Pupillage Gateway review

26 November 2015

Guy Featherstonhaugh QC

Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC, Chair of the Bar Council's Education and Training Committee, guest blogs for BarTalk about the review of the Pupillage Gateway timetable and why it's important for members, students, chambers and others involved in the pupillage recruitment process to have their say. 

Two years ago, the Bar Council instigated a review of the Pupillage Gateway timetable, which sought to identify whether a shift forward in the timetable dates from April/August to January/April would be beneficial for its users and potential users - students, chambers and others involved in pupillage recruitment. 

The review group carried out an online survey to which 43 BPTC students and 90 pupils responded, met with student officers at the Inns of Court, carried out telephone interviews with university careers advisors, and conducted telephone interviews with the heads of pupillage (or relevant alternative) organisations.

The view that was taken by the authors of the subsequent report in the light of their survey was that a move in the timetable would be beneficial. 

First, the authors thought that the main benefit of a timetable move would be that candidates would know the outcome of their pupillage applications before they committed money to the BPTC.

Secondly, they thought that the earlier timetable would avoid clashes between undergraduate or GDL exams and pupillage interviews.

Thirdly, they felt that the current timetable incentivises students to wait until their BPTC year before making an application for pupillage, thus leading them to incur significant costs on BPTC fees and living expenses in circumstances in which they did not have a realistic understanding of their likelihood of ever obtaining pupillage.

The report was unanimously endorsed by the Bar Council earlier this year.  Since then, however, a number of pupillage providers who are currently within the Gateway have expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed change upon their own recruitment processes.  They have rightly pointed out that they were not consulted about the change, and wished to have an opportunity to be heard.  In particular, they were concerned that they would have insufficient time to carry out the assessed mini-pupillages that are an important part of their recruitment process.  Furthermore, they would be unable to use final degree results when selecting candidates for second round interviews, since those results would not yet be available. They also expressed concern at the disruption that would be caused by having to implement the new timetable with just six months' notice.

The Bar Council accordingly undertook to carry out a survey of all pupillage providers and others before deciding whether to proceed with the change.  This is that survey.

Please therefore take this opportunity to let us have your views by providing your feedback to the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/gatewaytimetable.  We would like to hear from those of you who are within the Gateway, as well as those of you who are outside the Gateway, but might join were the dates moved.

Yes, this is yet another survey - but it takes minutes to complete, and your views are very important to us.  Please take part.  If you want to know more about the possible reasons for change, then please read the article by Joanne Wickes QC in Counsel -http://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/articles/pupil-selection   .  The deadline for response is Friday 11 December 2015.

Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC 
Chair of the Bar Council's Education and Training Committee