil barrister pay rises of up to 50% to come into force this week

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£18,436 in London and £15,728 elsewhere

Increases to pupillage awards across England and Wales will come into effect on Sunday, with some rookie barristers set for a 50% boost in earnings.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) revealed last summer that financial awards for all pupillages starting on or after 1 September 2019 will be £18,436 in London and £15,728 elsewhere. This equates to boosts of up to 50% on the current minimum of £12,000.

The move brings rookie barrister pay in line with salaries recommended by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF), an independent organisation that promotes fair pay across the UK. It currently recommends that a person over 18 and working should earn at least £10.55 per hour in London and £9 outside the capital.

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In what will come as welcome news to those finding their feet at the bar, the BSB also confirmed pupillage awards will be increased at the start of each year, following the publication of the LWF recommended hourly rate for the year ahead. The first increase will be in January 2020.

Addressing concerns at the time that the pay rises could lead to a reduction in pupillage numbers, particularly among cash-strapped criminal sets, a spokesperson for the BSB said:

“Two thirds of chambers already ensure that their pupils receive more than the minimum award we are setting, but we will keep the impact under careful review particularly in relation to the number of pupillages available.”

The new pupillage rates come into effect this Sunday.

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52 Comments

Oh Deer

Step right up folks – that £18,436 is REALLY going to show those bullies at school what they are missing out on!

(30)(1)

Anonymous

I suppose making £300k the following year might though. When solicitors are still on training salaries….

(4)(3)

Anonymous

Stop feeding the myth the Course Providers use to bilk money from students! Barrister do not earn anything like that:-

https://www.thelawyer.com/barrister-salary

After VAT and trading expenses profits were:-

Under £20,000 : 16%
£20,000 to £40,000 : 19%
£40,000 to £60,000 : 19%
£60,000 to £100,000 : 22%
£100,00 to £160,000 : 11%
Over £160,000 : 16%.

76% of barristers (and thats all barristers not just junior ones) make a profit of £100k or less.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Even on your own figures, the number is 27%. But in the commercial sets £300k in the first few years is not that uncommon.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

They are not my figures, they are the BSB’s taken from the PC renewal submissions. 16 + 19 + 19 + 22 = 76. It is not 27. Since only 16% of all barristers turned over a gross of £240k or more you are talking complete crap to say earnings of over £300k are not uncommon. Do learn to read. You might also want to learn to add.

Anonymous

They cannot be taken from PC renewal figures and state what you claim. PC renewal asks only what your gross turnover less vat is. They don’t know rent or other expenses. They certainly don’t ask for net profit.

Anonymous

I was not saying earnings over £300k are not uncommon. I said earnings over £300k are not uncommon in the first 2 or 3 years in commercial sets. After that in the commercial world almost everyone is on much more. You can not compare city solicitors with provincial publicly funded counsel.

Anonymous

True, but 49% are making over 60k…

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Equates to £1340 take home pay each month. £1186 outside civilisation.

(7)(9)

Anon

It’s tax free you muppet

(8)(3)

Anonymous

It isn’t.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Yes it is. First six anyway.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

First six = tax free
Second six = below threshold

Anonymous

Plus you can usually take a chunk of pupillage award cash the year before and move it off tax that way.

Simon

Why so little coin?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Because you are not working or billing anything. Welcome to self-employment.

(11)(0)

Kirkland NQ

Not even enough to service the lambo.

(6)(2)

barrister lad

Apples and Oranges my friend. What is an NQ on at K&E??? £150K.

Juniors in chambers at your stage equivalent (2 years on feet) will be doing around £200k. Most people around 4 – 8 years should be doing £300 – £500k. If I don’t like a client, I drop them. If you are ranked in a decent area and have put in the long hours over first few years of practice, you wont be short of work.

Chances are you wont get anywhere near partnership and get pushed off to a west end firm. There, you can instruct me at £350 p/h (pretty reasonable). Obviously i’m not in chambers during August so dont ring. Also, don’t expect me to respond before 10am. If I can be bothered to commute in from my west country place, you can come and see me in chambers for a conference – but not Friday after 2pm, as I like to head off to the pub and do my best to pick up a date.

(26)(6)

Arab Yacht Lad

I live off family money and like sunbathing on my superyacht in Monaco.

Enjoy ‘work’, barrister lad.

(12)(4)

barrister lad

Ha. If that makes you feel better 🙂

Yep, there are a few like that in chambers, but billing £1500 a day over five days is not particularly difficult after a certain point. Practice areas like private client do not, on the whole, include outrageously demanding clients that require all night preparation on an urgent freezing injunction. Yes, sometimes this might happen but, more often, an instruction for an opinion come in with a 21 day turn around. We quote. I do the work where I like and we bill.

