The scheme was launched in 2013 to assist students obtain pupillage and qualify as barristers.
The process operates by providing additional pupillages in chambers and other approved training organisations where their work is predominantly publicly funded. The four Inns of Court match pupillage funding already provided by chambers with a grant of £6,000 to fund the first six months of a second pupillage. Alternatively, a grant of £3,000 may be made where chambers only wish to take on one pupil.
The first round of the Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme supported pupillages beginning in 2014 and finishing in 2015. During this round, 14 pupillages were supported either fully or partially in 12 sets; it is estimated that of the pupillages supported, up to 12 pupils were offered tenancy (it is not possible to be precise about the pupillage to tenancy ratio as no individual is identified in chambers as a matched funded pupil).
The scheme has grown, with 41 grants being awarded for pupillages in 2015 and 44 in 2016; this was the first occasion that demand exceeded supply of funds.
Applications to match fund 2017-18 pupillages and 2018-19 pupillages are invited between 1 September 2016 and 19 October 2016. This deadline is earlier than in previous years to accommodate the new Pupillage Gateway timetable. Decisions will be communicated the week commencing 7 November. The online application system can be accessed via the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) website.
The COIC Grants Committee considers the applications on behalf of the Inns and decides which applicant-approved training organisations are to receive a grant. Please e-mail Hayley Dawes, COIC Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any further queries in relation to the scheme.
Contributor Nathalie Lieven QC, Chair, COIC Pupillage Matched Funding Grants Committee
Kate Lumsdon, 23 Essex Street
The year 2013 was one of possible crisis for the criminal Bar; its very existence potentially threatened by the proposals in the consultation launched by the then Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling MP. Confronted by the prospect of further fee cuts and the inexorable rise in numbers of solicitor advocates, 23 Essex Street decided we needed to take some clear steps to reduce our costs. Sadly, one of the most obvious cuts we could make was to reduce the number of pupillages we would offer that year from two to one. Our pupillage award is £25,000 and each pupillage is a serious financial commitment. None of us wanted to take this step, but it was a reflection of a profound concern about the future and illustrated how cuts in fees directly affect the future and sustainability of the publicly funded criminal Bar.
In recent years, our preference has always been to have two pupils. It is better for us and for them, as they are able to share what is an exciting but challenging year and provide one another with support. Our pupil advocacy training scheme is constructed around our having two pupils, with occasional Royal Navy pupils and third sixers joining in.
The COIC Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme allowed me to apply to the COIC to seek a grant towards the cost of a second pupillage. Our management committee agreed in principle that if we received an award, they would be inclined to reinstate the second pupillage. The award of £6,000 goes only part way towards the pupillage award, but it makes a significant difference.
This year we are interviewing for two pupils, and have already seen many promising candidates. We are grateful to the COIC for making this possible.
Esther Harrison, Head of pupillage at 1 High Pavement Chambers, Nottingham
Our practice area is criminal law. These are challenging times for publicly funded work, yet the need for good quality representation for prosecution and defence is greater than ever. Historically, we have had two pupils each year, but in recent years, we have felt reluctant to take on anyone, not least due to costs.
The Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme has been crucial in enabling us to take on at least one pupil in each year (2014 and 2015) and has led us this year to recruit four pupils over the next two years. We have been amply rewarded with successful second six pupils and junior tenants. We believe there is a future for the criminal Bar and our chambers. This scheme has encouraged and supported us as we seek to invest in both.