The Bar Council has confirmed that the Pupillage Gateway system for applying to pupillage will move to January as of 2017.
The Gateway is the centralised application system for pupillage, on which all pupillages must be advertised. Currently, it is accessible to view during March, with the window for submissions open during the month of April. This will remain the case in 2016, but will change next year.
The Bar Council originally planned to make the change starting this January, but backtracked and asked students for their views in a consultation. It received 126 responses, of which 45 were from chambers.
In a statement, The Bar Council said that the majority of chambers supported the move and that the overwhelming response from students was positive. However, the organisation added that it would work with those who saw challenges with the planned new timetable.
Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: “This is a common-sense decision by the Bar and students. Given the high costs associated with the BPTC, the new Pupillage Gateway timetable, which will run from January to April as of 2017, means that at least students applying through the Gateway will know if they have pupillage before committing to the BPTC.
“However, this was never going to be about simply changing the date of Gateway. The Bar Council has an ongoing and crucial role to play in supporting students and pupillage providers. Over the next year we will be raising awareness about mini-pupillages, providing support via the Bar Council’s Pupillage Fair and continuing to equip students with the knowledge they need before they commit to the BPTC.”
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.