There is a reason why the chancery bar can be a very attractive place to work. As I said before, you work very hard for first 5-7 years. You get a little following and then you can take a more relaxed view.

(12)(0)

Also a barrister

Out of interest, how does one square dropping a client because you don’t like them with the cab rank rule, provided that they’re paying?

barrister lad

A little bit of poetic licence there… 😉

Another barrister

Barrister Lad’s posts initially seemed to be excellent exaggerated satire but on continued reading appear to be entirely sincere. Sad.

Slaughters NQ

Prestige. When I meet someone in my leisure time and I say “[My name], Slaughter and May, how do you do?” they immediately perk up. Nobody has heard of chambers.

(3)(8)

barrister lad

Ha, your joking right?

Thankfully, decent barristers don’t need to name drop a firm that they have just joined, in respect of which they have contributed precisely 0% to its success, to impress a random stranger.

As the majority of barristers will know, the BDE drips from our very pores so we don’t need to artificially boost our energy with references to our profession at the very start of an introduction. As barristers, when we walk into rooms to give the talks to the solicitors that have paid to hear us, do the seminars, give the closing submission etc…. that is enough. We will probably leave the talk, forgetting your name, but with the moderately attractive (probably married) junior associate colleague that you have fancied since you joined whatever firm you tried to impress me with 30 minutes ago …

(8)(1)

Arab Yacht Lad

You may have that pretty associate for 5 minutes, but she wouldn’t say ‘no’ to some fun on the 50 metre yacht with plenty of presents bought in St Tropez whilst you’re still having to read bundles.

Why do lawyers working in a service profession think they are top of the hierarchy?

barrister lad

Oh wait, you were being serious. I genuinely thought that you were suggesting that moi was some type of Yacht brat …. I didn’t think anyone would actually admit to being that type of guy

I’m sure you have an amazing time on Instagram telling everyone how much fun you are having. Maybe when you grow up you will realise that cash doesnt make the man, its the other way round 🙂

Peace

barrister lad

Top of hierarchy….?

Probably because every self described tin pot ‘big’ (yet small) man with a yacht sends his muppet of a son half way across the world to the same school as me in the hope that he can get into the same university as me so that maybe, one day, he can be proud of his son by working in the same profession as me.

City lawyer

That’s doesn’t equate with my experience at all. I could tell you stories about the time that during a vac scheme at a magic circle firm I slipped away to the disabled toilets with a just-married female senior associate for some fun. Or the time I received very enjoyable fellatio from a female partner in her office.

barrister lad

@ City lawyer.

Ha. Good lad

Anonymous

Another indication that the Bar’s qualification process is out of date. After forking out for a degree and possibly the GDL and BPTC (notwithstanding scholarships), having potentially spent five years in full-time education, anyone from a humbler background will struggle massively to survive on £18k, let alone the previous £12k.

(4)(4)

Chancery barrister on pupillage committee

Mate, its called self employment. If you want to run off and open an coffee shop or a tech start up, you either borrow the dosh or use savings. You should be bloody grateful that my 60 odd hour week pays for you to sit on your backside for another year basically studying and being untaught all the rubbish your learnt on the BPTC.

(19)(3)

Anonymous

Apples and oranges. When starting your own business, you are able to control much more freely the use of your resources. Training for the Bar is far less flexible – pay a set price for the degree, a set price for the BPTC, receive a set pupillage award.

(1)(0)

barrister lad

Yeah, you can sit in your mum’s conservatory in your underwear and go to networking sessions once a month and have no overheads… but for most people, the biggest risk they will take in life will be to jack in the job, throw their savings behind a dream and back themselves.

The only additional factor for the Bar (as opposed to any wage slave job) is the BPTC and, as far as I know, this is flexible to an extent. I’m pretty sure the Inns are offering a cheaper course and providers outside of London wont be charge top whack.

In short, you are paying £15-20k (which is still too much) to have a chance to be self employed and run your own business. In terms of risk/reward, is is that bad? Everyone bangs on about the dosh as an NQ but you can have that at the bar AND have one of the best jobs going. I have never met a successful, well paid barrister who hates their job. I’m sure there are loads of unhappy (successful) ones, I just havent met one.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

The BSB have recently announced that the course will be split into two parts, allowing students to pay by way of two installments, the second only becoming due once the student passes the first half of the course.

And it appears the course is getting more expensive outside of London. It’s £15k in Northumbria. £15k in Birmingham and Leeds. £16k in Cardiff. Even when the course is split, making two payments of at least £7.5k after uni is something most people will struggle to manage, especially when you consider that many of these people have their eyes on careers in criminal, family, and immigration law, i.e. fields in which practitioners only start to make decent money after a good few years. Saving the requisite sum of money as a fresh-faced graduate is no easy feat, either. £15k is halfway towards a deposit on a house. The only people I knew who shrugged at the fees charged by providers, both in and out of London, came from wealthy backgrounds.

