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Is it easier to become a barrister or solicitor?

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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
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    I think the question might be fairly said to be is it harder to *become* a barrister or a solicitor.

    Undoubtedly, it is harder to successfully be called to the bar. I suspect it is rather easier to be a criminal barrister than a magic circle solicitor. But in terms of getting there, the bar is unbearably competitive.

    Gray's Inn is putting out statistics that 1 in 6 BPTC graduates (are they called BPTC graduates?) successfully become barristers. I think that is an underesimate, I think it's closer to 3 or 4 in 10, but either way, it's lower than the number of people who come out of the LPC and obtain a training contract.
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    (Original post by The_Male_Melons)
    There is no easier path. After you done the llb or gdl- you get choice of either bar or solicitor. Both professions are hard to get into. TC are dwindling as with pupillages.

    Face it- Lawyers- is not the way forward.
    Luckily for us the BSB provides statistics. Pupillages aren't declining, they're stable (at least based on the released stats). They were running at about 900 first-six pupillages a year in the early-2000s, they dropped off a cliff in 2003 after the introduction of mandatory funding and never recovered to more than 550 a year.

    They're running at about 450 first-six pupillages a year.
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    there's no contest whatsoever, becoming a barrister is one hell of a journey, just getting a pupillage is ridiculously hard
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    Luckily for us the BSB provides statistics. Pupillages aren't declining, they're stable (at least based on the released stats). They were running at about 900 first-six pupillages a year in the early-2000s, they dropped off a cliff in 2003 after the introduction of mandatory funding and never recovered to more than 550 a year.

    They're running at about 450 first-six pupillages a year.
    I didn't know any of that. I know that tcs were dwindling due to financial reasons. I am surprised about pupillages. I know quite a few chambers that are no longer in existence. Again- finanacial.
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    (Original post by The_Male_Melons)
    I didn't know any of that. I know that tcs were dwindling due to financial reasons. I am surprised about pupillages. I know quite a few chambers that are no longer in existence. Again- finanacial.
    I would be surprised if TCs are still shrinking. Likewise pupillages. In 2007-2008 it was no surprise they were disappearing, But now I would be, though that would mean they were going south of even their rather stable 7-year trend. TCs, I wouldn't claim to have as much knowledge, and the SRA isn't as pendantic as the BSB when it comes to keeping stats.
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    (Original post by The_Male_Melons)
    I didn't know any of that. I know that tcs were dwindling due to financial reasons. I am surprised about pupillages. I know quite a few chambers that are no longer in existence. Again- finanacial.
    If I could explain my circumspection with the 1 in 6 figure, there were about 1200 BPTC graduates each year at the turn of the millenium, it went up to about 1800 in 2007-2008 before pulling back to about 1400 (based on memory).

    Pupillages have been at between 450 and 550 for the last 8 years, though far more so at the lower end of that scale in the last three or four years.

    edit: Lots o' stats on the BSB website

    http://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/...ge-statistics/
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    I think the question might be fairly said to be is it harder to *become* a barrister or a solicitor.

    Undoubtedly, it is harder to successfully be called to the bar. I suspect it is rather easier to be a criminal barrister than a magic circle solicitor. But in terms of getting there, the bar is unbearably competitive.

    Gray's Inn is putting out statistics that 1 in 6 BPTC graduates (are they called BPTC graduates?) successfully become barristers. I think that is an underesimate, I think it's closer to 3 or 4 in 10, but either way, it's lower than the number of people who come out of the LPC and obtain a training contract.
    The game will change again if the SRA abolish the minimum salary. When they started the consultation they assumed that the National Minimum Wage would apply (effectively a minimum of around £12K) but someone pointed out that trainees are legally apprentices and so the special NMW for apprentices of £2.60 per hour will apply.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    The game will change again if the SRA abolish the minimum salary. When they started the consultation they assumed that the National Minimum Wage would apply (effectively a minimum of around £12K) but someone pointed out that trainees are legally apprentices and so the special NMW for apprentices of £2.60 per hour will apply.
    The thing is, I don't think there's downward pressure on the salaries of trainees. But I think the self-employed nature of the bar creates, perhaps, a unique situation in which a barrister is being asked to contribute a part of the salary of a trainee, a trainee who will not just take away part of their income through their award, but compete with them in the market for advocacy services.

    They're all difficult issues, no one wants to see people from poorer backgrounds excluded from the professions, but perhaps the Inns should be the ones to pay those salaries? I don't know. It's a very difficult issue.
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    The thing is, I don't think there's downward pressure on the salaries of trainees.
    Look at the two tables at para 22 of the consultation document. That is where the pressure is.

    http://www.sra.org.uk/minimum-salary/
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    Probably solicitor in my opinion!
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    In terms of statistics to become a barrister, about 1 in 6 of those who apply in any given year are successful. However, lots of good people take two or more attempts to obtain a pupillage, so obviously your overall chances are higher if you keep applying.

