This is the headline no aspiring barrister wants to see, but equally it is something that has been on the cards for a while with the number of pupillages falling gradually. However this year the number of pupillages has fallen to its lowest level, and statistics were released by the Bar Standards Board, which also reflected a decline in the availability of work.
I read this article in The Law Society Gazette (4th May 2015 edition) and whilst I always get asked, “are you sure you want to be a barrister?” “it is really hard to get a pupillage”, “what about the possible lack of work?” my decision still remains the same.
I have been aware of how challenging it is to secure a pupillage for a number of years, and the current legal climate makes it even more challenging but that isn’t a reason to not even try!
I am going to study the BPTC and try my damned hardest to secure a Pupillage and in the meantime I will keep working hard in no doubt various legal roles, whether in firms, chambers, organisations or universities.
The Bar Standards Board issued a series of statistics that included:
The annual number of first six places offered in 2013/2014 was 397 (a 22% drop since 2005/2006 when the bar regulator first began collecting data)
Overall the number of barristers remained steady at £15,716 (which is a 1% increase on the previous year)
Female barristers make up 30% of the profession – but only 13% of QC’s
Currently 11% of practicing barristers are from a minority ethnic background
I think it is down to each aspiring barrister as to whether or not they decide to pursue a career at the Bar or swap across to become a solicitor (however securing a Training Contract can be just as challenging) or perhaps pursue a slightly different legal role. The option is always there to go back and study the BPTC if the market picks up.
But having the BPTC (even if it takes a while to secure a pupillage) gives you that foot up in the legal world, and also provides you with some practical tips which will be useful when perhaps working as a paralegal in firms.
I know lots of paralegals who are either working 6 month contracts whilst they wait to commence their pupillage, or working whilst they apply for pupillage (and the same applies for those seeing a Training Contract).
It is a personal decision for each individual but for me, I am set on pursuing this, and will cross that bridge later on down the line if my plan does not quite go to plan, but in the meantime I will keep building up my knowledge and experience and putting it to good use, whether in a firm or a university.