BAME and state-school candidates remain underrepresented in latest pupillage numbers

updated on 05 July 2019

BAME candidates are still much less likely to secure pupillage than white students, while those who attended fee-paying schools remain disproportionately represented, according to the latest annual report from the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

As Legal Futures reports, the research reveals that 84% of white candidates with a first-class degree and an ‘outstanding’ BPTC grade secured pupillage, compared to 71% of BAME candidates with the same grades. Among those with a 2:1, 44% of white candidates gained pupillage compared to just 23% of BAME candidates. And among those with a 2:2, 26% of white candidates were still able to secure pupillage in contrast to 8% of BAME candidates.

The BSB figures also show that around 30% of pupil barristers attended fee-paying schools – a disproportionately high number given that only 7% of the UK population are educated privately. A further 9% of barristers chose not to reveal their education history, so the real percentage of privately educated members of the Bar is likely to be significantly higher than 30%.

The statistics overall are a stark illustration of how difficult it is to obtain pupillage, with just 41% of UK and EU students who enrolled on the BPTC between 2013 and 2017 having secured pupillage by March 2019.

The BSB is working to change barrister training, the expense of which is a massive barrier to entry for many candidates. A BSB spokesperson told the Law Gazette: “Our recent reform to Bar training aims to make it more flexible, affordable and accessible while maintaining the high standards of entry expected at the Bar. We are also seeking to encourage more opportunities for pupillage and work-based learning.”