    The statistics that suggest 1 in 3 of people who pass the BPTC obtain pupillage are slightly misleading (based on c.1500 people passing, and 500 pupillages each year). Don't forget that there are also transferring solicitors (who don't have to do the BPTC) who take a number of those pupillage spots, particularly in the higher paying commercial sets. If you look at the number who are called to Bar each year, it's actually more like 1 in 4 who obtain pupillage in the UK overall. Ex-solicitors are at an advantage with many sets, so that skews the statistics slightly.

    Generally, there are so many variables affecting each individual applicant that it's not worth worrying too much about statistics except as an overall picture of just how competitive it is! I think that it's much more useful to apply for pupillage and a scholarship before the BPTC, and use those results as a yardstick to determine if it's worth pursuing this as a career. If you don't get any kind of scholarship or any first round interviews, I think it's a mistake to do the BPTC. You're better off spending another year building up your CV and then reapplying the year after.

    PS The BSB website makes interesting reading to bust a few myths about Oxbridge and the Russell Group. It's more like 50% Russell Group (including Oxbridge), and 50% other universities - though of course this fluctuates in any given year.
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    (Original post by Nigel85)
    In terms of statistics to become a barrister, about 1 in 6 of those who apply in any given year are successful.
    I have no idea why you were negged, that's an excellent post.

    With re to solicitors, I recall that only about 5% of OLPAS apps were from transferring solicitors (and the BSB can/does exempt solicitors who do the Bar Transfer Test from either a first-six or their entire pupillage)

    With regards to waiting to do your BPTC, I see your point, however the stats show that less than 30% of successful OLPAS pupillage applicants had a pupillage secured prior to the BPTC. I think it's fair to say that for the best candidates, they can secure a pupillage prior to undertaking a BPTC, but for others? Or is it just that many people don't apply until they're in their BPTC year?

    With re to two attempts, that's absolutely correct. In 2010, a majority of successful pupillage applicants had completed their BVC in 2008 or the preceeding 3 years. About 30% completed it in the year prior.

    I think it's fair to say we can tell by looking at a CV whether someone will get pupillage or not. Stats are somewhat irrelevant because all things are not equal. People should focus more on their own CV and how to improve it
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    (Original post by Nigel85)
    #
    PS The BSB website makes interesting reading to bust a few myths about Oxbridge and the Russell Group. It's more like 50% Russell Group (including Oxbridge), and 50% other universities - though of course this fluctuates in any given year.
    Absolutely correct. I posted here a little while back about that, I think it was about 25% from Oxbridge in total in 2009-2010 (though that was a decline from about 35% the previous year, I think).

    There were some people from the Open University who got pupillage; I think this indicates the bar does operate on merit.

    The Iteshis of this world make me very angry indeed.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Look at the two tables at para 22 of the consultation document. That is where the pressure is.

    http://www.sra.org.uk/minimum-salary/
    Thanks Nulli. But isn't there a sense in which the trainees are getting something (training, the ability to qualify) in exchange for putting up with a crappy salary for a couple of years?

    (Btw, I'm loving that link. Finally I now know approx how many training contracts there are a year)
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    I have no idea why you were negged, that's an excellent post.

    With re to solicitors, I recall that only about 5% of OLPAS apps were from transferring solicitors (and the BSB can/does exempt solicitors who do the Bar Transfer Test from either a first-six or their entire pupillage)

    With regards to waiting to do your BPTC, I see your point, however the stats show that less than 30% of successful OLPAS pupillage applicants had a pupillage secured prior to the BPTC. I think it's fair to say that for the best candidates, they can secure a pupillage prior to undertaking a BPTC, but for others? Or is it just that many people don't apply until they're in their BPTC year?

    With re to two attempts, that's absolutely correct. In 2010, a majority of successful pupillage applicants had completed their BVC in 2008 or the preceeding 3 years. About 30% completed it in the year prior.

    I think it's fair to say we can tell by looking at a CV whether someone will get pupillage or not. Stats are somewhat irrelevant because all things are not equal. People should focus more on their own CV and how to improve it
    Can we?
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    Thanks Nulli. But isn't there a sense in which the trainees are getting something (training, the ability to qualify) in exchange for putting up with a crappy salary for a couple of years?

    (Btw, I'm loving that link. Finally I now know approx how many training contracts there are a year)
    The Law Society has now responded to the consultation document.

    http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/secure/...lsresponse.pdf

    Whilst I agree with its assessment of the cack-handed approach of the SRA to this question, it does live in a lefty-statist timewarp with very little understanding of or interest in the market.
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    (Original post by FMQ)
    Can we?
    Well, to a certain degree. Perhaps I can rephrase that.

