LC.N TCPH 2020

OOK tract ning Con ge Guide

HANDB 2020 The Trai & Pupilla

Find inside: 800 firms offering over 5,000 training contracts 190 chambers offering 390 pupillages

Vacation schemes Mini-pupillages Practice area insights Career timetables

Launching a career in law requires high-quality information. The LawCareers.Net website and Handbook are comprehensive, independent and authoritative resources. They provide information, advice, news and features, and offer the only comprehensive list of graduate opportunities in law, including over 5,000 training contracts and 390 pupillages. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A LAWYER

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Paul Philip Chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Richard Atkins QC Chair of the Bar

It gives me great pleasure to once again welcome you to The LawCareers.Net Handbook . We all know that the standing of the legal profession in England and Wales is one of the highest in the world. Solicitors are around 85% of regulated legal service providers and make an enormous contribution to our international reputation. We want to continue to play our part in making sure all would-be solicitors have reached the high standards expected of them before entering the profession. You will be aware that we are introducing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). This will make sure that, regardless of the training route potential solicitors choose, everyone has developed their skills and expertise to a consistent, high standard. So, what does this mean for you? Well, there are no immediate changes as the SQE will not be introduced until September 2021 at the earliest. Still, you might want to consider it as part of your plans. Regardless of whether you are looking at a training contract or pupillage, I wish you all the best in your training.

With all of its history and tradition, a career as a barrister may seem shrouded in mystery. As someone who came from a non- legal background, outside of London, I can tell you first-hand however that the Bar is open to you, regardless of your background. The Bar offers one of the most stimulating, varied, challenging and exciting careers available. Barristers are advocates and specialist legal advisors who play an extremely important role in helping individuals and institutions understand, pursue and defend their legal rights. The Bar’s reputation is respected around the world. Choosing a career as a barrister involves hard work, dedication and effort; but this profession offers real fulfilment to those who succeed. Pupillage provides aspiring barristers with the practical skills and experience needed to become a barrister. The pupillage application process is very competitive, but we are doing all that we can to attract and encourage the best candidates from the widest possible pool of talent. This handbook will help you with your application for pupillage and guide you through the various stages. It contains a comprehensive account of the training required for a career at the Bar, as well as information to help you decide to which area of practice you may be most suited. Good luck to all applying for pupillage. I hope you will enjoy a career in this wonderful profession, as I have.



Becoming a lawyer

Work experience

Postgraduate training


Training contract directory


Pupillage directory

Useful information




28 Key competencies 30 Commercial awareness 34 Application technique 39 Interview technique 44 Scotland and Northern Ireland 46 Alternative careers 52 Where did it all go wrong?


56 Work experience 62 LawWorks 65 Free Representation Unit 67 Vacation scheme insider reports 108 Firms that offer work placement schemes 112 Chambers that offer mini-pupillages


116 Postgraduate training 121 Financing the vocational courses 125 Course directory


137 The Law Society and the Junior Lawyers Division 139 The Solicitors Regulation Authority 141 The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives 144 Becoming a solicitor 146 Solicitor career timetable 204 How to use the training contract regional indexes and directory 205 Training contract regional indexes 275 Training contract directory

149 Types of law firm 151 Solicitor practice areas



454 The Bar Council 457 The Bar Standards Board 459 The Young Barristers’ Committee 462 Becoming a barrister 464 Barrister career timetable 466 Clerks 468 Types of chambers

471 Bar practice areas


518 How to use the pupillage index and directory 519 Pupillage index 531 Pupillage directory


586 Glossary 592 Useful addresses



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Becoming a lawyer

How to use this book Solicitor v barrister


10 13 14 19 23 25 28 30 34 39 44 46 52

Career timetable The legal scene

Getting the best careers advice

Diversity in the profession Choosing where to apply

Key competencies

Commercial awareness Application technique Interview technique

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Alternative careers

Where did it all go wrong?



Delivering your future in law

Our newsletter, LCN Weekly, is packed with news, profiles, opinion and advice about becoming a lawyer.

