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Top commercial chambers rally to save criminal pupillages cancelled due to pandemic

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Group follow Keating’s lead in offering emergency funding for training spots

A group of leading commercial chambers have come together to provide emergency funding for criminal pupillages that have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

The cohort have followed Keating Chambers, which in September pledged £20,000 to fund a pupillage that a criminal set has had to withdraw due to COVID-19.

The group, under the guidance of the Bar Council, is made up of Twenty Essex, Atkin Chambers, 3 Verulam Buildings, Matrix Chambers, Brick Court Chambers, as well a members from 4 Pump Court and Blackstone Chambers. Quadrant Chambers is also lending its support via another route.

“It has been clear from an early stage that the pandemic will have a disproportionate effect on certain areas of the bar”, said incoming Bar Council chair Derek Sweeting QC. “We know that whilst many criminal sets have prioritised the funding of pupillage, there have been and will be gaps.”

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In his inaugural speech yesterday, Sweeting went on to thank those sets that had stepped in so far to prevent the “exclusion of bright talent” from the bar. He continued:

“Special thanks must go to Keating Chambers and Lucy Garrett QC who started this ball rolling in September and have been instrumental in gathering support from across the commercial bar.”

The group is now calling on criminal sets that would like to take up this offer to get in touch with the Bar Council. It is also stressing that any communications on the subject and the identity of any set taking up the offer will be kept completely confidential.

For more information, or to apply, please complete the form which the Bar Council will provide and email it to pupillagegateway@barcouncil.org.uk.

News of the initiative follows a report published by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) that forecasted a drop in pupillage numbers over the next two years as a direct result of the pandemic, with training spots in criminal and family law predicted to be hit hardest.

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