The Legal 500 Future Lawyers – Bar Guide
Welcome to The Legal 500 Future Lawyers Bar Guide.
In this guide, we explore the other side of the legal profession: the fascinating world of the Bar. From procuring a pupillage to being offered tenancy at your chambers of choice, our Bar Guide aims to help you navigate the sought-after (and extremely competitive!) career path of a barrister.
Who took part?
The Legal 500 Future Lawyers Bar Survey was sent to pupils and junior barristers up to two years in tenancy at sets and chambers across England and Wales. We were overwhelmed by the response; more than 250 pupils and juniors from over 100 chambers took part!
We asked respondents to rate different aspects of their pupillage, from quality of work to supervisor approachability to work/life balance.
We also asked a number of in-depth questions, such as why pupils had chosen their particular chambers or set and what had been the highlights and challenges of their career so far.
‘We receive more structured training. In the first six, this involved Civil Procedure Rules sessions three times a week, and in the run up to second six, we were walked through all of the different kinds of hearing we could appear in by junior members once a week’ – pupil at Gatehouse Chambers
The Bar has traditionally been dominated by Oxbridge graduates, and despite the profession becoming under increasing pressure to diversify its pupil intakes, progress up until this point has been relatively slow.
That said, the percentage of this year’s survey respondents who attended the universities of Oxford or Cambridge at undergraduate level was 34%, down from 40% last year. For context, consider that Oxbridge graduates only account for 1% of UK graduates as a whole.
69% of respondents attended a Russell Group university (including Oxford and Cambridge), which shows that the Bar still holds the group’s 24 member universities in high esteem.
22% of pupils did their undergraduate degree at a non-Russell Group UK university, whilst 8% of pupils went to an overseas university.
When it comes to degree subject, 55% of all respondents studied law at undergraduate level, with the other 45% studying non-law subjects, primarily in humanities, social sciences and modern languages.
A massive 77% of this year’s respondents described their ethnicity as white.
Only 3% identified as black and 3% as Indian or Pakistani. 5% of respondents identified as mixed race and 2% as Jewish.
Although the Bar can still conjure up images of an ‘Old Boys Club’ at times, thankfully the days of the industry being dominated by men are over. 52% of this year’s survey respondents identified as female, whilst 48% identified as male.
‘I have not heard of another chambers that is more invested in the success of all of its pupils – Blackstone really sees it as a chambers achievement if all pupils get taken on at the end of the year’ – pupil at Blackstone Chambers