Aspiring barrister targeted in ‘cash for pupillage’ scam

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By Adam Mawardi on

‘Don’t fall into a similar TRAP’, ULaw undergrad warns in LinkedIn post

An aspiring barrister who was the unwitting target of a ‘cash for pupillage’ scam has gone public with her “traumatising” ordeal.

Amirah Ali, an undergraduate law student at the University of Law, says she was approached recently by an individual who suggested that he could secure her a precious pupillage spot in exchange for money.

“He promised that if I put £1,145 down as a deposit he could guarantee me a chair at a certain chambers,” Ali writes in a post that has since gone viral on LinkedIn. “He has also claimed to know some people but I have verified this with those individuals and it’s not true. He claims they are his colleagues.”

Ali goes on to warn other bar hopefuls about falling victim to similar scams. “PLEASE don’t fall into a similar TRAP like this. No pupillage can be offered in return of money,” she says.

Ali refrains from naming the scammer but does reveal she’s reported the incident to the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the police and Action Fraud.

Her post, which has received over 50 responses, also calls for other individuals to come forward who have been put in similar situations. “PLEASE message me so we can report it together!” she writes.

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Responding to Ali’s post, Mary Prior QC, a criminal barrister at The 36 Group, said: “I am so sorry that you have been exposed to this awful conduct… You are extremely courageous to share this information with your LinkedIn connections.”

“What a terrible experience, and a hard lesson,” fellow law student Tanya Beck commented. “[H]ave faith that you can get where you need to be on your own merits. I wish you all the best!”

In a subsequent post, the law student says the alleged scammer has apologised for his actions.

A spokesperson for the BSB declined to comment on Ali’s post specifically but did stress that “all organisations seeking to offer pupillage must be authorised to do so by us and all pupillages must be advertised on the Pupillage Gateway”.

“We would urge aspiring barristers to remain vigilant against scams that suggest otherwise,” they added.

The incident comes as the number of aspiring barristers enrolling on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) has soared to record highs, meaning the tough competition for pupillage is fiercer than ever. As reported by Legal Cheek, the year’s recruitment round saw 2,142 people submit at least one application via the Bar Council’s Pupillage Gateway. There were just 206 pupillage places available.

Earlier this year, the BSB announced that all chambers in England and Wales will need to bring their recruitment processes in line with the Pupillage Gateway timetable, in an effort to make recruitment “fairer and more consistent”.

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