20 January 2018

Bar regulator hosts lively debate on Future Bar Training options

8 July 2016

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) hosted a lively debate last night about the future of Bar training.

The debate considered the three proposed options for future routes to qualification as a barrister. The event was attended by a wide variety of interested parties including barristers, students, training providers and other stakeholders with an interest in how the next generation of barristers are trained and how they qualify.

The debate was hosted by the BSB. The regulator has yet to form a view on which option is best, but was keen to listen to arguments for and against each of the options before it publishes a full consultation later in the year.

The purpose of Future Bar Training is to reform the current training regime: making it more flexible, attracting a more diverse array of candidates, and better equipping future barristers for a changing market and the needs and expectations of users of legal services.

Last night, five guest speakers made arguments in support of the three options under consideration. (See "Notes to Editors" for a brief description of the options.) The speakers were:

  • James Welsh from BPP University, who spoke in favour of the "Evolutionary" option;
  • Derek Wood QC from Inns of Court College of Advocacy, who spoke in favour of the "Bar Specialist" (Two-stage BPTC) option;
  • Emma Piasecki from Northumbria University, who spoke in favour of the first approach within the "Managed Pathways" option;
  • Penelope Reed QC from the Chancery Bar Association, who spoke in favour of the second approach within the "Managed Pathways" option;
  • Daren Timson-Hunt from HM Revenue and Customs, who spoke in favour of the modular approach within the "Managed Pathways" option.

After each speaker had made their case, the debate was opened up to all of the delegates present. A wide range of questions, opinions and views were discussed; all of which the BSB will consider both for the upcoming consultation paper and for the ultimate decision that the Board will need to make on this matter in due course.

BSB Director-General and host for the evening, Dr Vanessa Davies said: "I would like to thank everyone who took part in this debate - especially our panellists. The issues generated by this discussion are complex and also very important. The views that we have listened to this evening are of real value to us, and we will make sure that they are appropriately reflected in our upcoming consultation paper."

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

About Future Bar Training

Future Bar Training is the BSB's programme of review and reform that will bring training regulation up-to-date and assure high standards in barristers' services for the future. It was launched on 31 October 2014.

About Option A, the "Evolutionary" option

This option proposes to keep the existing academic, vocational and pupillage sequences as they are, but to focus on liberalising the training, including increased flexibility in pupillage. It would remove a considerable amount of prescription in the BPTC, to be published this summer and further changes would be introduced in 2017.

Option B, the "Managed Pathways" option

This option proposes to retain the existing academic, vocational and pupillage sequences. However, three other routes would also be acceptable, including:

  1. a combined law degree and vocational training, similar to the current University of Northumbria qualification;
  2. a vocational training programme that is integrated with pupillage; or
  3. a modular approach that enables candidates to commit to training one step at a time.

Option C, the "Bar specialist" option

This option proposes to establish a qualifying examination, open to any candidate, which would test legal skills and knowledge. Candidates could prepare any way they choose, including a law degree or graduate diploma. Upon passing the examination, they would be required to undertake a training course, shorter than the current BPTC, which would focus on developing foundation skills for advocacy and pupillage would follow the completion of this course.

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

 

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk .