Compas scheme goes it alone

John Malpas reports

A GROUP of chambers which successfully set up its own pupillage clearing house system has decided not to join the Bar Council's new scheme.

The majority of the common law sets in the Compas scheme will not commit themselves to the Bar Council's new Pupillage Applications Clearing House System (Pach) until they have seen how it performs.

Pach, launched next year, promises to be one of Bar Council chair Peter Goldsmith's enduring legacies.

But while the Compas organisers say they will not compete directly with Pach, their decision not to join is a setback for the venture.

In its first year Compas successfully processed 650 pupillage applications for its 11 participating chambers.

There were 120 interviews for the 31 pupillages on offer.

Compas secretary Martin Spencer, of 4 Paper Buildings, said the majority of the participating sets had decided to stick with Compas.

"We have invested a huge amount of time and trouble into the scheme," he said. "It's not a decision which was taken lightly. We don't want to compete with Pach and we will work closely with the Bar Council to plan our interviewing timetables so they complement each other."

Like Compas, the Bar Council's Pach scheme is based loosely on the long established clearing scheme for universities.

It will feature a standard application form with a unified timetable for handling applications, interviews and offers of places.

The Bar Council is lobbying hard for chambers to join the voluntary scheme.

Letters inviting chambers to sign up are due to be sent out in mid-February.

Mark Stobbs, of the Bar Council professional standards department, said the Pach scheme had generated a lot of interest.

Commenting on the Compas decision, he said: "It's disappointing in as much as it would be disappointing if any set of chambers decided not to join. But we certainly don't regard it as fatal."