BSB study shows pupillage stereotypes persist

New research by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) suggests that non-traditional candidates have more difficulty securing a pupillage than those who are white, male and middle class.

The study, which compared the backgrounds of pupillage applicants in 2009 and registered pupils in 2011, revealed a number of trends. Despite black and minority ethnic (BME) students making up 26 per cent of applicants, only 14 per cent of pupils in 2011 were BME.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent of applicants were white and took 86 per cent of pupillage places. 

The data also revealed that although women accounted for a larger proportion of applicants than men, men were over-represented in the pupil population.

Elsewhere, the research indicated that those with personal funding options have a better chance in securing pupillage. The data shows that 25 per cent of pupils in 2010-11 expect to have no debt at the completion of their pupillage, while 12 per cent of pupils anticipate debt of over £30,000.

In a response to the report, a Bar Council spokesperson said: “The comparison shows considerable apparent disparities between the profile of pupillage applicants and pupils in relation to diversity and socio-economic background.

“Diversity and inclusivity are essential if a modern profession is to maintain the highest standards of excellence and contribute to a fairer and more effective society.”

The research is one in a series of data anaylses in response to Lord Neuberger’s report, which urged wide-ranging measures to improve access for students from poorer backgrounds “to level the playing field” (24 September 2009).

For more statistics from the BSB research click here.