Merry Christmas From Pupillageville

Merry Christmas From Pupillageville

Merry Christmas One And All From Pupillageville….

I would like to start off by wishing all the readers of the Pupillage Blog a very Merry Christmas!  After what has been a very long year, the traditional turkey and Christmas pudding have at last made their seasonal appearance and it is really wonderful to sit back and relax and enjoy the festive season with the family at this Christmas time.

With Christmas crackers all abound and the festive stockings hanging by the warm fire place, I raise a glass of mulled wine and wish you all a very merry Christmas from Pupillageville.  Merry Christmas.

As always,

Stephen  AKA  Justin Time

The Pupillage Gateway And The All Important FAQ’s – An Interview With The Bar Council

From the Pupillage Portal to the Pupillage Gateway…The All Important FAQ’s.

On the 26th November, the Bar Council announced the launch of a new online pupillage application system called ‘The Pupillage Gateway’, which is set to go live early next year.  In a recent press release Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar, believes that this new system will be easier than ever for applicants and chambers to manage the online pupillage process. However, the burning question at ‘The Pupillage Blog’ was, could this really be the case?

In this interview with the Bar Council, I can hopefully shed some legal rays of sunlight upon the forthcoming ‘Pupillage Gateway’ and persuasively put forward those all-important FAQ’s for both pupils and chambers alike, as attentions begin to shift towards this new bespoke online pupillage application system.


The Pupillage Gateway and the All Important FAQ’s – An Interview With The Bar Council

What has prompted the redesign and rebranding of the ‘Pupillage Portal’ given that this system has been regularly updated?

The contract for the provision of the Pupillage Portal expired, which gave us a good opportunity to take stock of the requirements of recruiters and candidates and select, via a competitive tender process, the most suitable supplier to meet those needs. We are confident that we have achieved this objective in the Pupillage Gateway.


From the information disseminated within the recent press release, is December to January a realistic timeframe, (given this is traditionally the Christmas period), to roll out a programme of market research to identify both products and services to help facilitate the pupillage recruitment process?

We are confident that we have a suitable window in which to assemble the required feedback to inform further our decision-making process.


What considerations where looked at when the Bar Council decided to reflect upon the previous ‘Pupillage Portal’ and amend those to create a new system?

We wanted to ensure that we could provide a modern and flexible system which could deal with the high-volume application process and respond both to the needs of Pupillage Training Organisations and candidates.

Feedback from a user-evaluation exercise in 2011 was factored into the development of the Pupillage Gateway. Requests for specific functionality – such as the option for chambers to customise questions, and an improved user guide – were included in the specification.


How will this online system differ from its predecessor given the identified comments and feedback directly driven from users and non-users of the previous online ‘Pupillage Portal’ system?

We have chosen a provider with a strong track record in supplying online recruitment solutions. We believe that this is a tried and tested system which will meet the requirements of the Gateway’s users.


Within the recent press release, it was identified that the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ would be a bespoke design built by Jobs Go Public (JGP), so would the Bar Council take overall full responsibility for the updating, administration and on-going end-user support or will this be this responsibility be handed over to JGP?

The Bar Council will take primary responsibility, with JGP handling all technical queries and issues.


So what are the significant enhancements to applicants and chambers through this new online system?

The Gateway will offer:

  • An easy-to-navigate system
  • The opportunity to edit pupillage vacancies and customise application forms
  • The facility to  add a Chambers Specific Question with word count adjustment
  • An online marking system to assess applications on-screen and manage each application as it is received
  • A clearer progress map of each candidate’s journey towards recruitment
  • The ability to shortlist candidates for first and second round interviews with the option of creating interview slots or allowing candidates to log onto the system to book their interviews
  • An email template to communicate updates to candidates at each stage of the process. The template can be edited and tailored to individual candidates, and
  • The capability to view aggregated Equal Opportunities monitoring data online and offline. The data can be broken down according to the stage that each candidate has reached. The Gateway is already compliant with the Bar Standards Board’s regulations on Equality and Diversity.


Previously, applicants using the system would be able to choose a maximum of 12 applications to chambers, is this going to remain the same?



Will the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ allow chambers to individually administer their pupillage opportunities, or will this be addressed though a central administration process by the Bar Council?

All pupillage advertisements need to be approved by the BSB.  However, chambers and Pupillage Training Organisations (PTOs) will be responsible for administering, via the system, the recruitment process from application to assessment and through to decisions on offering pupillage.

The Gateway has been developed to encourage all PTOs and chambers to capture data throughout the recruitment process so that candidates have a transparent view of their application.


What information has the Bar Council sought from those chambers intending to use the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ to define the type/style of questioning for the online applications so that it ensures a balanced, fair and consistent approach to all applicants?

The Bar Council produced a Fair Recruitment Guide in September 2012 to help barristers and chambers comply with the Bar Standard Board’s equality and diversity rules on recruitment and selection. The layout of the application form, and the questions within it, are based on the requirements set out by this Guide.


