Huge drop in new tenancies at the Bar – or not?

The Bar: annual growth of 3.7%

The number of tenancies available for newly qualified barristers collapsed in the most recent year for which figures are available, the annual Bar Barometer has revealed.

However, in the wake of Legal Futures‘ report – which was followed up by several other legal titles this morning, such as the Law Society’s Gazette, Legal Cheek and Lawyer2b – the Bar Council and Bar Standards Board have issued a statement that the figure is incorrect.

The Barometer, published this week jointly by the two bodies, said that there were just 194 newly registered tenancies for 2011/12, down nearly two-third from 541 in 2010/11. In the years prior, the average was 499.

A statement published by the Bar Council said: “The recently published Bar Barometer listed the number of new tenancies for 2011/12 as 194. This figure is incorrect. We are in the process of confirming the final figure, but current indications are that it will be more closely aligned with previous years.

“We are seeking to understand how this error occurred and are looking at related statistics which may require amendment as a result. We will issue a further update as soon as we can and apologise for this mistake.”

The figures also showed that men were notably more successful in securing the reduced number of tenancies. While in the previous year women accounted for 52% of new tenants, in 2011/12 the figure fell to 38%. There was a similar widening of the gap between successful white and BME barristers; only 9% of tenants and newly employed barristers were from a BME background.

Of the 1,469 barristers called in 2011/12, there was an equal split of men and women, while 43% were BME (3% of the whole did not disclose their ethnicity).

However, there was no significant reduction in the number of pupillages available in 2011/12 – 438 first six and 477 second six – and pupils were split equally on gender.

The number of Bar students rose 18% to 1,732 in 2011/12. This in part reflected a major increase in the number of places on the Bar professional training course – there would not have been enough to accommodate that many students in 2010/11 – but as in that year, the course was still only 80% full.

As of 2012, 15,585 barristers held practising certificates, and is averaging an annual growth rate of just over 3.7% in recent years. Nearly 35% are women, and 11% from a BME group. Some 81% were self-employed. Women and BME barristers formed higher proportions of employed barristers than those in self-employed practice.

    Readers Comments

  • Worryingly these figures are for 2011/12 pupillages – I fear the number of opportunities will either flat line or continue to decline . There is a parallel decline in training contracts.

    The area of growth is for Legal Apprentices.

    There is a new landscape developing, what should we be advising school students?

  • Richard J says:

    Very troubling. The writing was on the wall over a decade ago when I started though.

    As a side note on one of those figures, the large proportion of BME people qualifying as barristers as opposed to 11% of those with practising certs is traditionally skewed by significant numbers of people who come from Africa (and India & Pakistan?) to train with no intention of practising here. 11% as a headline figure isn’t too bad (the proportion of those in well-known and successful civil sets might well be less cheerful)

  • David Tyne says:

    Solicitors’ figures show no such decline. I suspect the BSB’s political meddling has had a significant impact on many levels.

  • Edward Ross says:

    I agree Richard. The numbers are skewed. From my BVC cohort (2010) I would estimate that around 40% were BME (a large proportion from Malaysia in fact) and about 35% had no intention of practising in the UK at all.

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