The supply of pupillages is likely to shrink in the coming years as chambers defer recruitment because of coronavirus, a report by the Bar Standards Board has said.
Over a quarter of chambers and other pupillage providers – known as authorised education and training organisations – intend to delay their pupils’ start dates as a result of the pandemic, according to a survey by the regulator.
‘Whilst concerns in the early stages were primarily about the quality of training that could be offered with courts and chambers buildings closed, most of the deferral decisions that are longer than three months have been driven mainly by financial pressures,’ the BSB said.
Meanwhile, 41% of training organisations that have pupils said that they may not be able to make tenancy decisions based on the limited court experience their pupils have had.The biggest impact has been on areas of law most affected by court closures, namely family and crime.
The BSB said the decision to defer pupils’ start dates could affect plans for pupillages in future years up to 2022 and reduce the overall number of pupillages being offered.
However, the regulator said an ‘encouraging proportion’ of authorised training organisations are pressing on with recruitment plans and it has received no reports of offers being withdrawn. It added that just two chambers have closed since lockdown.
The chance of securing a pupillage through the main portal system shrank to less than 7% this year, according to Bar Council figures seen by the Gazette. In 2019, graduates had a 9.4% chance of success.