PUPILLAGE SPECIAL: It’s a match

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Record numbers of chambers are applying to the COIC Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme, now hitting its stride. Nathalie Lieven QC reports

2016/ 2017 saw 40 pupillages supported by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme, helping pupils in 37 sets of chambers. 


This is an impressive improvement on the 14 pupillages supported in the first year of the scheme. While precise figures are not available, we know that almost 80% of supported pupils in 2015 went on to become tenants.

Encouragingly, more and more sets of chambers are applying for match funded grants. COIC has already received 31 applications for 2018, as part of a growing trend in chambers applying for grants two years in advance.

How the scheme works

The process operates by providing additional pupillages in chambers and other approved training organisations, predominantly engaged in legally aided work. It is a requirement of the scheme that chambers undertake that the pupillages being funded are additional to those they would have offered in any event. The Inns of Court match pupillage funding, already provided by chambers, with a total grant of £6,000 to fund the first six months of a second pupil, where chambers are taking two or more pupils. Where chambers only wish to take on one pupil, the grant will be in the sum of £3,000. From 2018 chambers will be able to elect to receive an increased level of funding of £7,000 for match funded pupil grants for pupillages beginning in 2018, provided that all pupils in chambers receive an income of at least £14,000 for the year (a figure closer to the London Living Wage).

How to apply

Applications to match fund 2018-19 and 2019-20 pupillages are invited between 1 September and 19 October 2017. Decisions will be communicated during the week commencing 6 November. Online applications can be made here. To find out more please email Hayley Dawes, COIC Secretary: hdawes@coic.org.uk.

Contributor Nathalie Lieven QC is Chair of the COIC Pupillage Matched Funding Grants Committee

ZENITH CHAMBERS

Bronia Hartley, Head of Pupillage

Like many sets, Zenith continues to feel the downward pressure on publicly funded work. The impact has been felt both by chambers in general and our family, crime and housing teams in particular. Nonetheless, we wish to maintain our commitment to publicly funded work. We believe pupillage to be at the heart of this commitment. In both 2015 and 2016 we recruited two pupils where otherwise we would only have recruited one. The only reason we were able to recruit these additional pupils was the funding we received through the COIC Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme. There is no doubt that this scheme is making a real contribution to the future of the publicly funded Bar.

CENTRAL CHAMBERS

Joseph Lynch, Head of Pupillage

In late 2015, we found ourselves at a crossroads as a chambers; we are a small, mainly publicly funded set and were considering how we could expand. The idea of pupillage was raised. It had been roughly ten years since we had offered pupillage but the tenants were clear that this option should be explored.

The financial aspects of offering pupillage were an obvious concern but the Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme allowed us to take a chance on pupillage and, in October 2016, we took on our first pupil. We are delighted that, with the support of the Inns of Court, we have been able to offer this opportunity in a very restricted market and our chambers can now help maintain the quality of representation that is the hallmark of the independent Bar.

Thanks to the Pupillage Matched Funding Scheme we can offer a further three pupillages over the next 18 months; opportunities for recent graduates that simply would not have been there without it. At a time when access to the profession is of great concern to chambers, the scheme helps small, specialist sets like ours to offer pupillage in areas being deserted by those solely searching for financial gain rather than a drive to help the disadvantaged.

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Nathalie Lieven QC

Nathalie is Chair of the Pupillage Matched Funding Grants Committee. She specialises in public law, human rights, planning and environmental law. She took Silk in 2006 and was previously on the A Panel of Treasury Counsel.