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How to use this book

The LawCareers.Net Handbook (LCNH) is designed to be your companion and adviser throughout your journey to becoming a solicitor or barrister. It is important that you use it correctly to get the maximum benefit. You are embarking on a learning process: learning what lawyers do and the different types of law that they practise; learning about the different types of organisation involved in law; learning how to become a lawyer and – possibly most importantly – learning about yourself, what you have to offer the profession and how to sell your skills and personality to employers. We advise you to divide your research and planning into stages. If you complete each one in order, you should have the knowledge and understanding required to make an impact when it comes to recruitment and selection. You should also remember that you need to continually top up your expertise – it’s much easier to learn steadily and gradually than try to cram in everything at the last minute. Stage 1: The basics A solid base of knowledge is important. Without this, your appreciation of your choices and opportunities will be severely diminished. The “Becoming a lawyer” section of the handbook introduces you to the core challenges ahead of you, while the “Solicitors” and “Barristers” sections explore the two main branches of the profession in more detail. Once you have done this preparatory reading, you should be able to answer the following questions with confidence: • What are the differences between a solicitor and a barrister? • What are the other types of lawyer? • What are the different types of law firm and who do they serve? • What are the different types of practice area? • How is a set of chambers organised? • What is the timetable for becoming a solicitor/barrister?

• Which postgraduate courses will you have to take? • Which bodies regulate and represent lawyers? • Why are vacation schemes/placements and mini-pupillages so important? Stage 2: Getting up to speed Once you have clearly established what needs to be done, you need to maintain an upward learning curve by regularly immersing yourself in the legal world and behaving, in effect, like a ‘mini lawyer’. You should read information provided specifically for aspiring lawyers such as LawCareers.Net’s newsletter, LCN Weekly, but also keep up with the professional legal press (eg, The Lawyer and Legal Week ), the national and international business press (eg, the FT and The Economist ) and specialist websites such as In doing so, you will begin to recognise the key news, themes and debates within the profession, see how the different parts of the law relate to each other and identify leading figures and organisations. Check out “The legal scene” in the handbook as a jumping-off point; your goal is to be sufficiently well informed that you could hold your own in a conversation among lawyers and engage in topics such as: • What are the major developments in the legal profession over the last year? • Have there been any major law firm mergers recently? • What are employers doing to improve diversity within the profession? • How will solicitors qualify through the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)? • How have legal aid cuts impacted access to justice? • What issues are likely to impact the industry over the coming years? Stage 3: Analyse yourself Your investigations into the basics of the law and ongoing contact with the profession should already have given you a good idea


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How to use this book

of the attributes that employers are looking for. The exact skill set may vary, but you can rest assured that you will be expected to be intelligent and able to communicate well, show determination, possess close attention to detail and operate well as part of a team. You need to review your experiences to pull out as many examples of these skills as possible and work out how to present them in the best possible light – employers like to see examples of go-getting, passionate, motivated people doing something constructive and interesting with their time. Read “Application technique” and “Interview technique” for more advice, and use LawCareers.Net’s MyLCN functionality to build up your record of achievements and activities. Things to consider include: • Can you give a dozen detailed examples of activities you have participated in that demonstrate skills relevant to working in the legal profession? • Can you explain articulately why you want to be a lawyer? • What are the weaknesses in your CV that you hope employers won’t spot and what are you doing to address them? • What is your USP? Stage 4: Narrowing the field We are only now getting to the stage of differentiating between employers. LCNH offers comprehensive listings of over 800 firms and nearly 200 chambers offering training contracts or pupillages. You can’t apply to them all, so you need to refine your search – read “Types of law firm”, “Types of chambers” and “Choosing where to apply” as a start. Use the indexing pages to identify firms/chambers by size, practice areas and location. Ideally, you should be able to identify a market sector you are interested in (eg, leading commercial firms in North West England) and work out which firms/chambers fall into this classification. Their directory entries in LCNH are your springboard for further research. You then need to look at

organisations’ own websites, explore legal press archives and do some Google-based digging. Key questions to research are: • What are their main work areas? • Who are their clients? • How do they make money? • What is their ethos? • Who are their competitors? • Where have they come from and where are they going (ie, history v ambition)? What now? The rest of LCNH expands on many of these themes. The sooner you start using it in earnest – understanding the challenge ahead, making a plan and acting on it – the better your chances. Most candidates who are unsuccessful fail because they have not followed the rules of the game. Take the necessary steps and you will give yourself the best chance of success. As ever, we wish you all the very best with your legal career and hope that LCNH can help you along the way.



Remember that you don’t need to read this book cover to cover to get maximum benefit from it – it all depends on what path you choose, either before you open LCNH or as you read it. This diagram illustrates the basic process of using LCNH, from initial research to applying for a job – although don’t forget that any specific information you need that is not covered by the chapters mentioned elsewhere in the diagram is likely to be in the more specialist chapters of the book. The colour scheme is the same as the colours used to separate each section of LCNH.