As for the risk/reward point, track down the thousands who never got pupillage and ask them what they think.

Anonymous

Not really. The problem is the government removing funding for Uni. No amount of pupillage awards will ever make up for that. At the risk of being “in my day I remember when all this was fields” it was far easier for someone from a humble background to qualify 25 years ago with funded University places and unfunded pupillages. The government paid my course fees (and paid everyone’s however rich your parents might be), as my family were not well off I also got a £2k (about 4k in todays money) student grant on top of my course fees.

An unfunded pupillage just wasn’t an issue even with no parental help as I left Uni with no debts. I borrowed £10k to pay my £4k Bar School Fees and live whilst at Bar School and £5k to see me through my 1st Six. In second six I earnt £8k (so in todays money about £32k a year – not a fortune but perfectly liveable).

Back in the day the difference between qualifying at the bar if you were from a stony broke family or a rich one was that if you had rich parents, you’d qualify debt free and if you didn’t you’d be forking out about £300 a month once you were in practice and earning for the first three years paying off your Career Development Loan. It really was a case of Meh. Didn’t really make any difference to you and your parental wealth or lack of was in no way a barrier to qualifying.

Do feel very sorry for you guys trying to do the same today as it is so much harder. But that is down to Cameron and the Lib Dems rather than anything the Bar has done. My chambers pays £30k (and we are not a top chancery set by any means), and a tax deductible cost of £600 per pupil per member per year is really neither here nor there.

But the BSB going on about minimum pupillage awards is moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It’s not the pupillage funding that is the problem. It’s that net Generation Xers like me got £50k more in funding from John Major’s government in grants and course fees and lower bar school fees than Millennial’s do today. For all the crap successive governments of either political hue talk about social mobility, Heath, Wilson, Callahan, Thatcher and Major did a lot more for it than any government since.

(11)(0)

Chancery barrister on pupillage committee

Yes, this is probably all true. Students are indentured serfs now.

However, I’m not sure free education is correct or even sustainable given the huge increase in numbers now going to university. Is it the fault of Cameron and the Lib Dems. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and by opening up university education (Labour) and encouraging young people to pursue tertiary education, it seemed inevitable that alternative funding was going to be required.

We are storing up huge resentment and disappointment for the latest generation. They will have these shiny new degrees but with massive debt loaded on top of them. They will come to know that debt stalks almost everyone relentlessly in adulthood and is the cause of so much misery. Placing such debt on the young is a breach of duty.

Given the state of the politicial discourse, it seems unimaginable that we could put the genie back in the bottle now and have a serious discussion regarding the worthlessness of most degrees. Really, it is employers that need to take a lead here, being nudged and incentivised by government to recruit and train school leavers etc. However, this requires investment. HR professionals need to also take some responsibility here and see a degree as the worthless piece of paper that it has become (outside a few universities and some courses).

In short, it sucks and unlikely to be resolved soon. However, packaging off the debt to private entities, who have wacked up the interest rate is an absolute disgrace. If Labour promised to reverse this sale and buy back the debt, I would vote for them. Otherwise, I will do everything I can to avoid the need for my children to take a loan, should they choose to go to university

(3)(1)

Anonymous

All fair points. When I went to university, it was only about 8% of the population who did. So government making an investment in free education, which graduates would more than pay back in taxes through greater earning potential was more do-able.

And your point about “Qualification Inflation” is spot on. My brother got better A-Levels than me, but just wasn’t interested in doing a degree and went into the civil service as an EO. Back in the day you needed no qualifications for AA, O-Levels for AO and A-Levels for EO. Today the equivalent post requires a degree. More people getting degrees has not necessarily helped them. It just means you now need a degree to get a job that previously would have been open to a bright school-leaver.

That said, the treatment of the young has been shameful. The Government’s latest wheeze is to raise the state pension age to 78 (but only for Millennials), whilst our generation is unaffected. Rather like Catch-22, they’ll just keep upping the number of missions they need to fly before being rotated so they all die before they get it.

We got a lot of help when we were young and as a result have no need of the £600 a month state pension. I suppose one solution would be to cancel our pensions and write off student debt with that. But I can’t see any government going with that.