What training has or will be installed into the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ to ensure that chambers are approaching the selection criterion correctly and how will this be monitored?

The Bar Council’s Fair Recruitment Guide provides guidance for chambers on these matters.


Will the Bar Council either independently or with the support of the Inns, be providing any online or offline training/online videos to applicants or chambers seeking to use the new ‘Pupillage Gateway’?

Training will be provided for chambers on the functionality of the Gateway and FAQs will be provided for applicants, but we are confident that it is a straightforward and easy to use platform.


Given the importance of candidates preparing their online applications and submissions to chambers, when will a demonstration application be available for applicants to view online?

There will be a generic application form available to download from the Gateway from 1 March 2013. This form will help candidates to prepare thereby relieving the pressure on them to complete the application within a one-month window. This form will contain all but the specific questions from chambers.


Given the current discussions surrounding ‘access to the profession’ and ‘social mobility at the Bar’, how is the Bar Council intending to integrate and apply these principles of intent within the ‘Pupillage Gateway’, especially in view of the latest data and trends derived from the ‘2012 Bar Barometer’?

There will be full monitoring capabilities. The Gateway has been built to enable chambers to store and track equality and diversity data trends, helping them to adhere to requirements from the BSB.


Given the growing trend that chambers seem to be moving down a non-OLPAS route to enable recruitment throughout the year, is the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ seeking to foster this model, or will it remain to be a once yearly recruitment process?

The Gateway application system adheres to the general pupillage timetable (OLPAS and non-OLPAS), which is driven to a large extent by regulation.

A large number of chambers have used the central application system over the years and we are confident that the enhancements to the system will encourage more to sign up to it. The Gateway will recruit once a year but it will be accessible all-year-round advertising all pupillage vacancies, as required by regulation.


In the past it can be evidenced that not all sets of chambers have always provided details of their available Non-OLPAS pupillages upon the ‘Pupillage Portal’, or posted application details online within a timely manner. Will the Bar Council be addressing this often contentious issue?

All chambers are required by regulation from the BSB to advertise pupillage vacancies on the Gateway. The BSB will continue to monitor this requirement upon chambers.


Finally, is there an intention at any point for the Bar Council to develop a focus group to help support the on-going development of the ‘Pupillage Gateway’?

User feedback is, and always has been, an important part of being able to offer a relevant service. We will continuously seek feedback on the Gateway (and other products) from our diverse user-base, as we have done in the past.


My thanks to Toby Craig and the Communications Team at the Bar Council for the insight into the forthcoming ‘Pupillage Gateway’.

Well, one can only wait and see if applicants will be in for a smooth ride come the 1st March with the new ‘Pupillage Gateway’, but from a practical perspective I hope that the feedback from both pupils and chambers alike have driven through the necessary changes that will provide a slick, balanced and reliable online application process.

As always,

Stephen  AKA  Justin Time

Pupillage And News For A Modern Bar And An Accessible Bar Barometer

News from the Bar Conference 2012 to the Bar Standards Board Bar Barometer…

It has been a very long summer in Pupillageville and I have finally been able to blow off the cobwebs from the electronic quill, so as to at last engage once again (in a more timely way), with writing another draft upon ‘The Pupillage Blog’.

These last few months have been very difficult for me and my family, as our daughter was taken very poorly in the summer. Most of August and September was spent pacing hospital corridors and embracing the very role and function of the NHS.  Our first hand collective experiences dispel any criticism of our National Health Service, as I can only offer complete admiration and commendation for those hard working, tireless souls of St. Georges Hospital in Tooting, of whom we are very indebted.

Life has once again returned to some normality, with lecturing and union representation being at the very heart of regular day to day activities. In July amidst the turmoil of endless marking, I was very pleased to be duly elected as the new local Branch Secretary for the University College Union. So life is as busy as ever and the pen will remain mightier than the sword as I return to report and reflect upon more pressing issues at hand and at the Bar.

Saturday saw the largest event in the Bar’s calendar with the 27th Annual Bar Conference.  The focus this year was ‘The Modern Bar – Accessible, Adaptable and Relevant’.  For those who could not attend, a stream of well versed and informative ‘tweets’ were posted across the Twitter airwaves.  The key note speech from Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, was passionately delivered with the address centrally focussed upon how the Bar must fight to shape its own future in this modern, dramatically and quickly changing, legal landscape or be lost forever. Dramatic as this sounded, I cannot help feeling that the tide is turning and given the publication on Monday of the 2012 Bar Barometer by the Bar Standards Board, one might be excused for thinking that the statistics might just bare out some very real concerns within our profession.  Safeguarding and promoting the Rule of Law along with the core values that underpin the profession is paramount to the longevity of the Bar, this has never more been so in such times of austerity across the legal divide.   As an individual, I am passionate about my profession and supporting all of those individuals who wish to come to the Bar, after all this was my primary reason for creating ‘The Pupillage Blog’. However, experience has borne out that collective fundamental attitudes need to change so as to foster a more productive and persuasive approach to steer this legal ship back on course.

