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Further decline in number of pupillages, report reveals

18 January 2012

The number of pupillages being offered to young barristers has declined for the third year running, a report for the Bar Council has revealed.

While 562 first six pupillages and 555 second six were registered in 2007/08, only 446 first six and 477 second six were registered in 2010/11.

The Bar Barometer report, compiled by Dr Jennifer Sauboorah at the Bar Council, also found some very high debt levels among pupil barristers. Over six per cent of pupils in 2009/10 owed more than £40,000 and 2.6 per cent more than £50,000.

More than half had debts of £10,000 or more and less than 20 per cent said they had no debt.

The proportion of female pupil barristers fluctuated from around 50 per cent to 40 per cent during the past six years, with 48.5 per cent giving their gender as female in 2009/10. A surprisingly high number of pupil barristers failed to give either gender – 11.5 per cent.

The number who said they were from BME backgrounds also fluctuated, peaking at over 20 per cent in 2006/07 before falling back to 15.4 per cent in 2009/10.

Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the Bar Standards Board, said: “We are pleased to see that the report demonstrates a positive representation of women, BME and disabled barristers at entry level and hope that the introduction of our new equality and diversity rules later this year will ensure that these figures are reflected at senior levels of the profession in the near future.”

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