The least we can do therefore is fund pupils properly and above the minimum. It’s a drop in the ocean, but without help when I was young I would never have had the chance to be a barrister at all.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

If young people are suffering far more as a result of changes to the manner in which training is paid for, then why does the Bar and the ghastly, private-equity-owned BPTC providers continue to encourage people to undertake the BPTC and aspire to become barristers? Having already become burdened with debt, it’s making matters worse. I would rather the profession revert into the clandestine, uber-elitist profession it was one hundred years ago than continue to churn out hundreds of BPTC graduates who will never obtain pupillage. You may argue that those who choose to pursue a career at the Bar do so at their own risk, but in these circumstances I don’t think a paternalistic approach would be such a bad thing.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

The reason the course providers do so is money.

I do not think you can say that the Bar is encouraging people to undertake the BVTC. It is doing the opposite. The Bar publishes each year the number of available pupillages, based on the demand in the market for newly qualified barristers.
Whilst the course providers offer about 1,500 places, the Bar offers 500 pupillages.

The Bar has made it crystal clear that there is not the demand from solicitors for 1,500 new barristers a year and every student who enrols on the course must know this, as the number of pupillages offered is publicly available on the Pupillage Portal. The issue of the excessive number of places being offered has been covered many times in the legal press, not least on Legal Cheek.

The issue of student funding is a different one to the issue of market demand. This is not something unique to the Bar. Demand is fed by the availability of legal aid and the number of people who require a barrister and are prepared to pay privately. As was pointed out by another commentator above, rightly or wrongly the effect of Blair’s policy was to increase the number of people going to university by about 500%. The effect of Cameron’s policy was to make university education vastly more expensive than it had previously been.

Increasing the number of places by 500% does not increase the demand in the market by 500%. In that sense the Bar is no different to any other business. You could increase the number of courses for plumbers, electricians, architects, accountants or anything else by 500%, but that would not mean people automatically need the services of more plumbers, barristers or any other trade or profession. I do agree that the fees are too high and that it was wrong of Cameron and the Lib Dems to hike up course fees to their current level. But that is not something over which the Bar has any control.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

“I do not think you can say that the Bar is encouraging people to undertake the BPTC”

I would argue that scholarships, outreach and access schemes do precisely that. No amount of I accept and appreciate that those processes are there in order to encourage diversity and access to the profession to those who are of sufficient calibre, but it is having the damaging side-effect of encouraging naive, overly-optimistic undergraduates that they have a chance.

1351 people were called to the Bar in 2017/18. 1186 the year before that. 1300 the year before that. 1184 the year before that and 1456 in 2013/14. Any of those people who have not already secured a pupillage can apply for one of the mere 500 on offer next year. It is clear that the flow of enrollments needs to be stemmed.

Scouser of Counsel

My generation had a lucky escape, really.

£1000/year fees (means tested at that).

Loan to cover living costs at subsidised interest rates that took only a few years to pay off.

Scholarships that covered the BVC

Funded pupillages.

I don’t envy this generation one bit.

(4)(0)

Four Yorkshire Men

Reading the above posts is a bit of a reverse of the Four Yorkshire Men Sketch (only those of a certain age will get the reference).

It’s a terribly sad state of affairs where over three generations things have got worse for each new generation and rather than each generation pointing out that they had it tougher when they were kids, each points out that they had it better.

Have a chuckle with the sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue7wM0QC5LE

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Some proper arseholes posting on here.

(4)(2)

Barrister lad

Like ur mum

(1)(1)

Anonymous

She hasn’t posted arsehole.

(0)(1)

Barrister lad

But she is does have an unusually large arsehole

(0)(0)

Bob

Why are pupils paid at all? Ridiculous. I earnt my own fees in my first year at the Bar in Sydney.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

They are not “paid” as such. Chambers guarantees minium receipts. Like you, I did an “unfunded” pupillage as I did pupillage before the minium funding rule came in. I billed about £20k as a pupil. I did get paid all of it eventually, but I only got paid about £10k of it during pupillage. So chambers would have been required to top me up to the tune of £2k (or £8k) under the new rule. It really is fuck all cost to the members. In a chambers of 40 members topping pupils up (which is tax deductable) costs each member £50 to £150 a year each per pupil. It makes no difference to us, but does make a big difference to the individual pupil.

(0)(1)

Bob

What it costs to each member of chambers is not the point. The sooner a pupil is only permitted to eat what they kill themselves the sooner they are ready for the rigours of being a self-employed professional.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Ah well, I shut down the Chambers PC on 2 August and won’t be putting I on again until 17 September. How are those 6 week holiday requests working out for those of you who are not self employed? They let you do that and three weeks at Christmas too?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The way I see it is you can either aspire to become an Equity Partner at a law firm or a QC at a top ranked Chambers in your field. Now, most people would say an Equity Partner will make a lot more money but once you factor in buy-in costs as well as any liabilities and tax am I wrong in thinking a top QC will earn more? Considering as a self-employed practitioner you can set up your own corporation for tax reasons and pay and flat rate of corporation tax after rent?

(0)(0)

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