The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is reviewing whether there are “unjustified and discriminatory barriers to pupillage” at the advertising and recruitment stage, Legal Futures can reveal.
Forming part of the Future Bar Training programme, it reflects concerns that access to pupillage is one of the biggest barriers to increasing diversity at the Bar.
It has analysed pupillage advertisements from the Pupillage Gateway and has asked around 50 pupillage training organisations – which are chambers and other organisations that take pupils – to provide details of their marking criteria for determining how they select candidates to interview, and how they go on to select pupils.
This information will be used to identify whether there are any common practices that might inhibit the diversity of entrants to the profession.
The BSB has called in some barristers and chambers staff to be a part of a task completion group to act as “an adviser and critical friend” to the team carrying out the project.
BSB director-general Dr Vanessa Davies said “Our ongoing Future Bar Training programme is a wide-ranging and extensive review of all of the aspects of qualifying and training as a barrister.
“The programme is designed to improve access to the profession whilst at the same time sustaining standards of entry.
“Much of the evidence we have gathered to date indicates that availability of pupillages may be a barrier to increasing diversity at the Bar, so reviewing the way in which pupillages are advertised and how pupils are recruited is an important element of our overall programme of work.
“Seeking input from barristers and chambers’ staff in this review is an example of how we have sought to involve the profession throughout our Future Bar Training programme. We will of course publish the results of our review into recruitment and advertising in due course.”