First steps Learn about the legal profession and identify the career you want:

• Solicitor v barrister (p10) • Alternative careers (p46) • The legal scene (p14) • Becoming a solicitor (p144) • The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (p141) • Becoming a barrister (p462)

Research Find out more about the qualifications and work experience you will need for your chosen profession, and learn about different careers available within it:

• Career timetable (p13) • Work experience (whole section) • Postgraduate training (whole section) • Solicitor practice areas (p151)

• Types of law firm (p149) • Bar practice areas (p471) • Types of chambers (p468)

Launching your career Use LCNH for details of how to apply for the right training contract or pupillage for you: • Choosing where to apply (p25) • Application technique (p34) • Interview technique (p39) • Getting the best careers advice (p19) • Training contract directory (whole section) • Pupillage directory (whole section)


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Solicitor v barrister

Sports Participating in sport implies drive, teamwork and communication skills, which are ideal for both solicitors and barristers. Acting/performing These are highly relevant skills for both branches of the profession. Whether you are a solicitor or barrister, you will be in the business of persuading people, and conveying information and ideas. However, the courtroom side of a barrister’s work is a direct application of these attributes, so the Bar may value them slightly higher. Commercial/business knowledge Whatever you do in the law, you will at some level be involved in running a business – be it as part of a huge firm or as a self- employed person in sole practice or at the Bar. Furthermore, you will often be working to assist the businesses of others. Firms of solicitors provide not only legal advice, but are also employed as business advisers with an eye on overall strategy. Barristers are more typically ‘hired hands’ for advocacy or for preparing highly specific legal opinions, but those at the commercial Bar must still appreciate and prioritise the business interests of their clients when preparing to advocate on their behalf. Legal work experience At trainee or pupil level, nobody expects you to know the law inside out. What they do expect is for you to have a relatively sophisticated grasp of the profession, its activities and its rhythms, as a way of showing that you have thought sensibly about why you want to become a lawyer. One of the best ways of doing this is to find a law (or law-related) environment in which you can learn what it’s all about. Eloquence As we saw above, the ability to communicate is the fundamental tool of the trade. The better

One of the most fundamental questions you must address when considering a career in the law is whether to become a solicitor or a barrister. To put it simply, a barrister appears in court, while a solicitor works in a law firm. However, the differences are much more complex than that. Some say that it comes down to whether you are an individualist (barrister) or a team player (solicitor). While it is true that a barrister is almost always self-employed and bound to other barristers only by convenience, and a solicitor may be just one worker in a law firm of thousands of people, in reality the situation is less black and white. Barristers are often involved in teamwork and some solicitors may spend many hours on their own drafting documents.

Here’s a general guide to some factors which may help you to decide.

Academic performance Fantastic academic results are the ideal underpinnings of every legal career. You will generally find a pretty close correlation between the best academic scores and the best (or at least the best-paying) jobs in the legal profession. This may be slightly more important for the Bar, as it is smaller and consequently even more selective. The Bar is also rather more weighted towards the traditional universities, to which the Oxbridge-heavy tenant lists at many chambers attest (although the Bar is working to address this bias). Positions of responsibility Having been the head prefect or leader of a youth group is an impressive achievement whichever strand you choose. However, positions of responsibility are often concerned with keeping hierarchies in order and thus could be described as management training. For this reason, they may be more highly valued by firms of solicitors who will have clear and rigid structures for their employees.



you are at communicating, the better a lawyer you will be. Again, the fact that a barrister must regularly stand up and talk in court means that this skill is more important at the Bar but it is still a key part of practising as a solicitor. Sociability The law is a sociable profession in which you can expect to meet large numbers of people from all walks of life. Crucially, you must be able to get on with your clients and other lawyers with whom you work. The legal community is intimate and sometimes close- knitted; it helps to be able to fit in and get on. Yes, there are legendary curmudgeons floating around (particularly at the Bar), but don’t think it’s advisable to become one of them. Self-reliance You’ll need a fair amount of self-reliance and self-belief whatever you do in law. Solicitors generally have a more definite career structure, but after a certain point it becomes dog eat dog at many firms. As a barrister, though, you are literally on your own: it’s your career and you’ve got to make it happen, make the most of it and deal with the quiet times. If you’re somebody who craves structure and order, then think again. Intellectual curiosity In reality, the area of law in which you end up will be the greatest driver of the intellectual content of your work. However, if you want to be a really serious analyst and provider of opinions on heavyweight points of law, then the Bar may be for you. Finances Quite clearly, it is right and proper that a career in the law should be available to all.

