Future pupillage offers to shrink under covid-19 pressures according to BSB

updated on 14 September 2020

The number of pupillages being offered is likely to shrink as covid-19 forces chambers to defer recruitment, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) revealed in a recent report.

According to the survey more than a quarter of chambers and other pupillage providers (known as authorised education and training organisations – AETOs) plan to press pause on their pupil start dates as they respond to coronavirus.

“While 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, with a number of areas of law having been affected by court closures, 41% of AETOs with current pupils are unsure whether they will be able to make tenancy decisions because their pupils have received limited court experience.  

The deferral of pupil start dates could affect future pupillage plans until around 2022, with the overall number of pupillages on offer likely to shrink, the BSB said.

Despite the many plans to defer start dates, the regulator revealed that an “encouraging proportion” of AETOs will continue with recruitment.

According to the Law Gazette and recent Bar Council figures, chances of securing a pupillage via the main portal system fell to less than 7% this year compared with a 9.4% chance of success in 2019