24 August 2019

Structure of pupillage

Structure of pupillage

To practise as a barrister, all students must undertake a pupillage for a period of not less than twelve months and complete any further training prescribed by the BSB. Pupillage is divided into two six-month periods: the non-practising period and the practising period.

The non-practising period ('first six') 

During the non-practising period, pupils shadow their pupil supervisor. During the non-practising period pupils may not accept any instructions, except for noting briefs, where they have the permission of their pupil supervisor or head of chambers. During this time, pupils must also complete the Pupillage Advocacy Course.

The non-practising period must be undertaken in a continuous period of six months in a Member State of the European Union, in what are currently known as Approved Training Organisations.

Unless exempted from the requirements, currently, chambers must pay each pupil a minimum of £1,000 per month.

at the end of the non-practising period, pupils must submit a certificate from their pupil supervisor certifying that the non-practising period has been satisfactorily completed. Provided that the pupil has completed the Pupils Advocacy Course, the BSB will grant a Provisional Qualification Certificate. 

The practising period ('second six')

During the practising period, pupils are entitled to supply legal services and exercise Rights of Audience provided that they have the permission of their pupil supervisor or head of chambers and have been issued with a Provisional Practising Certificate. During this time, pupils are strongly advised to complete the Practice Management Course.

All or part of the practising period may be satisfied by the following forms of external training, provided that the prior approval of the BSB is obtained:

  • With a solicitor, judge or other suitably qualified lawyer who is not a registered pupil supervisor;
  • In an organisation which is not an approved Pupillage Training Organisation but which, in the opinion of the BSB, provides suitable training and experience.

The practising period must commence no later than 12 months after the completion of the non-practising period. It must be undertaken in a continuous period of no more than nine months.

Unless exempted from the requirements, currently, chambers must pay each pupil a minimum of £1,000 per month, either by way of an award or guaranteed receipts. If chambers pay the pupil by way of guaranteed receipts, then the pupil must receive no less than £1,000 each month. This means that chambers may have to make up any difference between what the pupil has billed and the minimum.

At the end of the practising period, pupils must submit a certificate from their pupil supervisor certifying that the practising period has been satisfactorily completed. Provided that the Practice Management Course has also been completed, the BSB will grant the pupil a Full Qualification Certificate.

Upon completion of pupillage, pupils must apply for a Full Practising Certificate in order to commence practice as a barrister.

 Future Bar Training (FBT) - What's changing?

Pupillage will remain an essential element of training for the Bar, so all prospective barristers will continue to have to complete this component of training successfully in order to be authorised to practise.

Any organisation providing a pupillage can maintain the system of having pupil supervisors supervise only one pupil at a time. However, the new rules, when they come into effect in 2019, will permit supervisors at the self-employed Bar to supervise up to two pupils (one practising and one non-practising). Greater flexibility will be permitted in the structure of pupillage supervision for the employed Bar, subject to approval through the authorisation process.

The normal duration of pupillage (and other forms of work-based learning) will continue to be twelve months (or part time-equivalent) although the new rules do permit it to be longer - up to no more than 24 months - as long as this is authorised by the BSB.

The normal duration of the non-practising period of pupillage (or work-based learning) will stay the same - six months for full-time 12-month pupillages. A provisional practising certificate can be applied for after this time. An AETO may exceptionally apply for a variation to this norm as part of the authorisation process.

The minimum funding award for pupillage or work-based learning is to be set in line with the Living Wage Foundation's recommendations. The rate for the minimum pupillage award that will apply from 1 September 2019 will be £18,436 per annum for pupillages in London and £15,728 per annum for pupillages outside London. The minimum award will then be increased in future with effect from 1 January each year, the first such increase being in January 2020. 

From 1 September 2019, AETOs will be required to assess pupils in line with the threshold standard and competences specified in the Professional Statement.

The need to complete courses in Forensic Accountancy and Practice Management during pupillage or another form of work-based learning, will cease. A new mandatory Negotiation Skills course will be introduced and will need to be completed during this component of training.The compulsory advocacy course will remain and will still need to be completed during the non-practising period of pupillage or work-based learning.

Pupils who have trained under one of the new pathways, (ie those how have only taken an AETO set Ethics exam during the vocational component), will need to take and pass the centralised Ethics exam during pupillage.

More information about changes to the rules governing pupillage is provided in the August 2018 Pupillage Handbook which is available to download on this webpage.

If you would like to read more about all the FBT changes in one place please visit our Future Bar Training webpage.