What I have found really worrying about the way that people are pretending to support pupils whilst pretending that I do not, is the way in which they have phrased such “support”. Far too many of the reactions I have seen are full of self-serving ersatz indignation and can be fairly summarised as: “Look at me. I can show I’m down wid da kids by saying they contribute value by helping established figures do their research and answer questions about new law and sit there taking notes. And, if I say so, I’ll look well cool and gain even more cred by calling out a silk”.
And in response to Coffee v Pupils
I don’t know if he means me but I hope he doesn’t.
He has now accepted that pupils contribute. He responded to what @lincolnslawyer wrote. He has publicly said that:
I ought to make it clear that of course pupils contribute something during pupillage.
Neither Sara (@lincolnslawyer) nor I were trying to get cred. But we both come from the same position. You see, @lincolnslawyer and I both had a mentor whilst were searching for a pupillage, we in fact had the same mentor: ‘Silk Cut’. Both Sara and I did death penalty work pre pupillage. Both Sara and I had a job doing our own advocacy, managing our own caseloads and instructing counsel pre pupillage. Both Sara and I took a paycut to become pupil barristers.
I am incredibly grateful (as I know she is) for the support ‘Silk Cut’ gave us. I have no doubt that both of us feel that we owe something to the next generation and will protect them where we can. That’s why I wrote what I did, not to get ‘cred’. And, to encourage junior members of the bar to become more involved in our own future.
Also, I would ask him to remember, anonymous, sobriquet or by real name, it takes a lot of courage for junior members of the bar to publicly contradict silks.
And it’s when I started thinking about courage that I realised something. We weren’t brave at bar school. Again, we were outside moaning, we’d send the occasional clipped email, but we never wanted to rock the boat. The fear was, that by rocking the boat our BVC (now BPTC) provider could narrow those pupillage odds even further.
I had vowed to email, or write to the powers that be when I got pupillage. But, I didn’t. There’s a lot wrong with our current system of legal education, in particular the BVC/BPTC course and some of the providers, ne’er shall it improve without the intervention of barristers.
Shoulder to shoulder
The Bar will survive. And it will do so by Simon Myerson QC running a blog about how to get pupillage. I hope fellow Silks will consider how to protect the squeezed middle of the bar. It will survive by ‘Silk Cut’ mentoring more bar school students. I hope others at his level will look after the youngsters like me. It will survive if @lincolnslawyer and I look after pupils, current and future.
So I am going to put my money where my mouth is:
I am going to write to Professor Andrew Sanders the Chair of the Education and Training Committee of the Bar Standards Board. I am going to make some suggestions to him about how we can improve the BPTC. In particular, I am going to suggest that each provider has local junior barristers who are available to be contacted about problems with courses. I am going to ask that those junior barristers visit the local provider and are accessible. I am going to ask what is being done about numbers of entrants compared to pupillages. I am going to ask that a junior barrister as well as a senior barrister is part of the team that does the annual provider visit. I am going to ask that real thought is given to having discussions with banks about their finance packages for BPTC students.
Is there anything else you want me to write? Stick it in the comments section or tweet me.
And I’m going to email Benjamin Wood and Tope Adeyemi, two of the junior members of the committee who I know and ask them to lend their support.
So, let’s put our shields together. Let’s all sign up.
And when we’re all together you might just see me and a blogging QC rap battle for a laugh.