That said, the relevant course fees (especially at postgraduate level) mean that it is not uncommon for individuals to end up with debts of well over £45,000. Before you rack up this kind of bill, be realistic about your job prospects. And don’t forget that upcoming changes to the way solicitors and barristers qualify will affect the costs of pursuing this career. There’s more on this in the “Postgraduate training” section. Enthusiasm for dressing up Do you like wearing gowns and wigs? Do you feel that panto should be staged all year round? The Bar values tradition above virtually any calling and the recognisable outfits reflect this. Solicitors’ dress is, by contrast, dull, dull, dull (even on Fridays).

Commitment to social justice There remain many commendable

organisations and individuals in the legal profession who work tirelessly to overturn injustice and ensure that right prevails. Many will be involved in something socially useful (ie, pro bono ). If changing the world and helping people’s lives is at the core of your desire to become a lawyer, you will probably want to consider the barrister route and do some thorough research into areas such as human rights and criminal law. Further reading Solicitors – Barristers – In these sections you can read about the day-to-day life and work of solicitors and barristers at various firms and chambers.

Reality check: The decision as to which career suits you best rests on a number of factors concerning your abilities, temperament and – dare we say it – financial circumstances. Choose wisely.


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Solicitor v barrister

This table illustrates some of the differences between the two branches of the profession, including as they relate to demographics, working environments, career progression and salary.

Solicitors As of June 2019, there were 146,418 practising solicitors. The total number of solicitors on the roll was 195,660.

Barristers As of 2018, 80% of barristers (ie, 13,171) were self-employed (not including those in dual practice, registered European lawyers or second six pupils). There were a total of 16,598 practising barristers. Around 37% of all practising barristers are women (ie, 6,158 women compared to 10,348 men). BAME individuals make up 13% of all practising barristers (ie, 2,146). Mostly self-employed, so receive irregular (but often substantial) fees. Work mainly with solicitors and other barristers. Chambers and court-based. Engage more in one-off advocacy (ie, court cases).

Women make up just over 50% of the profession. However, many fewer women than men are currently at partner level – an average split in private practice is 67% male partners compared to 33% female. BAME individuals make up 21% of all solicitors. Mostly employed in private law firms, so receive regular monthly salary. Work mainly with individuals, companies and barristers. Office-based. Engage more in ongoing advisory and one-to-one client work.



Career timetable

Confused about the career path to becoming a lawyer? Follow the career timetable below to plot out your route into law.


A level

Intermediate apprenticeship

Paralegal apprenticeship

CILEx Level 3 Certificate

Non-law degree

Law degree

Solicitor apprenticeship


CILEx Level 3 Diploma

CILEx Level 6

Chartered legal executive apprenticeship



CILEx Fast Track

3 years’ qualifying employment

Pupillage Training contract


Chartered legal executive



Equivalent means cross-qualification

Further reading For more on the solicitors’ career timetable, see p146. For more on the barristers’ career timetable, see p464. For more on the chartered legal executive timetable, see p141. For more on legal apprenticeships, pick up a copy of The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2020 . Change ahead: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination Anyone who starts an undergraduate degree after Autumn 2021 will have to take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, a new assessment that must be passed to qualify as a solicitor. This will replace the current GDL and LPC courses, and the period of recognised training may also change. For more information, read the “SRA chapter” on p139 and go to LawCareers.Net – search “Solicitors Qualifying Examination”.


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The legal scene

This chapter examines the key issues facing the UK legal profession in 2019-20 of which future lawyers should be aware, as well as the cases and mergers that have made the headlines. “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change,” a clear- sighted aristocrat observes in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard , in what is a simple summation of a vastly complex issue that seems apt for today’s legal profession. In dozens of distinct specialisms, lawyers interact with companies, national and local government, institutions and individuals in almost every area of life, so it is no surprise that wider economic and political issues affecting their clients often have a knock- on impact on their work (find out more in “Solicitors’ practice areas” and “Barristers’ practice areas”). Of these, five key issues are pressurising the whole sector and driving profession-wide change in various ways. They can be divided into: • external factors – technology, the near- collapse of legal aid and Brexit; and • internal issues – equality and diversity in the profession, and changes to the way solicitors and barristers are trained. Tech and innovation In his influential book Tomorrow’s Lawyers and The Future of the Profession s, leading legal thinker Richard Susskind observes how during the “technological revolution” that swept the manufacturing industry over 20 years ago, manufacturers turned to external providers to assemble products and parts at a lower cost using technology. As advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation create revolutionary new possibilities (and challenges) for the legal profession, this trend has repeated itself. Many firms have outsourced document review and legal research tasks, plus non fee-earning parts of the business such as HR and recruitment. Firms feel pressure to cut costs as clients demand ever

