Is there a difference between Work-based learning and Pupillage?

Work-based Learning is the final component of training for barristers in England and Wales. It is commonly referred to as ‘pupillage’. These terms may be used interchangeably.

What is an AETO?

This is the term that we use for all organisations that are authorised by us to deliver Bar training, including the work-based learning component. It is short for Authorised Education and Training Organisation. All organisations that provide work-based learning must apply to become authorised as an AETO.

Why should we offer pupillage?

Why should we consider offering pupillage?

If you are thinking about offering pupillages but are not sure, this article has some helpful insights from organisations from the employed Bar.

Are we already authorised to take pupils?

Types of organisations that can be authorised as an AETO

We are a newly authorised BSB entity. Are we able to apply to become authorised as a work-based learning provider?

Yes, provided that your business model supports work-based learning with adequate resources and policies.

We have a number of years’ experience offering training contracts for solicitors, how easy is it for us to offer pupillage alongside training contracts?

As an experienced training provider, you are likely to have policies and procedures in place that may be adapted for the purpose of providing pupillage. There may be some opportunities to combine training for trainee solicitors and pupils from which they can both benefit.

Do we need to be regulated by the Bar Standards Board or another Approved Regulator in the legal sector to apply to become authorised as a work-based learning provider?

No. It is not compulsory to be regulated by an Approved Regulator to apply to become authorised as a work-based learning provider. We do not place any restrictions on who may apply to become an AETO. If you are unsure about whether you will be able to meet our requirements, please contact us.

We are a specialist law firm employing paralegals, solicitors and barristers but only operate in one area of the law, can we offer pupillage?

Yes. It may also be the case that chambers providing pupillage will operate in one area of law either predominantly or entirely.

We are a corporate legal entity with branches nationwide – do we need to apply for authorisation for each location individually?

If you are planning on training pupils across multiple locations, you may submit one application form but would need to provide details of all locations to be authorised as pupillage providers.

The process to become authorised as an AETO

Is the application process difficult?

The authorisation process is designed to ensure that all organisations that are authorised to deliver work-based learning meet our minimum standards and the principles of flexibility, accessibility and affordability. If there is any aspect of the application process that you are finding difficult, you can contact us by email ([email protected]).

You are asking for a lot of policy documents for pupillage, does this mean we need to draft new documents before applying?

Not necessarily. You are likely to be able to adapt existing policies and process documents that you have within the organisation for other purposes, eg for the training of solicitors or management/support of employees.

Do you have examples of applications/best practice?

Our published guidance document has tool tips and links to other relevant guidance to support you when preparing your application. We do not publish sample/template policies or other pupillage assessment documents.

Pupil supervisors

I want to be a Pupil Supervisor. What do I have to do?

It is for the AETO to determine who is suitable to be a pupil supervisor. The eligibility criteria and training requirements for pupil supervisors are set out at Part 4B of the Bar Qualification Manual.

Do our pupil supervisors have to attend training run by the Inns?

No. The AETO can organise its own training for pupil supervisors, but the training must meet the criteria set out in Part 4B of the Bar Qualification Manual.

Advertising pupillages

Why do we need to advertise pupillage when we have a number of really good solicitors and paralegals in-house?

To ensure equality of opportunity for all prospective pupils and to meet the Principle of Accessibility indicators within the Authorisation Framework. Compliance with the principals of Fair Recruitment is key to the authorisation process.

Our organisation requires roles to be advertised internally first. Can we do that?

You must meet our requirements for the advertising and recruitment of pupillages in Part 4C of the Bar Qualification Manual. Any exception may require a waiver from our advertising rules. Please contact us if you wish to discuss your specific situation with us.

How much does it cost to advertise on the Pupillage Gateway?

There is no fee to advertise on the Pupillage Gateway. If you wish to use the Gateway platform for the administration of your recruitment process, this is subject to a fee. The Gateway is administered by the Bar Council. Further information and contact details are available on the Pupillage Gateway website.

