More than eight in ten pupils (86%) say they have had a positive pupillage experience, according to a new Bar Council survey published today.

The Bar Council Pupil Survey 2024, answered by more than 170 pupils in February (roughly a third of all pupils), found that the vast majority feel supported by their chambers or employers. One pupil told researchers they received some of the “most comprehensive and detailed feedback” they had ever received and described their training as a “gold standard of supervision”.

Significantly, 94% of pupils surveyed said they would recommend a career at the Bar to others, a jump from 73% in 2022, and two-thirds (65%) said a future career at the Bar was viable, another increase from 2022 (61%).

However, women, pupils mainly working in crime, and those with a disability were less likely to see a future career for themselves at the Bar. Disabled pupils were also more likely to report that they were unhappy with supervision (21%) and their pupillage experience so far and that they felt unsupported by their chambers.

The Pupil Survey 2024 report is a summary of the findings from the Bar Council’s third survey of pupils.

Other key findings include:

  • 91% of pupils found the pupillage application process ‘very’ or ‘quite’ challenging.
  • Most pupils surveyed said they were happy with the supervision they received, both in-person (88%) and online (76%).
  • 69% of respondents secured pupillage after two or more attempts.
  • Men are twice as likely as women to have pupillage awards of £60,000 or more.
  • 60% of pupils surveyed said they ‘definitely’ envisage doing legal aid work.
  • One in four (26%) pupils personally experienced or observed bullying, harassment, and discrimination. This was more prevalent among women and those with a disability.

Sam Townend KC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“The high percentage of pupils describing their pupillage as positive is testament to the high standard of training delivered by the Bar to the next generation. Barristers and chambers professionals make sure pupils receive the guidance and support they need. That 94% of pupils said they would recommend a career at the Bar to others is wonderful news, to the credit of all barristers who give their time for free to train pupils and shows real confidence in the future of the Bar. It is particularly noticeable that pupils consider the quality of supervision to be high, whether that is delivered in person or online.

“There is more work to do to make sure that every pupil has the support they need to thrive in their careers. Disabled pupils in particular report feeling less well-supported. Organisations such as Bringing [Dis]Ability to the Bar are doing excellent work to break down barriers to the profession and the Bar Council's own Disability Panel will look at the Pupil Survey 2024 findings to consider what more can be done.

“Pupillage is the profession’s investment in the future of the Bar, and I hope all who are considering a career at the Bar and barristers will take a look at the report.”

Download the report. 

Check out the pupillage resources for students and pupils.