The chair of the Bar Standards Board has ruffled feathers by describing the time-honoured tradition of pupillage as ‘work experience’.

Former diplomat Sir Andrew Burns made the gaffe during a Bar Council meeting on Saturday.

His comments were picked up on Twitter with one barrister describing the mistake as ‘troubling’.

According to the BSB’s own website, pupillage is the ‘final requirement on the route to qualification as a barrister’. Completion fulfils the professional requirements of training for a career at the bar.

It is divided into two parts: a non-practising six months (also known as the first six) and a practising six months (also known as the second six). Pupils must be paid no less than £12,000 per year, plus reasonable travel expenses.

Burns, according to Twitter, apologised for the ‘fundamental error’ and said ordinary people (including him) do not understand the bar’s jargon.

The BSB said Burns had made a 'slip of a tongue' – the phrase it uses is 'work-based learning'.