Do we have to wait for the next Gateway recruitment cycle to advertise a pupillage?

Yes, you will need to comply with the mandatory timetable for advertising and recruitment of pupillage (see Part 4C of the Bar Qualification Manual) unless you obtain a waiver of those requirements from us. The application form and guidelines for the waiver are available to download from our website.

Pupillage agreements/contracts

Our pupils will be on employment contracts. Do they need to have a separate pupillage agreement too?

Not necessarily. All pupils must have a written agreement in accordance with the guidance at Part 4D of the Bar Qualification Manual. The written agreement should not affect the employed status of the pupil, or the obligations of either the AETO or the pupil in relation to employment and related law. If the employment contract already covers the minimum terms specified by us, a separate pupillage agreement is not needed.

Paying pupils

How are pupils in the employed bar funded?

All pupillages of BSB entities must be funded in accordance with the Pupillage Funding Rules in the BSB Handbook. Other types of AETOs must abide by the National Living Wage legislation. This is covered in Part 4E of the Bar Qualification Manual (updated in January, each year).

Do we need to pay all of our pupils’ expenses?

Arrangements should be recorded in the written pupillage agreement or supporting organisation expense policies. For BSB entities, expenses must be funded in accordance with the Pupillage Funding Rules in the BSB Handbook. This is covered in Part 4E of the Bar Qualification Manual.

Do we need to ensure that trainee solicitors are paid equally to trainee barristers?

No; however, pupillages must be funded in accordance with Part 4E of the Bar Qualification Manual (updated in January, each year).

Can pupils in the employed bar ‘draw down’ on funding?

AETOs are not obligated to provide ‘draw down’ funding to pupils although some choose to offer this as a means of meeting the Accessibility Principle of the Authorisation Framework. Any arrangements for drawing down funding should be clearly set out in your Pupillage Policy and your Written Agreement for pupils.

The Professional Statement competences

How easy is it to use the Professional Statement if you have never trained barristers before?

We have published guidance on the use of the Professional Statement as the assessment tool for pupillages at Part 4J of the Bar Qualification Manual. This includes case studies and feedback from early adopters of the Professional Statement.

What happens if we do not practise oral advocacy? How are we expected to meet the requirements of the Professional Statement?

It is your responsibility to design a training programme which enables pupils to demonstrate all of the relevant competences of the Professional Statement. If it is not possible to do so within your organisation, you may need to consider establishing secondments with other organisations/pupillage providers and this would need to be considered as part of your authorisation application. Secondments are covered in Part 4J of the Bar Qualification Manual.

Our pupils will not be practising in court when they finish their pupillage. Why do they have to meet the advocacy requirements in the Professional Statement?

We do not make any distinction about the mode of practice a barrister will be entering into upon full qualification. The Professional Statement is a universal set of competences that must be demonstrated in order for a full practising certificate to be issued.

Where can I get help?

What support is available to the Employed Bar who are interested in becoming an AETO to deliver pupillage?

Our content on the Bar Standards Board website contains important and helpful information and we encourage you to read it, including the Bar Qualification Manual, the Authorisation Framework, the guidance document for prospective applicants, and the Professional Statement. We encourage informal discussions with prospective pupillage providers. If this is something you are interested in, please contact us.

What support is available to the Employed Bar once they have been approved as a work-based learning provider?

Our content on the Bar Standards Board website, as above. You can also contact us by email.

Thinking of withdrawing from offering pupillages?

As a small organisation we may not be able to deliver the type of training you require from us anymore, who should we talk to about this?

We would recommend that you contact the Authorisations Team for an informal discussion before making a decision to withdraw from providing pupillage training.

Apprenticeship pathway

We have been thinking about legal apprenticeships, how would these differ to barrister pupillage or solicitor training contracts?

We have approved an apprenticeship route to Bar training in principle, but it is not yet available in practice. We are currently working with a number of organisations who are interested in delivering barrister apprenticeships. Please get in touch with us if you are interested, by emailing [email protected]

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