Advertising Bar

I noticed the full page advert on the front inside cover of last month’s counsel magazine and raised an eyebrow. It was a ‘desperately seeking pupillage’ advert from an individual. Determined, I thought. Creative. And pretty cringeworthy. But the boundless entertainment that Counsel provides no doubt drew me onwards and I passed over it without much more thought.


But it seems it has caused the raising of more important eyebrows than mine because a whole page is devoted to this little whoopsy in this month’s Counsel. The Bar Standards Board has issued a statement about why such adverts are ‘out of line’ with the BSB’s pupillage advertising requirements’ on equal opportunities grounds. I take their point which is made also in a lengthy letter from a disgruntled pupillage seeker (who has rather ironically managed by dint of this letter’s publication to demonstrate his own articulacy and dogged determination and hence obtain a free advert for his own suitability for an offer of pupillage) – all pupillages must be advertised and all applications must go through the advertised route.


But what I really want to know is how on earth this one slipped through the net? In fact I know how this slipped through the net, although the Editorial Board of Counsel is made up of members of the Bar, no doubt advertising and the revenue generated from it are very much the domain of Lexis, the commercial enterprise who are contracted to publish this magazine and to make it viable and presumably profitable. No doubt questions of the regulation of pupillages were not at the forefront of the advertising bods at Lexis.


So what I really really want to know is – for the facilitating the public destruction of this young man’s self-respect by the publication of the advert in the first place, and no doubt for further reducing his prospects of securing a pupillage via the publication of the BSB statement and associated letter (which at least insinuates that he has improperly attempted to gain an advantage over his fellow pupillage seekers) – how much did Counsel magazine charge?


It may have been naive or unjustifiably optimistic to think such an advert would miraculously produce results (okay it was definitely naive and over-optimistic), but he should never have been allowed to put himself in this position by the Bar’s own magazine. I hope Counsel magazine has apologised to the poor bloke and refunded his money.

2 thoughts on “Advertising Bar

  1. I cannot help but feel you are being overly harsh towards the pupillage seeker concerned. Whilst optimistic certainly, he did, at least, manage to do something different from the remainder of the huge over supply of candidates, who are exepcted to do nothing other than bang their head against a brick wall in the forlorn hope (now reduced in the worsening economy) that the wall will give way before their own heads.

    If, as appears to be the case, the advertiser did contravene the code, questions should not only be asked of Lexis (who, let’s face it, are as popular as a dose of crabs) and, moreover, the BSB for their continued supervision and promotion of a broken system which reflects well on no one, least of all the BSB.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I give all credit to him for persevering and for trying to do something innovative (it’s not so long ago I was racking my brains to think of how I could make myself stand out from the Oxbridge crowd). But really, it was never going to work. I agree with you that the system is the problem. Not only does the system permit the taking of vast sums of money for more BVC students than the system can possibly support, but the cost of this advert I should think was the final insult (and anyone who knows anything about print media knows that the inside front cover is one of the most expensive advertising slots to buy). It really is an indictment of the system and anecdotal evidence of the lack of confidence that non-traditional students have in the system that they have to go to these lengths to get someone to pay attention to their talents. Sadly I don’t think the poor chap has a future in graphic design either, but I hope he succeeds in one shape or form. Pupillage seeking sucks. It raises my blood pressure all over again just remembering how extraordinarily stressful it was.

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