more competitive fees and added value, which has also resulted in the widespread practice of employing paralegals on fixed-term contracts instead of more expensive solicitors. The real challenge for lawyers is to develop new, tech-based ways of delivering legal services as technology drives new ways of doing the same tasks. Solicitors, barristers and legal executives will still be needed, but clients in pursuit of cheaper, faster services are likely to sacrifice the human touch altogether for many basic legal functions in favour of an automated offering. The demand for change from the public is certainly there – in a survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released in June 2019, 58% of respondents felt that the legal system is “not set up for ordinary people.” The biggest barrier to accessing legal advice was costs, with 68% saying that they would not be able to access help because they can’t afford it. The SRA has pointed to the cheaper services enabled by technology as a way of mitigating the widespread lack of access to legal advice. The role of trainee solicitors is already being adapted to embrace technology. Junior solicitors and trainees have traditionally drafted simple contracts and reviewed documents, but this type of work is becoming increasingly automated. Now, trainees are more likely to manage the process of referring the initial document review to a third party that does the work at a lower cost, undertaking a secondary review of the document later. Management skills and an understanding of technology – and how to resolve technical problems – are increasingly important skills. Access to justice This year the United Nations (UN) sent its special rapporteur on poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, on a fact-finding tour of the UK. His final report was an excoriating critique of the austerity policies pursued by successive governments over the past nine



years, which the UN were told have resulted in “the systematic immiseration of millions across Great Britain”. Emphasis was given to the legal aid cuts introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which removed financial support for those unable to afford legal advice in most cases involving housing, welfare, medical negligence, employment, debt and immigration. In other words, as the report states, “access to the courts for lower-income groups has been dramatically rolled back.” The conclusion of Alston’s report is shocking: “The number of civil legal aid cases declined by a staggering 82% between 2010–2011 and 2017–2018. As a result, many poor people are unable to effectively claim and enforce their rights, have lost access to critical support, and some have even reportedly lost custody of their children. Lack of access to legal aid also exacerbates extreme poverty, since justiciable problems that could have been resolved with legal representation go unaddressed.” In employment law, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned that legal aid cuts are allowing employers to get away with discrimination. Alongside removing employment tribunal claims from the scope of funding, legal aid applicants must go through a mandatory telephone gateway, which rejects tens of thousands of cases on the basis of a single phone call. Figures reported by the Law Gazette show that from 2013-2018, over 33,000 calls alleging discrimination were made to the gateway service, but only 1,600 received face-to-face legal advice. Proving financial eligibility is onerous, an issue worsened by the fact that many legal aid applicants are employed on zero-hour contracts, which make finances more complicated. “Challenging such complex issues as discrimination should never be a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle,” said the commission’s

chair, David Isaac. “The system is failing if individuals are left to fight cases themselves at an employment tribunal or in court.” Brexit Whatever the results of Brexit, the good news for lawyers is that there will always be plenty of work to do in all kinds of areas – from immigration to commercial law and much else besides. In fact, Brexit has already generated a lot of demand for lawyers. Meanwhile, some international City practices would feel little impact in any Brexit scenario because their clients are largely based outside both the UK and the EU. However, for many lawyers, the impact could be much more serious. At the time of this book going to print, the UK is weeks away from leaving the European Union on 31 October, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted must happen with or without a trade agreement being reached with the remaining 27 EU member states. If the UK exits without a deal, UK lawyers will no longer have the automatic right to represent clients in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg and will instead have to try to secure audience rights through other means. There are various ways around the issue that may involve residency rights, citizenship and even taking exams, but no common solution. “A hard Brexit thanks to Boris Johnson means that those British lawyers without a workable and robust solution will lose their legal professional privilege and audience rights,” Trevor Soames, a competition lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan told Bloomberg in July. “Those working from London without a credible Brussels presence will lose out as I doubt international, non-UK, clients will go to London-based lawyers for Brussels-related work.” Brexit is an issue that many of us follow daily and are simultaneously completely sick of, so we’ll keep this section relatively brief, but


