The Gateway is the centralised application system for pupillage, on which all pupillages must be advertised. Previously, it was accessible to view during March, with the window for submissions open during the month of April.
The Bar Council has now confirmed that the window will be open in January from next year, meaning students will get pupillage offers earlier, and therefore know whether to commit to the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), therefore removing some of the risk of paying out £18,000 in fees.
In a statement, the Bar Council said the move would also help “avoid the clashes between interviews and exams and dissertation deadlines which are a feature of the current timetable” and ”bring the timetable closer into line with those ATOs [Authorised Training Organisations] which currently recruit outside of the Gateway, making it much less likely that candidates will be made offers in advance of Pupillage Gateway offers.”
The pupillage application system has suffered from various problems over the years. The Gateway replaced the ‘disparate and disorganised’ Pupillage Portal in 2013, but many chambers still opt out of the system completely. Although all pupillages must be advertised through the Gateway, not all applications have to be made through the system. Chambers that opt out often make pupillage offers earlier than Gateway sets.