19 January 2018

Future Bar Training – help us shape the future of legal education and training for the Bar

Future Bar Training (FBT) is our programme for change in education and training.

On 20 February we published a pamphlet, which described how legal education and training might change as a result of the FBT programme. In it, we detailed how changing the ways in which we regulate can make education and training for the Bar more consistent, innovative and flexible, while also removing unnecessary barriers which currently prevent many prospective barristers from accessing the profession.

We will be providing regular updates on FBT progress, as well as letting you know when there are opportunities to give us your views and opinions.

In the meantime, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a brief summary of what is happening as part of the FBT programme.

The Professional Statement
We are developing a Professional Statement which will describe the knowledge, skills and attributes that all barristers should have on their first day of practice. The Statement will be used to define our training requirements; providing a clear, objective point of reference for the capabilities a barrister must be able to demonstrate before we first authorise them, and therefore indicating what must be delivered through education and training prior to practice.

Academic requirements
Using the Professional Statement, we will establish what is required from the academic stage of training. We will continue to require candidates for the Bar gain an appropriate foundation in legal knowledge, but we expect to place more emphasis on principles, concepts, the ability to think and research independently, and the other skills of a lawyer.

Our early work on the Professional Statement indicates that certain capabilities of a barrister, reliably demonstrated at a high level by degree qualification, are important in underpinning their skills in practice. But we need to be clear what those capabilities are - and to see if there are alternative means of acquiring them.

Vocational requirements
The vocational requirements of training for the Bar are currently fulfilled by the BPTC, the cost of which (in London) is in excess of £17,500. We aim to minimise the risk that our own requirements might add to that cost. For example, we can make sure our own regulations do not constrain the training market unnecessarily, and give training providers greater flexibility to innovate.

We also want to change our approach to overseeing vocational training requirements, and expect to focus on two areas:

  • strengthening assessment of candidates' knowledge and understanding, so we can be less involved in these aspects of training delivery; and
  • focusing more on standards of skills training, including advocacy. 

Taken together, we see the opportunity for our vocational training requirements to be set in a way that gives freedom and flexibility for both candidates and training providers.

Pupillage
We think there is a good case for us to place less emphasis on prescribing the structure of pupillage. By referring to the Professional Statement, we expect to place more emphasis on a barrister's knowledge and skills upon authorisation. And to safeguard high standards, we anticipate developing a clearer role for pupillage training organisations.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
We are giving barristers greater responsibility for their own professional development and aim to introduce a new CPD scheme in 2017. Rather than completing a mandatory number of CPD hours, barristers will be required to assess their own development needs, across all aspects of their practice.

Get involved
We will post details of how to participate in FBT consultations, workshops and focus groups on the get involved page of our website.

To read more about our Future Bar Training programme, please click here.

If you have a question about the FBT programme, please email futurebartraining@barstandardsboard.org.uk.