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The legal scene

clearly, those interested in working in the law should be engaged with the subject over the months and years ahead. Diversity in the profession Looking inwards, the legal profession is still nowhere near as diverse or as accessible to the range of people that it should be, especially the Bar, although important progress has been (and is being) made in some areas. BAME representation in the solicitors’ profession Some 21% of solicitors in England and Wales have a BAME background, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) latest statistics, with little variation according to seniority – 20% of partners in law firms are also BAME. However, there are differences in representation at senior levels when looking at firms by size. The largest firms (50 or more partners) have the lowest proportion of BAME partners – only 8%. This contrasts with small single-partner firms, 34% of which are run by a solicitor from a BAME background. The overall proportion of BAME partners in law firms has remained the same since 2014, which reinforces the perception among critics and equality advocates that the elite end of the solicitors’ profession still has a lot to do to show that it is serious about equal representation. Gender equality in the solicitors’ profession According to the Law Society, women have made up more than 60% of entrants into the solicitors’ profession since 1990. Women make up just over half of practising solicitors, but only 27% of partners in private practice. Clearly, law firms need to do more to promote and retain women to reverse the trend – highly noticeable within some organisations – of women leaving practice after having children.

process and many law firms are increasingly adopting all three. Another measure that the profession is attempting involves specific gender targets, which the Women in Law pledge, launched by the Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, demands of firms that sign up. Of course, with the pledge only voluntary, its effectiveness remains to be seen. What should focus minds are the gender pay gaps at firms across the profession, but particularly at the largest and wealthiest firms. An analysis by The Times shows that women working at the 10 largest firms are being paid 43% less on average than their male colleagues. The national median average wage gap is 9.6%. BAME representation at the Bar Just under 13% of practising barristers in 2018 were from BAME backgrounds, according to the Bar Standards Board (BSB), with the figure rising to 16% among pupil barristers. On the surface, it might seem that inaccessibility at the Bar is a smaller problem than it is made out to be, as at the last Census in 2011, 14% of the UK population was BAME – roughly in line with pupillage figures. But a deeper look at BPTC graduate and pupillage figures reveals a different picture. BPTC student and blogger, Blessing Mukosha Park, told LawCareers.Net in June: “I have had a lot of rejections in my quest for pupillage and have lost count of the number of times that I’ve been told ‘don’t worry, it’s a numbers game’ in the feedback I’ve received, but when you look at the statistics, that explanation becomes much harder to process. According to the BSB, of the 1,351 people called to the Bar in 2017-18, 741 were from BAME backgrounds and 586 were white. Compare this to the numbers who started pupillage in the same period, which show there were just 71 BAME first-six pupils to 390 white pupils. These figures further reinforce the extremely unfortunate perception of the Bar as an elitist

Flexible and agile working, mentoring and networking are vital aspects of that



institution that favours a particular social and economic background.”

the LPC will be replaced with the new two- part Solicitors Qualifying Exam in September 2021, while budding barristers will be able to take new, cheaper Bar courses instead of the BPTC from September 2020, including a new programme being provided by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy. (Find out more about the changes in the “Postgraduate training”, “SRA” and “Bar Standards Board” chapters.) Mergers There have been 12 mergers in the solicitors’ profession in 2019, as well as a major float on the stock market by multinational firm DWF. The Manchester-headquartered firm was also involved in two overseas tie-ups, merging with Korosidis Lawyers to expand its offering in Australia, as well as K&L Gates Jamka, establishing the firm’s first office in Poland. In the UK market, Penningtons Manches merged with shipping specialist Thomas Cooper. The combination has been influenced by Brexit; by bringing two sets of international offices under one umbrella, the £91 million-valued Penningtons Manches Cooper is well placed to serve a global client base and maintain access to Europe. Other mergers may also have had Brexit in mind, such as Fieldfisher with Dublin- based McDowell Purcell and Ince Gordon Dadds with Gibraltar-based Rampart Corporate Advisors. Legal developments – talking points Drones New laws on the use of drones come into effect from November 2019, in response to the shutdown of Heathrow Airport during a peak time in the winter holidays in 2018 after an unknown person repeatedly flew a drone into the airport’s airspace. The new laws will make it illegal to fly a drone weighing more than 250g without first registering with the Civil Aviation Authority and passing online safety tests.

