More than 80% of pupils have positive pupillage experience, Bar Council survey finds

updated on 25 March 2024

Reading time: two minutes

The Bar Council Pupil Survey 2024  found that more than eight in 10 (86%) of pupils have had a positive pupillage experience.

The survey, which was completed in February, was answered by 170 pupils, roughly one-third of all pupils. One pupil described their pupillage training as a “gold standard of supervision” and commented that they’d received some of the “most comprehensive and detailed feedback”. Other positive findings include:

  • 94% of pupils would recommend a career at the Bar, an increase from 73% in 2022;

  • 65% said a future at the Bar was viable, an increase from 61% in 2022;

  • most pupils surveyed were happy with the supervision they received, both in person (88%) and online (76%); and

  • 60% of pupils surveyed said they “definitely” envisage doing legal aid work.

Sam Townend KC, chair of the Bar Council, commented: “The high percentage of pupils describing their pupillage as positive is testament to the high standard of training delivered by the Bar to the next generation. Barristers and chambers professionals make sure pupils receive the guidance and support they need. It’s particularly noticeable that pupils consider the quality of supervision to be high, whether that is delivered in person or online.”

However, the report also found that women, pupils mainly working in crime and disabled pupils were more likely to report they were unhappy with supervision. Findings showed that:

  • 21% of disabled pupils were unhappy with supervision and felt unsupported;

  • 26% pupils personally experienced or observed bullying, harassment, and discrimination; and

  • men are twice as likely as women to have pupillage awards of £60,000 or more.

The survey also made some discoveries about the application process for pupils. For example:

  • 91% of pupils found the pupillage application process “very” or “quite challenging”; and

  • 69% of respondents secured pupillage after two or more attempts.

Read The Oracle to find out more about the 2024 pupillage application process.

In response to these findings, Townend commented: “There’s more work to do to make sure that every pupil has the support they need to thrive in their careers. Disabled pupils in particular report feeling less well-supported. Organisations such as Bringing [Dis]Ability to the Bar are doing excellent work to break down barriers to the profession and the Bar Council’s own Disability Panel will look at the Pupil Survey 2024 findings to consider what more can be done.”