I said when I started writing these In Practice posts that I might occasionally delve into the 'dark side' of the profession, where they have strange arcane customs (i.e. the Bar), and so it is today.
On Wednesday the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board published the first full edition of the catchily-titled Bar Barometer, an annual report on statistical trends within the Bar. The foreword tells us that this edition "considers the Bar of England and Wales over the period 2006-11, focusing in particular on the statistics and information relating to those who were successful in gaining pupillage".
I confess that I have not read all of its fifty-seven pages, but the summary of 'key facts' tells us much of what we need to know, including most of the following:
- The number of practising barristers grew steadily in the five years to 2010, from 14,890 in 2006 to 15,387 in 2010, although the growth rate has actually declined.
- 80.7% of the total 'practising profession' in 2010 were self-employed.
- The total 'practising profession' in 2010 comprised 65.2% men and 34.8% women.
- Of the 15,387 barristers who held practising certificates in 2010, 1,564 were from a 'black and minority ethnic group' ('BME'), although 1,938 did not disclose their ethnicity.
- 1,509 students were enrolled on the Bar Professional Training Course ('BPTC') in 2009/10 (out of 2,540 applications), of which 87% passed.
- There were 3,100 applications for the BPTC in 2010/11, an increase of 18% over the previous year.
- In 2010/11 446 First Six pupillages were registered, a decrease of 3%, and 477 Second Six pupillages were registered, a decrease of 3.6%.
- In 2010 QCs constituted 9% of the practising profession.
The chair of the Bar Standards Board Baroness Deech has expressed satisfaction that the report "demonstrates a positive representation of women, BME and disabled barristers", but the figures that have been making the headlines are the two that are not compatible: the increase in the number of applications for the BPTC and the decrease in the number of pupillages being offered. Clearly, there are going to be a lot of disappointed baby barristers out there, for whom the barometer will be registering extremely cold.