More than 70 per cent of students considering a career at the bar have said they would prefer to be self-employed, according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted by the Young Barristers’ Committee last month (February) in response to the Legal Services Act (LSA), which could see barristers lose their self-employed status in favour of a partnership structure.

Chairman of the YBC Alexander Learmonth, who instigated the survey, said he wanted to see what affect the changes would have on recruitment to the bar.

“This gives a good indication as to what will happen in terms of recruitment. If fewer people apply for the bar because they’re put off by the changes it will mean a smaller talent pool to choose from,” explained Learmonth.

Of the 377 students who took part in the survey, those who were against the changes said they wanted to be able to take the credit for their own hard work. One respondent claimed keeping a self-employed status would “stamp out free riding” colleagues.

But Learmonth was surprised to find that 11 per cent of students surveyed “had no preference” as to whether a barrister was self-employed or employed by their chambers.

“I think it shows that what is important to some students is the idea of advocacy rather than the structure in which you do it,” he said.

The results of the survey have been passed onto the Bar Standards Board for consideration.