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The websites charging barrister hopefuls as much as £200 an hour for pupillage interview advice

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Exclusive: A handy leg-up for those who can afford it

Budding barristers with money to throw at the fiercely competitive business of securing pupillage can pay for interview coaching and advice.

Legal Cheek has found at least four websites offering pupillage interview preparation and coaching services. They tend to be businesses that already coach senior barristers for Queen’s Counsel or judicial appointment interviews.

In one example, QCappointments.co.uk charges pupillage candidates £500 plus VAT (ie £600) for three hours. While that translates into £200 an hour including VAT, it is a reduction on the £300 an hour the company charges established practitioners for help becoming a silk.

QCappointments says that “Our interview coaching services aim to optimise your performance at interview by providing you with one-to-one advice and feedback on content, interview style and nonverbal communication”.

However, the website told Legal Cheek it had “not taken on any clients for pupillage or training contract interviews for the last three years”.

Judicialappointmentstraining.co.uk until recently advertised “Pupillage and Training Contract Interview Coaching” for £495 plus VAT, or about £300 an hour. It has since removed the relevant page from its website, telling Legal Cheek that the service was essentially dormant and had not been delivered in a year or two despite ongoing demand.

Much cheaper is gofurthergoals.co.uk, which offers a two-hour package for £99, five hours for £199 or eight hours for £299. It operates over Skype with additional “phone and email support”. This one is offered by an “experienced Training and HR professional” rather than a barrister. It told us it provides an “extremely cost effective service for quality individual attention.”

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Another website, jsbjudicial.com, offers both pupillage and training contact coaching, saying that “such a session may well give you the edge over fellow candidates in what is a highly competitive environment — in which you only have one chance to impress”.

It too has branched out from the lucrative market in QC and judicial appointment coaching, for which it normally charges £260 + VAT an hour. But the website told Legal Cheek:

“It has been our practice to discount the hourly rate significantly for students/pupillage applicants, who can expect to pay less than £200.00 + VAT per hour — and possibly significantly less than this, depending upon individual circumstances.”

There are free alternatives, at least for those still studying. The well-regarded Pupillage and how to get it guide says that “both your university and your Inn will definitely offer” mock pupillage interviews. It also recommends asking “any barrister(s) you know to conduct one, especially if you have been allocated any kind of mentor”.

Competition for pupillage is fierce. Less than half of those who completed the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) between 2013 and 2016 had bagged a pupillage spot by March 2019.

The profession continues to be dominated by those from well-off backgrounds, with around one third of barristers still privately educated.

The Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society has in the past urged wannabe solicitors not to pay for training contract coaching. The Bar Council has been approached for comment.

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42 Comments

Homeowner

Tbh, whilst not as lucrative as running BPTC courses, it’s a fantastic business idea.

(24)(13)

Peter Jones

It’s not though is it…

It’s a very small market and those with enough money to pay £200 for pupilage advice usually do not need to because they understand the social and other unwritten rules of the game.

Most law students decide early on they will never make it as a barrister and this further reduces the size of the market.

On top of that, how many pupilage applications are made a year? How many of those applying can afford this? How many will even see it as necessary?

It’s a rubbish business idea and has a low ceiling. It’s a no from me. I’m out.

(18)(2)

Tej

1. Small market
2. Reduced even further by the most students do not want to become barristers
3. Reduced even further by the fact that those studying to become barristers are a small number
4. Reduced even further by the extortionate pricr
5. Reduced even further by the fact not all BPTC students secure pupilage interviews.

I’m out.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

The modest price is a sensible barrier to entry. The best get it all paid for from scholarships.

(3)(6)

Tej

You aren’t getting it. That reduces your market even more because you are then relying on third party sponsorships. If this is your business then barriers to entry are a bad thing.

It’s no wonder some of you went into law and not business…

(17)(4)

Anonymous

Tej, think a bit deeper. The scholarship regime ensures the best are funded so they have no barriers to entry. The barriers to entry are for the lesser applicants and without barriers weeding them out would be a greater cost burden. So the barriers to entry promote efficiency when it comes to applicant numbers. The supply side market for applicants is not a problem for chambers. Still, you keep going with your A Level economics, your mum will be proud of you when you get a B.

Debz

This exists already. It’s called tutoring and it’s much cheaper than £200 an hour.

(3)(0)

Bunkan Dannantyne

What. A . Schtupid. Business idea. I’m out.

(4)(1)

Jenny Campbell

I think this could become a highly profitable business. I’m out.

(7)(0)

???

The first 2 services mentioned don’t even operate anymore…Top quality stuff here from LC.

(7)(2)

Larry the Cat

Well they would probably say that wouldn’t they….

(3)(1)

???

They do say that.

(3)(0)

Lancelot the Chameleon

Yes but they probably would anyway wouldn’t they.

(3)(1)

???

You’re dim. LC shouldn’t have mentioned them – they’re irrelevant.

Why

Lol how is it good for business for them to advertise a service and then deny that they offer the service? It’s quite clear it was an idea but not enough takers so they abandoned it.

JK

The problem here is not that these websites charge, it’s that there is a gap in the market to do so.
More of us, both solicitors and barristers, need to act as mentors for others and put ourselves out there to provide advice, for free, to those who want to enter the profession.

(13)(3)

Kirkland NQ

For free? You’re ‘avin a laugh guv’nor!

