I should like to address the article written by Ronald Thwaites QC (The Lawyer, 3 November 1998) entitled "Stemming the young Bar tide".
I am currently on the Bar Vocational Course and to date have not been able to secure a pupillage. I have a first degree in Chemistry and 15 years experience in industry in a technical/commercial role.
Whilst reassured that eminent barristers in the profession are concerned with our situation, I cannot agree with Thwaites' suggestion to restrict entry to youngsters studying law as their first degree. This "closed" profession needs people who can bring varied skills, experience and educational and social backgrounds. We can assist greatly in the numerous changes mentioned in the article.
I have two alternative suggestions for solving the shortage of pupillages:
First, relax the requirement that the first six months of pupillage must be taken in chambers in England and Wales.
Second, change the system. I suggest chambers become businesses, with the head of chambers as managing director and all employee barristers salaried with a profit sharing/bonus scheme. Pupils would then be welcomed not as "people taking the very bread out of our mouths, by taking our work", but as assistants relieving barristers of their workload for little financial sacrifice.
I respectively submit to your readers, the Bar Council, Lord Irvine and Tony Blair, please think again.