    When you see a CV/application from someone who took 1st class honours at Merton in Jurisprudence and then did an LLM at Harvard, who has references saying they're the most brilliant student the referee has taught in over 20 years, who has interned with MPs and at the UN and has nine mini-pupillages under their belt, you know they'll get pupillage.

    Likewise, when you see a candidate who graduated in Nigeria, who barely passed his BVC/BPTC, and has nothing in the way of scholarships or mooting or mini-pupillages, you know they won't.

    Of course there's a lot in between. But in my experience I'm usually right in my prediction; if you have a 2:1 or better from an RG university, if you have an Inn of Court scholarship and/or decent number of mini-pupillages, the likelihood is that you will get one.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    ...
    '

    Thanks for the link

    The idea of an elitist profession is one that solicitors have been trying to move away from and the SRA has a regulatory duty to encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession supports this aim
    What is the SRA on about? Elitist? No. Elite? Yes!

    The reason I become quite irritated by a lot of this is that I do see brilliant students from comps and grammar schools who play by the rules, do well, and obtain training contracts and pupillages from excellent firms and sets.

    It seems that those rabble-rousing for the most part are the ones who are intellectually and/or interpersonally incapable of being a legal professional (Iteshi being an excellent example).

    BME and female solicitors are currently over represented at this end of the wage scale and it seems very likely that they would be disadvantaged by any reduction in the minimum payable
    This really makes me roll my eyes. If I can speak through the prism of the bar, more than half of pupils are female, and 25% of pupils are BME (while BMEs are 10% of the population). While I wouldn't be so myopic and ridiculous to say that white people are discriminated against (clearly they're not, the 25% probably has to do with the drive of ethnic minority candidates to succeed), the idea that there is in any way a problem is absurd.

    With re to the overall issue of salary, there is unfortunately a very serious issue about the pay gap between the top and the bottom. The top does very well indeed, while the bottom (i.e. the criminal bar) often barely earn enough to pay their mortgage, get to where they need to be etc. I'm not well-versed about how these issues work in the solicitors profession, but I expect there is something similar happening.
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    Well, to a certain degree. Perhaps I can rephrase that.

    When you see a CV/application from someone who took 1st class honours at Merton in Jurisprudence and then did an LLM at Harvard, who has references saying they're the most brilliant student the referee has taught in over 20 years, who has interned with MPs and at the UN and has nine mini-pupillages under their belt, you know they'll get pupillage.

    Likewise, when you see a candidate who graduated in Nigeria, who barely passed his BVC/BPTC, and has nothing in the way of scholarships or mooting or mini-pupillages, you know they won't.

    Of course there's a lot in between. But in my experience I'm usually right in my prediction; if you have a 2:1 or better from an RG university, if you have an Inn of Court scholarship and/or decent number of mini-pupillages, the likelihood is that you will get one.
    Yes there is a lot in between, and no, you are totally wrong, these people have about a 1 in 4 shot of pupillage. This is quite a change in tune from your old view in a market which significantly worsens each year.
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    (Original post by wildcolonialboy)
    '

    Thanks for the link



    What is the SRA on about? Elitist? No. Elite? Yes!

    The reason I become quite irritated by a lot of this is that I do see brilliant students from comps and grammar schools who play by the rules, do well, and obtain training contracts and pupillages from excellent firms and sets.

    It seems that those rabble-rousing for the most part are the ones who are intellectually and/or interpersonally incapable of being a legal professional (Iteshi being an excellent example).



    This really makes me roll my eyes. If I can speak through the prism of the bar, more than half of pupils are female, and 25% of pupils are BME (while BMEs are 10% of the population). While I wouldn't be so myopic and ridiculous to say that white people are discriminated against (clearly they're not, the 25% probably has to do with the drive of ethnic minority candidates to succeed), the idea that there is in any way a problem is absurd.

    With re to the overall issue of salary, there is unfortunately a very serious issue about the pay gap between the top and the bottom. The top does very well indeed, while the bottom (i.e. the criminal bar) often barely earn enough to pay their mortgage, get to where they need to be etc. I'm not well-versed about how these issues work in the solicitors profession, but I expect there is something similar happening.
    The firms that are in many ways the best equipped to train are the traditional High Street general practice firms. In a sense, they can turn out competent lawyers with their eyes closed. However, the issue for them is almost entirely financial, and that can be seen with the salary spike at the minimum salary figure.

    In practice what they are doing is creating a body of 1930s style managing clerks who will have all the skills of solicitors but be permanent paralegals/caseworkers whatever; or alternatively pushing the training period back, so that they are getting a year or two as a paralegal, and then when they have enough skill and experience to be worth £17K to the firm, giving them a training contract. In practice therefore they are earning a training contract salary, when they have the skills to be a 1 or 2 year PQE solicitor.

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