Bar Council chair warns aspiring barristers of oversupply of students

The Bar Council’s 25th Annual Conference last week (Saturday 6) revealed staggering statistics on the odds of would-be barristers securing pupillages.

Nicholas Green QC, chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, revealed that over 4,000 applicants are now routinely competing for about 460 places.

Green said: “Morally, I have real qualms about a system of education which encourages universities to educate more and more law students, because a law student can be generated at virtually zero marginal cost.”

“These students leave university with substantial debts, often exceeding £30,000. They then invest further in professional training only to find that the door into the profession is very small and the waiting room massively overcrowded,” he added.

He said discussions with students showed that many are seduced into long, tortuous and expensive qualification processes where there is no realistic prospect of them ever being absorbed into the profession.

“For this reason, I welcome the work which the Bar Standards Board has been conducting to attempt to address these issues through an aptitude test. I doubt this goes far enough, but it is in my view a step in the right direction,” he explained.