Now to future events.   I have been contacted by The Chancery Bar Association with regards to The Chancery Bar Careers Fair which takes place this Saturday 17th November. This is an excellent opportunity to meet barristers and get a good insight into life at the Bar. To this end, I have posted further information on a dedicated page covering this event and a link for registration.   If you are thinking of attending this event, I would certainly recommend having a read though the commentary from the The Guardian’s Live Q&A on ‘How to get the most out of law fairs’, which was hosted last Thursday, which is supportive, informative and constructive in its approach.

Turning finally to ‘The Pupillage Blog’.  Over the course of the next few weeks and months, I will regularly be updating the Blog along with key links to provide the very latest legal information and opportunities. Note that daily information will as always be channelled through @Pupillageblog on Twitter.

So until next time.

As always
Stephen AKA Justin Time

Pupillage News And The Future Of The Bar

Events and protestations provoke a reflective mood across the Bar…

As I start to compose my latest post, can I firstly apologise for the delay in bringing you up-to-date with recent events.  In part I have been incredibly busy with representing individuals in my capacity as a union official, whilst it’s been nose to the grindstone as my lecturing commitments with students draws to their natural conclusions. In any event, those following ‘The Pupillage Blog’ via Twitter will have been kept up-to-speed with all the latest legal and pupillage news via my daily tweets.

As the mood changes towards pupillage interviews after the onslaught of the ‘Pupillage Portal’, I am mindful of the recent research by the Bar Standards Board which would suggest that non-traditional candidates have more difficulty securing a pupillage than those who are white, male and middle class, which lets face it creates a very uncomfortable and unacceptable position for the profession.  Interestingly, this latest statistical offering from BSB generally supports those concerns and thoughts drawn in my recent post ‘The Roll of the Pupillage Dice‘.

However, there may be at last a change in the air, as this controversial hot potato is finally jettisoned into the wider domain. The Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) a joint project of the Solicitors Regulation Authority the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards, is examining regulated and non-regulated legal services and all stages of legal education and training.  With recommendations in December, the outcome of this review could spark the much needed change to the most radical rethink into legal training for many years.

For those gearing up for the forthcoming pupillage interviews, news from the front that barristers may take the uncharted step of initiating strike action, will inevitably provoke a reflective if not mindful awareness of the current mood across the Bar.  Possible direct action in protest against low and late payments at the Criminal Bar has seen a flurry of responses from some of the leading figures within the profession. However, whilst I can understand any derived palpable anger at the real injustice of the legal aid cuts, I am very mindful that from the perspective of the general public, sympathy in support for such action will not be embraced with the same enthusiasm.  To this end, it is my considered opinion that any such protestations may provide opponents of the Bar the necessary ammunition to create a pivotal turning point to reshape the future of our legal profession.

Finally, turning to some important news from the Crown Prosecution Service.  Following the omission of the CPS Legal Trainee Scheme upon the Pupillage  Portal, the decision has been taken to extend the application submission date to Friday 8th June.  So good luck for all those waiting upon on news of pupillage interviews  and remember The Pupillage Blog will always be here to support you.

As always,

Stephen (AKA) Justin Time.

The Pupillage Fair & The Pupillage Proms Part II

From Pupillage to Composer - Pupillage Proms Part II

With a lull before the storm of the online pupillage applications through the Pupillage Portal, the TARGETjobs National Pupillage Fair will soon be upon us.  The Fair this year will be taking place on Saturday 3 March at Lincoln’s Inn and as always, I would certainly recommend that you take this opportunity to register ahead of time so as to avoid any disappointment.

The Pupillage Fair offers an objective opportunity for those embarking upon the path to pupillage to engage, chat and network with a wide number of tenants and pupils from the represented chambers, whilst also gaining a good insight into life at the Bar. Throughout the day, there will be a number of informative talks on careers at the Bar which have always proven to be extremely popular, so my advice on this would be to identify the programme you would like to attend before you go, as you will need to queue for each talk.

Most of all if you are going to attend the Pupillage Fair this year, go with open eyes, do your research, ask pertinent questions and try and get a gauge on those sets that you may be applying to in April.  Enquire about the success rate of those pupils who then went on to attain tenancy.  Likewise, if on the day you find a set that you really engage with, enquire about the possibilities of attaining a mini-pupillage at chambers. Finally, don’t forget to charge up that smart phone and ensure that you have a pad and pen at the ready to jot down all the relevant information that circulates your way as you will almost certainly reap the benefit from this after the Fair.

Turning now to the Pupillage Proms Part II.  In a previous post, I alluded to the fact that we all come to the Bar with differing skills and abilities and I am no exception to this rule.  In the post the Pupillage Proms Part I, I placed for your entertainment a composition entitled ‘A Question of Honour’. Today to help encourage and hopefully invigorate you upon your journey I have below a composition which I scored for a film soundtrack a few years ago entitled ‘The Score’.

So happy listening until next time.

As always
Stephen AKA Justin Time