It will become effective from 1 September 2010 and provides, in one place, all necessary information for training organisations, pupils and supervisors alike.

The handbook  was produced following the Review of Pupillage, chaired by Derek Wood CBE QC, which addressed issues relating to Approved Training Organisations (“ATOs”), pupil supervisors and recruitment and funding of pupils – dealing with both the self-employed and employed Bar.

Whilst ninety-five observations and recommendations were identified by the Review, below is a summary of the major points:

Regulations and guidance

  • Regulations and guidance concerning pupillage have been clarified in a new Handbook.


  • Each ATO should appoint a director of pupil training to oversee pupillage.
  • Bar Standards Board (“BSB”)  IT systems for registering details of ATOs, supervisors and pupils are being updated.


  • In order to ensure fairness to all candidates, selection panels must contain at least one member who has received formal equality and diversity training.
  • Pupillages must continue to be advertised but participation in the Pupillage Portal will remain voluntary.

Equality and diversity

  • The facility for part-time pupillages should be noted. 
  • Pupillages must be funded and the minimum amount of the pupillage award must be raised from £10,000 to £12,000 a year (once approved by the Legal Services Board (“LSB”)).


  • The standard of performance which a pupil’s work must achieve is defined as the standard at which the work (oral advocacy or written) is capable of rendering a real and valuable service to the client. Work must not be considered satisfactory unless it achieves that standard. Pupils must finally be signed off  by all those involved in supervision.
  • The four core skills (conduct; advocacy; conferences and negotiations; and legal research and drafting) will continue to be the focus of training.
  • Defined standards and checklists for specialist areas (as determined by the Specialist Bar Associations) must continue to be used to verify that specialist training has also been satisfactorily completed. 


  • The compulsory Advocacy and Practice Management Courses delivered by the Inns and Circuits must remain compulsory. Advocacy trainers must be registered with the BSB.

Quality Assurance

  • Training for supervisors is being strengthened, and overseen by the BSB. Supervisors must attend the course in order to be registered, and attend a refresher course every five years. Those who have neither attended nor supervised for five years will be removed from the register.
  • Procedures for dealing with grievances or complaints must be publicised.
  • A Quality Assurance scheme for the monitoring of pupillage is being developed, possibly integrated with the chambers Monitoring Scheme.

The future

  • Some restructuring of the BSB secretariat and committees is likely to be necessary in order to deal with pupillage issues.
  • The likely changes in the delivery of legal services and the range of structures within which barristers may practise will not diminish the need for practising barristers to undertake a rigorous and properly supervised pupillage. 
  • Where recommendations will require a change to the Bar Training Regulations or the Code of Conduct, adherence will not be formally required until these changes have been approved by the LSB. It is hoped that these reforms and recommendations will be welcomed by the LSB who will continue to see the efforts being made by the profession to review and reform education and training in order to maintain the very highest standards for the Bar of England and Wales.

Valerie Shrimplin is the Head of Education Standards at the Bar Standards Board