There was much learned worrying this week when a big cheese at the Bar noticed the huge number of students paying expensive law schools fees with precious little chance of getting a job.

Michael Todd QC, chairman of the Bar Council, claimed on Wednesday that over-recruitment of students wasn't doing the profession, the students or social mobility any favours. Todd said it was a "great concern" that law schools were pumping out a hefty oversupply of grads with "no realistic prospect of pupillage". And he worried about those chucking £16,000 at a qualification which, for those who fail to obtain pupillage, adds little to employability. He also acknowledged that social mobility is being restricted (no matter what the OFT might say) as it is the more affluent students who are better able to risk the cash.

    A pouting Michael Todd QC hears about the oversupply of BPTC graduates.

Each year 1,600 students embark on the BPTC. About a quarter are from overseas and will return to their home jurisdictions. And about 20% will fail (first time round, at least). So that's still around 1,000 students called to the Bar every year. However last year there were only 446 pupillages, and that figure is in inexorable decline.

Now whilst a 50%-ish chance sounds OK (although still like putting £16k on red), that doesn't take into account oversupply from previous years. In 2010, Todd's predecessor Nicholas Green QC estimated that 4,000 applicants are routinely fighting for about 460 pupillages; so that's eight applicants for each job.

The College of Law was quick to jump to the defence. Susan Hutchinson, a member of the CoL's management board, shot back that Todd's statement was "scaremongering". No doubt Montagu Private Equity is relying on plenty of bums on seats to see a return on their £200 million investment.

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Comments

Anonymous 08 June 12 09:50

How long before we see a group of BPTC students sue the course provider? Certainly would give them some court experience.

Naturally they would have to prove the provider had misled them in some way and that would not be easy. But guess CoL is going to have to be very careful about what stats it puts out and what kind of promises it makes to wannabe barristers.

Anonymous 08 June 12 11:13

They may come out self-employed, but the rest of chambers pays for them during pupillage. Even if they are taken on, set reputation is key, so why would you take on anyone?

Furthermore, if someone is not good enough, the clerks won't pass them any work. That means further debt through chambers rent and expenses. Surely nobody would advocate that? The bitter truth is that the majority of BPTC students are not of the requisite calibre.

Anonymous 08 June 12 15:27

There are way too many students on LPC and BPTC who will never even have a chance of qualifying. They needed good advice early on to help them realise they were not good enough for the job. I know so many who are throwing money away on these courses. Ok, so maybe the course providers should be a little more selective - but if some jumped up rich kid who thinks he is all that wanted to pay me £16,000 for a qualification he would never bank, I would probably let him.

This problem comes from the culture of everyone having to be a winner, as opposed to the culture of real life.

The really sad thing though is that due to the flood of rich kids throwing money away, those less off are not going into the profession because of the stats. Plenty get pupillages and training contracts when there are better candidates who never even tried.
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