Bar clearing wins vots of confidence

The Bar's new computerised clearing system for trainee barristers has been given the thumbs-up by barristers and candidates.

Around 1,700 applications have been received to date and 85 per cent of chambers have joined the scheme.

The Pupillage Applications Clearing House (PACH) is now processing its third tranche of applications, and has set a final deadline for acceptance of offers of 1 November. Candidates not placed by then go into the 'pool' for a second matching process which runs until late December.

A total of 241 sets of chambers elected to take part in the scheme. Despite delays, blamed by a Bar Council spokeswoman on “postal strikes and computer problems”, the majority appear to be satisfied.

Peter Bennett, practice manager at James Hunt QC's chambers at 36 Bedford Row, said his set was more than happy with the applications received through PACH. He said: “PACH has forced us and everyone else to think hard about how we should present our chambers to candidates.”

Around 15 per cent of chambers have elected not to participate. Anne Bell, pupillage committee head at Holborn Chambers, said: “I prefer getting individual applications. I'm particularly keen on handwritten letters.”

She said her chambers had also not been happy with the application form, which catered badly for mature applicants.