The Bar Council has launched a new website aimed at improving diversity within the notoriously stuffy barristers' profession. Although even barristers have admitted that's not going to make it any easier to get started.

The new site - - was given a glittering launch at Inner Temple this week. It's rammed with glossy videos showing that the Bar is diverse, inclusive and a meritocracy open to all. There's "no other job like it" the Council claims (which is probably true as few other jobs require their workers to wear ancient horsehair wigs).

  But it probably won't be, actually
The Bar Council's efforts to encourage the very best and brightest to apply - irrespective of background - do appear to be working. In 2008/09 13% of pupil barristers were from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, compared to about 8% of the UK population. Although there's some way to go, of course as only 4% of QCs are from BME backgrounds - but at least change is afoot at entry level.

However, the new site is pretty coy when it comes to describing statistical horrors in store - to say nothing of potential debts of £70,000. The odds are harrowing, with only 460 entry level pupillage places available in 2009/10 for over 1,250 UK nationals called to the Bar that year. And as the BPTC allows you to apply for pupillage for five years, there is an enormous oversupply of pupillage-less Bar school grads from previous years fighting for the training spots. Plus, those with a 2:2 are still able to enrol - even though the stats show only about 4% of those with a Desmond will obtain a pupillage (and most all of those will be second career types).

The moral of the story? Becoming a barrister is hard, irrespective of your background, and the basic requirement of terrifyingly brightness remains. To borrow the Twitter précis of (immensely highly-qualified) barrister Seán Jones of 11 Kings Bench Walk: "All that matters is if you're good enough ... but you probably aren't."
Tip Off ROF