This blog represents my views and opinions. They are not necessarily those of any other member of my Chambers, none of whom contribute to the blog, or assist me with it.


Now moved to http://pupillageandhowtogetit.wordpress.com/ for reasons of convenience and ease. Come and see.

Friday, 27 July 2007

News Just In

The reason for the slight sense of mystery pervading this blog recently can now be made clear. I applied to, and have been asked to join, the new Education and Training Committee being run by the Bar Standards Board. It seemed to me that it wasn't terribly helpful to make that public before the powers that be made their decision - but things are different now.

So, please keep commenting. I am not promising to become a mouthpiece for anyone or any group. But I made it clear in my application and my interview (with competencies!) that I ran this blog and that it represented a way for potential barristers to discuss issues concerned with training. I do promise to ensure that the sense of the comments I get are reflected to the Committee. And, if I can swing it, I also promise to clue you in on what is being thought about and discussed. That may not be entirely possible and I believe in group action on confidentiality and matters akin to it. But I will do what I can.

Also, if you have not already done so - please vote in the poll.

The only fly in the ointment was missing the first meeting (last night). This is due to the fact that the DX failed to deliver the notice of my appointment until at least the 24th July, notwithstanding that the letter was dated the 17th July. So I didn't know about it because I wasn't in Chambers on Wednesday or Thursday. I am confident we will overcome the preliminary teething problem. Email is better...

Have a good weekend. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible.

Simon (please see post below)


crafty ad-vo-cat said...


great news....I have been reading your blog with interest for a number of weeks.
It will be good to see what changes are coming over the horizon by the time I look to undertake my BVC....

Anonymous said...

Dear Simon,

I am a barrister on the pupillage committee of an employment/PI set and I have been reading your interesting posts for some time now. We are already trying to adapt our selection system so that the paper sift at least is competency-based; we changed our marking system this year and it seems to have worked out fairly well. However, we feel we are very much wandering around on our own in the dark at the moment, as we don't know of any other chambers doing this. I think it would be extremely helpful if your Education and Training Committee could come up with some suggestions/guidance as to the kinds of competencies the Bar should be looking for in prospective pupils. Should you be interested in our experiences, I would be happy to discuss them with you; let me know and I can email you.

The second point I wanted to make is something that has been bothering me for a while. We do our best to make our selection process completely "university blind". We don't take into account the university someone went to in giving marks for academic ability (all Firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s get the same score respectively). Nor do we consider this at the interview stage (which is generally a problem which candidates have 30 mins to consider at the first interview, followed by a more complicated problem for them to research then present at the second). However, the individuals who do best, and to whom we offer pupillage, are still predominantly, although far from exclusively, Oxbridge-educated. Thinking about it myself, there are two potential explanations: the Oxbridge-educated candidates are just better, or our interview process inadvertently advantages such candidates. Just throwing that into the mix, really; any thoughts you have would be very welcome.

I think you're doing good work here; the Bar is (in my state school and Oxbridge-educated view) not as much of a lost cause as the angry anonymous poster on one of your other threads suggested, and I hope that the committee you sit on can take at least some action to make it better and more diverse.


Anonymous said...

Diversity? That'll be the day.

Legal Lass said...

Congrats Simon - it is reassuring for someone applying for pupillage in the near future to know that these things to be looked at and changes made.

I wonder sometimes, how much of Oxbridge's excellence comes from the student's raw intelligence and how much comes from being nutured in a very focused environment with likeminded individuals and lots of support. I am not criticising this - as this is how all universities should be (and perhaps would be if they could afford it!!) but I do think that this should be borne in mind when considering less "polished" candidates from newer institutions, who too would flourish under such care (if Chambers could be bothered to give it!  )

I agree with the concept of “competencies” – You can usually download them from the Chambers’ website and that would give unconventional candidates a chance to see where to enhance their CV to make up for a low grade or different university. It encouraged me during my degree to see Matrix uses this method (or did back then..) and I knew that I would not be able to go straight into the BVC and then Pupillage without gathering a few year’s work experience and contacts along the way - which would have been much harder with the debt of the money I have had to borrow to do the BVC hanging over my head and influencing the jobs i could feasibly take on and still pay the mortgage...

Also (a brave thing to say for someone about to start on the BVC) from talking to my friends who have undertaken the course already, they did say it was quite easy – the only problem was how “paper-heavy” it was, and how much time it took up, without being that challenging… I will be able to elaborate on this after September – and may well eat my words! Will keep you posted.