Law Review: No bar to the Bar – a good website from The Bar Council

While debate will continue on the chances of getting a tenancy (and this is to be encouraged)  – the Bar has  always been a competitive profession (certainly in my time in legal education of 30 years) – this new initiative following Lord Neuberger’s Diversity report is a good one.

I am interested in becoming a barrister. Do you have more information?

This site is for you and anyone interested in a career at the Bar. A barrister is one of the most exciting and challenging careers you can find. However, it is competitive and requires hard work and intelligence, but anyone with these skills can succeed. There are barristers from all backgrounds and ethnicities in practice and you can find out more about this in the film – the Bar is open to all.

I enjoyed watching the films.  I hope this new website will succeed in persuading prospective law students – from all backgrounds – to think about a career at the Bar.

Have a look at the new Bar Council website for prospective barristers!

Professor Richard Moorhead has written on this issue. We have exchanged thoughts in the comments section.  I do hope the Bar Council puts the statistics (which are available on the main site) on this site.  I can see no reason for the Bar Council not to do so.

I do appreciate  Richard Moorhead’s point and it is a fair one – and the perspective of others on twitter this afternoon.  Be that as it may;   I am pleased to see an initiative which encourages students to have a look at the Bar as a career – it is not as it ‘may’ once have been.   It continues to be a very competitive profession. It is difficult to get in.. but at least the message is being put out that the difficulties do not include ‘background’.  I am happy to write a blog post in favour of that sentiment.

I also take the view, having enjoyed teaching students for many years, that students are not daft. Far from it.  If students don’t pick up on warnings on the Bar Council site, the law school sites and elsewhere, I would be surprised.  I can say that I did  have the pleasure of meeting a few lazy students but they weren’t daft either.   I suspect that some of them went into investment banking or showbiz!   It wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Law Review: No bar to the Bar – a good website from The Bar Council

  1. Saw your post…… not sure I agree on the misleading issue. Stats are important – very.

    BUT… at least part of the profession is making a stab at getting across the important message that opportunities exist – subject to drive and intelligence – and that background is not a bar.

    I understand the point you are making – I would, on that score, not surprisingly – make the point that law schools are complicit in the over supply?

    As far as I know – the Bar Council does not force the law schools to take ever increasing numbers of students? I could be wrong, of course.. in these strange times.. but, I do not believe I am on that one!

    I have no problem with competition…. provided people know the odds…. and the law schools have not, until recently, been open themselves on that score?

  2. Aha, an agent provocateur!

    The number of law students is falling.

    Saying less than one in 2 get in is misleading it is is closer to 1 in 5 or 6. With a position, and a well funded video resource, with which to take a lead the Bar takes the hard sell rather than hard facts approach. So much for it being a moral problem or for the Bar taking a lead.

    I’d like law schools to be even more open about the problem. I see a number of them sponsor your site (;-)) I think it is fair to say I have blogged reasonably strenuously in favour of accurate information. I’m in sloganic mood: neither panic nor propaganda, but accurate information is what we need.

  3. Richard – Indeed. I have no problems with good law schools sponsoring free materials in my online mag Insite…as you know. They are good law schools. Cardiff sponsored Insite!

    The important issue is reality – what are the chances of a career? Am I barking up the wrong tree, not because I am not bright enough, but because *I don’t fit in*

    The Bar Council is trying to address this latter perception..and I welcome that.

    The stats should be provided though. The BSB requires law schools to put stats to prospective students. I can see no reason why the Bar Council should not do so.

    I hold no candle for anyone – whether advertiser or not! This, I am sure, the advertisers know.

    It is an interesting step forward…… have suggested, by email, that Bar Council put stats up.

  4. There are two issues of “access” at the Bar.

    The first, and the one which effects all prospective barristers, is that there is only a very small chance (I think about 1 in 10, it may be a bit higher) of becoming a practising barrister if you do the Bar course.

    It is therefore very difficult to access the profession, no matter where you come from. Realistically you will need a 2:1 at least and probably lots of other baubles too.

    The second “access” issue relates to diversity. It is harder to get into the Bar if you are from a disadvantaged background probably for the same or similar reasons as it is difficult to get into most professions: less access to education, funding of studies, professional contacts etc. It may not actually be harder to get into the Bar if you are from a disadvantaged background than it is to become a doctor, architect etc.

    I think the profession has a responsibility to explain to the first group (which includes the second) that the odds of getting in are very low indeed.

    I also think it has a responsibility to the second group to explain that even if you are from a disadvantaged background, you may have an equal (or equally bad) chance of getting in as anyone else, since the profession isn’t as plutocratic and snobbish as it used to be. This may involve a bit of selling the Bar, as otherwise they may think the profession is stuffy and weird based on their preconceptions.

    Problems arise when you confuse the two groups, and start selling the profession to everyone. I can’t see that as a particularly useful thing for the professional bodies to be doing, since there appear to be no shortage of applicants: in fact, there is an enormous surplus. I think the new Bar Council website does confuse the two groups slightly, because, as Richard Moorhead points out, it is aimed at and will be viewed by everyone considering the profession. And it doesn’t mention, except vaguely, the statistics.

    This may lead, as Richard says, to an X Factor-style free for all, where students think that “it is their time” so they will ultimately get into the profession. But unlike the X Factor, which costs a few pounds to enter (it may even be free), the Bar costs tens of thousands. The fact is that they probably won’t get in, and in my opinion any information for students should give this dirty secret top billing.

  5. Richard – I have absolutely no problem with good people and organisations helping to pay the costs of providing free info on Insite law.

    No advertiser would be daft enough, I can be certain of that, to exercise influence over any law blogger. Never even had a hint of it.


  6. Adam – Thank you for your comment.

    There is an ‘enormous surplus’.

    Students aren’t daft…I’ve taught many thousands in my time…. and few were daft…lazy? A few were lazy!.

    Most students know the odds and if they don’t do their research on the Bar Council main website and Bar Standards Board website, where the stats are available, – and take note of warnings which law schools are required to give….. are they acting sensibly?

    The important message to get across is twofold. Difficult…but not difficult just because you come from a ‘different’ background to the ‘perception’ of the Bar of the past?

    I don’t think that is such a bad message to put?

    I can’t see why Bar Council can’t put stats they have on main site onto the new site… or why they would wish not to?

  7. the odds aren’t really the point for an individual, though, are they? they only work on a statistically-significant sample. otherwise the only sensible response to the odds of getting a pupillage being 10/1 against (or whatever) would be to go and bet on something shorter. unless of course the potential return on stake money is sufficiently large to make the bet a good one. you see? there isn’t really any point in talking about the overall odds other than to make a general point about thinking carefully before you bet your time and money on the bar course. it’s the wrong language.

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