The Bar Council must be delighted with the success of PACH, its centralised system for processing applications for pupillage. Some 85 per cent of chambers chose to take part in the scheme and 1,700 students, who each made only one application on disk naming up to 20 chambers, are currently being matched with compatible sets.
The main advantage of a centralised system for many practices is that it banishes the dreaded heap of on-spec applications – some handwritten, some typed, some on disk – that has to be sorted through every year. There is also a better chance that those applications received will be from suitable candidates.
It is also fairer on the candidates who are spared the necessity of writing sometimes hundreds of letters before they find a place.
The Law Society has several times considered the possibility of introducing a similar clearing-house scheme for trainee solicitors. It commissioned a survey just over a year ago and appointed an independent consultant to analyse the results.
Some bigger firms were strongly in favour as they are particularly inundated with unsolicited applications. But the initiative collapsed through lack of support and misgivings over technicalities.
Law Society legal education manager Jacky Courtney said only this week: "We were getting a lot of letters from firms who were getting hundreds and thousands of applications every year saying surely there must be a better way. But in the end nothing happened because not all the key players would take part."
Now that PACH has shown that such schemes can work – albeit only in the smaller environment of the Bar – is it not time for solicitors to think again, and encourage the Law Society to introduce an modern, streamlined system for allocating traineeships, rather than the current random blizzard of CVs?