Shocking statistics show that only 20 per cent of student barristers are likely to gain a pupillage in chambers via the Bar's Pupillage Application Clearing House (Pach).
The statistics, revealed by the Employed and Non-Practising Bar Association (ENPBA), show that for the year 1999-2000 only 411 offers were made out of a total of 2,062 applicants.
This is a further drop from last year's low of 22 per cent.
Andrew Dickie, ENPBA's elected Bar Council representative, says: "Considering the effort which students put themselves through to obtain this qualification, these figures are a disgrace.
"They underline the need for an independent rights of audience application so that at least some of these graduates may exercise rights of audience and practise their legal skills via an alternative route."
A spokesman for the Bar Council says the figures are misleading and says the Crown should weigh in."I think [the figures] are unfair because there are actually 700 pupillages on offer this year.
"Perhaps they should be encouraging their employers, particularly the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service to offer more pupillages themselves," he adds.