(7)(0)

Truth

The reality is that time is money. If you aren’t doing billable work, then the non-billable time you spend on work-related matters needs to do something to add value. If not, then you are essentially doing that in lieu of whatever you would do in your free time – be that time with your friends, family, or otherwise.

I don’t really see that mentoring a stranger adds value, other than the fulfillment you get from it. For me that is something to be traded off against how much you value your time with family and friends. However, if you mentor the son or daughter of a client then I think it falls within the realms of business development. In that case, it is non-billable work that is adding value.

Unfortunately, for the reasons above I would only be prepared to mentor the son or daughter of a client.

(11)(14)

JK

“Unfortunately, for the reasons above I would only be prepared to mentor the son or daughter of a client.” – so you support nepotism.

Good firms, that truly care about the future of our profession and actually doing something about social mobility, will give you the time to fit in mentoring within your job.

I have mentored students from a local university for the last few years and that usually means meeting them once a month, for an hour. I meet them at my office and I will probably spend half an hour or so beforehand looking through their C.V.

We can all spare an hour a month to help someone progress.

(17)(1)

JD Associate big boi

Plus plenty of top firms in the City allow up to 100 billable hours per year to go under annual targets if done for pro bobo causes. I love it, I can “mentor” and put it down for my sweet sweet xmas bonuz

(4)(1)

Anonymous

“Social mobility”? The current system just cares about race and gender, not social mobility. Social mobility does not come into it.

(13)(2)

Anon

If you are working class, white and male you are invisible on their diversity data.

Truth

I don’t support it, but the system is such that the behaviour is encouraged. If I’m not doing it for BD reasons, then I am doing it out of the goodness of my heart in lieu of my free time. I would rather keep my free time to myself. I work long hours as it is. I was to volunteer my time I would probably work with Shelter because that is a cause I have more passion for.

(3)(0)

Anon

Go sing kumbaya and wear a loincloth. Socialist.

(1)(1)

Anomanous

Have those complaining about this ever heard about the law of supply and demand? There is nothing inherently wrong in such services, especially if they do a good job and help people to get a pupilage and earn $$$$$$ just a couple of years later (unless they do criminal).

(11)(1)

Pink Ribbon

I see the rationale about services for judicial and silk appointments. These competitions have become a tick box satisfying minefield after tinkering and tinkering to meet the demands of diversity warriors, and more specifically, race and gender focused diversity warriors. So advice on what one needs to say to tick the boxes used to be valuable and in reality is necessary now. But there is not a standardised pupillage interview process, so I can’t see the same extent of value being offered for that service.

(14)(3)

JDP

We operate an after-hours intensive training/mentoring course for promising students.

(6)(0)

JDP

Many have been thoroughly “mentored” by the powerful thrusts of my groin.

(7)(2)

JDP is a Neanderthal

Yes, we got the implied and outdated “humour” from the first post. Now, crawl back to your misogynist cave.

(14)(5)

Kale smoothie

These courses would not exist if Chambers were transparent about Pupillage recruitment procedures and stopped favouring those who had clearly benefited from nepotism/family connections.

Most students from ‘normal’ families cannot compete with the inside knowledge and opportunities bestowed upon the children of Judges and QCs. Some may feel the need to pay for such training which likely provides limited benefits.

(12)(28)

Anonymous

Not forgetting the ones who’ve been to the same London public schools that either the QCs or their children have attended.

If being a barrister was really about choosing the ‘brightest’, chambers would be stuffed full of MIT graduates with second languages instead of ‘Madlads’ from the uni cricket squad.

(10)(25)

Anon

Intelligence is largely genetic. One would expect the best to have a heavy weighting towards the children of the elite.

(32)(12)

J

I totally agree. But even if two candidates had identical qualifications, the Pupillage recruitment procedure would likely still favour the son of the QC.

It can’t be a co-incidence that one commercial set frequently gives pupillage to the children of newly appointed judges that tenants appear in front of.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

But that is logical. If judges, especially appellate ones, are drawn from a narrow social range of mainly the upper English public schools, selecting candidates from that social group when all other things are equal makes sense since they will be more socially congruous with the bench they appear before. Change has to come at the top, not the bottom.

Benny Goodman

The reality is that (i) there are lots of non-posh, brilliant barristers at the bar, particularly once your move away from the junior junior end; and (ii) a lot of these sons of judges/QCs are brilliant, brilliant people who outshine their peers on merit and have done since a young age. Which is hardly surprising given that their parents will have themselves been brilliant and they will have been given the best education money can buy.

J

Can we just name these Chambers? Thanks!

(2)(0)

Chambers Recruitment Team

Opaque Processes?

We thought it was very clear that our process is to sacrifice a raft of lamb or chickens to the great Cthulu for guidance on what applicants to chose for interview stage.

The ceremonial dance under the lunar eclipse allows for the final inspiration as to who actually gets pupilage.

(13)(0)

Pork U. Pine

I just give the nod to the highest graded Oxbridge applicants each year. Simples.

(13)(1)

Anonymous

iTs 2020 iT dOeSn’T mAtTeR WhAT yOuR BaCkGrOuND iS.

*posted from my golf cart*

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Cart? How lower class. Use a caddy.

(1)(0)

Anon

The bar has always been for the rich.

(3)(13)

Lord Harley

I will offer the same services for L.50 an hour

(6)(0)

Comments are closed.

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