Top QC defends controversial pupillage workshop event

International criminal lawyer and human rights advocate Andrew Hall QC has defended a controversial workshop event charging bar-hopefuls for pupillage advice.

Osbourne McKenna, a company set up by Tooks Chambers members Sultana Tafadar and Naeem Mian, is running the event ‘How To Get Pupillage: Applying & Interviewing’ on 2 March at Friends House in Euston, London marketed at those applying for pupillage.

Controversy erupted last week about the ticket price for the event, which was originally £175, but was subsequently reduced to £80 on Friday and today to £42.50.

A message on the event page reads: “We are pleased to announce that we have now secured sponsorship for this event from City Law Chambers Solicitors. As a result, we are now able to offer tickets at £42.50. Please note that those that have paid the full price will be refunded the difference during registration.”

Hall, who is a speaker at the event and a member of Doughty Street Chambers, defended the event saying: “It is quasi-commercial … but not terribly expensive – there have been lots of free places given away.”

As chairman of the Kalisher Trust, a charity aimed at helping students unable to go to the bar due to financial constraints, Hall received five free tickets to distribute to students “those tickets were snapped up – students absolutely had my hand off for them. This is a good event and I am doing this because I think it is important. I am not getting paid for this – I haven’t asked for a fee and was not offered a fee.

“As a result of this event a number of people – five I know personally – are going to get a day’s training for free. I am happy to support this event even if it means giving up one of my few spare Saturdays.”

Other barristers speaking at the event include Michael Mansfield QC and Garry Green of Tooks Chambers, Nadia Motraghi of Old Square Chambers, Laurie Anne Power and Alphege Bell of Carmelite Chambers, and Jo Sidhu QC of 25 Bedford Row.

This follows the formal launch last week by the Bar Standards Board of the new Bar Course Aptitude Test – that launch saw anger from potential barristers after the previously suggested fee of £67 for taking the test was more than doubled to £150 (20 February 2013).