Research by the BSB shows that last year, 84% of white candidates with a first-class degree and an ‘outstanding’ BPTC grade secured pupillage, compared with 71% of BAME candidates with the same grades. Among those with a 2:1, 44% of white candidates gained pupillage compared with just 23% of BAME candidates. And among those with a 2:2, 26% of white candidates were still able to secure pupillage in contrast to 8% of BAME candidates. Gender equality at the Bar The barriers facing women at the Bar – and some of the solutions to those barriers – are similar to those faced by women solicitors. According to a report by Suzanne McKie QC, a former barrister, and Ruth Whittaker, senior paralegal at specialist discrimination firm Farore Law, there is a “macho culture that can pervade chambers,” while “fewer women tend to move from call to practice and have a higher attrition rate once in practice (with the proportion of women falling as seniority increases).” A serious issue at some chambers is unequal work allocation, with male barristers treated preferentially in the assignment of new cases by clerks. The BSB has produced tools to assist chambers in their monitoring of work allocation as part of its equality and diversity rules handbook. Some are taking a more proactive approach, such as magic circle firm Freshfields, which recently launched its networking scheme for solicitors of all genders to connect with women barristers, with the aim of increasing instructions and client recommendations to women advocates. Changes to solicitor and barrister training Whether you aim to become a solicitor or barrister, training is set to change over the next couple of years. For aspiring solicitors,


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The legal scene

Supermarket equal pay claims The battle being fought by women

continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is engaged in the civil war in Yemen. The Court of Appeal ruled the continuation of arms sales, including Typhoon jets and precision-guided bombs, to be unlawful, although judges said that licences should be reviewed but not immediately suspended. The ruling is a blow to the UK arms industry, which sells 40% of its exports to Saudi Arabia. According to the UN, Saudi Arabia has been involved in serious human rights violations during its conduct of the war, including the deliberate targeting of Yemeni civilians. New precedent set for vulnerable renters Birmingham City Council was ordered by the Supreme Court to change its decision to declare a single mother of four “intentionally homeless” because she could not afford to pay her rent. The unanimous ruling in June 2019 creates an important precedent which expands the housing responsibilities of local authorities. The judgment also highlights how the Legal Aid Agency repeatedly refused to support the woman’s appeal even though she was in immediate danger of being evicted onto the street.

supermarket employees to secure equal pay with their male colleagues is creating shockwaves in employment law. Law firm Leigh Day is representing tens of thousands of store-based workers at the ‘big four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda – as they fight in the courts to be paid equally to their warehouse- based colleagues. Women make up most store staff, while men make up the majority of warehouse workers. The supermarkets have tried to block the claims, in some cases on trivial technicalities, but have so far failed. The battle continues and if they eventually lose, supermarkets could find themselves liable for billions of pounds’ worth of claims from unfairly paid employees. Anonymity for sex offence suspects? Singer Sir Cliff Richard and others are calling for a “re-balancing of the legal system” to ban the media from reporting the names of people accused of sex offences before they are charged. The BBC filmed a police raid of Richard’s home on suspicion of sexual assault, but he was never arrested and successfully sued the corporation for breach of privacy. However, MP and barrister Harriet Harman has pointed out that the law already bans police from naming crime suspects “save in exceptional circumstances where there is a legitimate policing purpose to do so.” Harman argues that the focus should be on ensuring that the police adhere to the existing guidelines, which officers clearly failed to do when investigating Richard. Major cases Here is a minuscule sample of the many important and fascinating cases heard in UK courts in 2019. UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia In June 2019 campaigners won a legal challenge to the government’s decision to

Free speech campaigners welcome libel ruling

It might seem strange to see free speech advocates celebrating two newspapers losing a libel appeal in the Supreme Court, but that is exactly what happened earlier this year when French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux won his case against the Independent and the Evening Standard , both owned by oligarch Evgeny Lebedev. The newspapers had libelled Lachaux while reporting on his lengthy divorce battle with ex-wife Afsana Lachaux. The case was a major test of libel laws in England and Wales, and although Lachaux won damages, free speech campaigners welcomed the outcome because it established that claimants must now prove “serious harm” to their reputations to bring a successful libel case.



Getting the best careers advice

They say that forewarned is forearmed, and this is never truer than when you are considering a career in law. You will need the best advice you can get, given that competition for the legal profession is fierce and the outlay is high in terms of both time and money. It’s never too early to seek careers advice. You really do need it from the very beginning in order to be in the know about careers fairs, open days, campus presentations and crucial work placement scheme/ mini-pupillage deadlines. One former head of graduate recruitment and graduate development at CMS has the following advice: “All the careers advisers I speak to are incredibly committed people with the best interests of the students at heart; but for whatever reason, some students do not use them as effectively as they could.” Available help We suggest that you use every resource on offer at your university/college careers service in order to be as informed as possible. Usually, resources include: • details of law fairs with visiting firms of solicitors and postgraduate course providers, and law firm open days; • a programme of campus visits by firms; • workshops on applications/CVs and interview technique; • names of people in the profession who are willing to talk to you (eg, former students who are now practising law); • up-to-date files on employers; • information leaflets and brochures; • recruitment literature for firms and prospectuses for postgraduate courses; and • copies of the trade press and The LawCareersNet Handbook to keep you abreast of the legal scene.

