Interviews · No Pupillage · Which Chambers?

Wall of Shame Update

wallA source sings to me that Lamb Chambers (on neither the wall nor the buttress and so previously in a neutral position) has gone straight to the top of the buttress of acclaim charts by sending out the following rejection letter (so far as I can tell to all unsuccessful candidates).

Lamb Chambers regrets to inform you that your application for pupillage at these chambers has not been successful. There were well over 200 applicants for just 2 places and with such stiff competition it was inevitable that we would have to reject many very strong candidates such as yourself.

We must apologise for the tardy manner in which your application has been considered. We encountered insuperable problems with the OLPAS system this year and in the end were obliged to print off and sort all applicants by hand. The automated method for notifying applicants of the progress of their applications was unworkable and as a result we are obliged to transmit all email rejections individually.

Lamb Chambers is unlikely to subscribe to OLPAS next year and if you too have been inconvenienced by this system then we would like to extend our apologies on behalf of the entire Bar to you for submitting aspiring pupils to such an appalling ordeal.

And so say all of us – but in this case someone actually has said it. Good.

In an ideal world the authorities would establish what happened with the Portal and publish it. This is not a call to identify anyone responsible, but rather to demonstrate that what went wrong has been understood and sorted. I have always supported OLPAS as a system (see my very first post of all) but I think Lamb Chambers (who make the position clear for all to see here) have got this one right. Better go it alone than another year of a collective effort going so disastrously wrong.

What is needed now is urgent reassurance that next year will not just be better, but that it will be perfect. Otherwise OLPAS is in trouble. And I still think that would be a shame. There is plenty to be said for making the system a level playing field. However, at the moment the field may be level but it’s also muddy, treacherous to negotiate and full of clods.

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12 thoughts on “Wall of Shame Update

  1. I’m with Anya – massive snaps to Lamb for such a response. I do hope they’ve given their opinion of the entire SHITTY application process both to the BSB, and the Portal ‘designers’ ( I think I can safely use that term in its loosest sense possible). Since I find it faintly absurd to believe that the entire mess is the responsibility of one person, I am all for naming and shaming those involved; it might give the powers that be the g enuine kick up the backside/impetus so badly needed in order to honestly deal with the entire situation ( which now borders on the epically farcical) before any more embarassment is visited on the arbitary and confusing manner in which a profession such as the Bar recruits its next cohort of practising members.

  2. Lawminx – as someone who has experience in these matters I would not be too harsh on those who built the portal; although good web designers will be poractive and make suggestions on improvements, typically web designers will respond to brief and do what they’re asked to do.

    IMHO in this case the blame should be laid squarely at the feet of those who engaged them; it is truly frightening to hear that the site was built without consulting students or chambers as to their requirements.

    Pupillage portal: EPIC FAIL

  3. Anon, I am inclined to blame both the BSB – who seem to have comprehensively absolved themselves of any responsibility for the whole mess – as well as the page designers.

    The very best case scenario to be hoped for in any post mortem is that, somewhere along the line, there will be at least a faint acknowlegement by the powers that be that a serious breakdown in communication occured between both those responsible for briefing the designers with regard to the content of the page, those who actually RAN the subsequent scheme, and those responsible for general tech support.

    The worst case scenario is that EVERYONE will wash their hands of the whole sorry matter ( I personally, and rather cynically, believe that this is the most likely outcome), leaving the situation completely unremedied; mass frustration will continue, and all participating chambers will leave the scheme forthwith, since it has nothing to recommend it with regard to either ease of use or efficiency, judging by the comments made by Lamb.

    I think we are agreed, though, that the whole thing has been an absolute procedural disaster, from beginning, to end.

  4. A big up to LC, for having the gumption to step out from the shadows. Whilst the aspirant cohort has no clout, presumably that is not the case for the Heads of discontent chambers who should rightly be putting a welll polished brogue up the jacksie of the BSB.

    The concern may now be that more chambers may now be inclined to opt out of the PP. But that will remove the PP limitation on the number of applications an individual can make, thereby adding to the volume of total applications in the system. When there is, in any event, a student bubble, this could only serve to exacerbate the current unwieldiness of the whole process.

    Consideration must be given to the time and cost the system imposes on chambers. A manual sift through 200 lengthy applications for only 2 places cannot be sensible and, whilst not doubting the sincerity of pupillage committees, the inclination to cut corners must be both present and forgivable when faced with such a huge task.

    In the hope that someone, somewhere in authority decides change is needed, perhaps the idea of turning the PP into a database needs to be revisisted. Aspirants can upload their cvs and personal statements on a rolling basis and chambers can then search and source applicants to be called for interview.

  5. One wonders if this is the death knell of any collective OLPAS-type system since it appears to serve neither the applicant or chambers.

    We may all have to gird our loins for next year when the numbers of Non-OLPAS sets move from being a quite small to a significant minority.

  6. Want a wall of shame update?

    Pendragon Chambers couldnt even be bothered to tell applicants that it had no intention of taking pupils on this year – after all the fuss it made with respect to application deadlines. No letter, no communication to this effect on its appalling website, no reasons given why. Pathetic.
    Misrepresentation of the highest order, or so it seems to me.

    1. I have had similar experiences applying to Angel Chambers in Swansea. They fail to even acknowledge application forms that are sent. Very poor effort.

      I have to say that I found Pendragon to be very good though when I visited them for a mini-pupillage. Very friendly and decent quality chambers. Surprised to hear about your experience.

  7. Kudos to LC for that one 🙂

    Just read it out to The Boy (who is decidedly NOT a lawyer but has had to suffer OLPAS through me, this year) and he had a laugh too – and said I should apply to them next year 🙂

    The one problem with lots of chambers going non-OLPAS is the removal of a proper ‘newsflash’ system. One of the good aspects about the PP is the ‘sort by date’ (when it works properly), but it would be easier for the lazier applicants like myself if things were updated on the front pagee without having to log on.

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