written applications and interview technique (eg, assisting with mock interviews). Careers advisers may also be able to help organise work experience. Although careers advisers are a highly valuable source of information and advice, don’t ask them for step-by-step instructions on how to fill in an application form or answer interview questions – too much rehearsal can kill individuality and prevent your true personality from shining through at interview. Claire Leslie, a senior careers consultant with experience at a range of universities and sixth form colleges, has this to say: “Your careers service should usually be able to offer you the following: one-to-one advice to help you decide the direction you should take and when things need to be done; practical help and advice on applications and interviews; and opportunities to meet recruiters. If you are away from campus, you can usually get advice from your careers service by email, telephone or Skype. Use the extensive information available to you – it’s never too early to plan your legal career.” Puneet Tahim, senior recruitment coordinator at Latham & Watkins, advises playing to your university’s strengths: “If a university has a particularly active student law society that manages the recruitment events calendar and has an up-to-date website with information about firms and deadlines, you should become a member. Alternatively, you might attend a university where the careers service manages the events and have all of that information readily available.” Meanwhile, Andrew Pearson, a barrister at 7 King’s Bench Walk, advises trying to get help from those already in the legal profession: “Contacts are perhaps the most difficult, but the most useful people to talk to. When you’ve worked out the basics, ask your careers service whether they can put you

Your adviser should also be able to give you some individual help with improving your CV,


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Getting the best careers advice

in touch with someone who works in a field which interests you. The better the careers service, the more likely they are to be able to do so. This person will be able to give you very useful, focused advice. Make the most of it by working out what you want to know and by following up any help that you get with an appreciative email or note. That way they’ll be keen to help you again, or even to put you in touch with other people who might be able to give you advice or assistance.” A significant minority of students don’t come to the profession straight out of full- time education. In the first instance, they should contact their local university and see whether they can get careers advice under the mutual aid scheme. Most universities are happy to provide any graduate with a period of assistance – in some cases, up to three years. They may find the careers service particularly useful in terms of obtaining tailored advice on ways to present previous experience to the greatest effect. Last, but by no means least, if you have a problem that’s keeping you awake at night, simply log on to www.LawCareers.Net and click on “The Oracle”. As its name suggests, this section of the website is the bearer of advice and wisdom. Check out the Oracle’s back catalogue of questions (chances are, someone has been troubled by the same issue), and see whether the answers apply to you. If you have an original question, feel free to email us for individual careers advice. Click on “Ask the Oracle” or email oracle@

up a Twitter account and following those who provide an active Twitter feed such as LawCareers.Net, Pupillage Blog, your career advice centres and the sets or firms you are interested in.” Puneet says: “It’s pretty simple these days to keep on top of deadlines and events, as most firms will heavily publicise these on their own websites as well as on the university careers websites.” Don’t rush Dick Lidwell, freelance careers adviser and former careers adviser at the University of Oxford, advises against panicking if you are still uncertain as to which legal path to take: “If you’re not sure whether it’s a barrister or solicitor you want to be, don’t rush into it. Take the time to explore; you can always come into the system a bit later. There’s no point applying until you know, and this is where your careers service comes in. We can help and guide you right from the beginning – don’t think that you can only go and see an adviser if you already know what you want to do! Obviously, we’re also there to help at the next stage of actually applying: targeting, CVs/forms and interview technique.” Dick’s top tips are as follows: “Not only make sure that your writing is clear and grammatically correct in your application, but also provide actual evidence for your statements, be yourself at interview and be honest at all times.”

Got what it takes? Above all, what you want most from a

careers adviser can be summed up in one word – honesty. One London barrister agrees on its importance: “Students should think about whether they stand a realistic chance of obtaining pupillage and forging a career at the Bar. If not, they should seriously consider whether it is worth undertaking the BPTC, with its attendant costs.” Any careers adviser worth his or her salt should make it clear

Common advice Dates and deadlines

Stay clued-up about on-campus events and application deadlines. Laura Newton, a barrister at Brick Court Chambers, says: “Use your university/law school website as a first port of call. You will be able to stay on top of events and deadlines by setting



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