19 August 2019

“Professional Statement” could be the key to unlocking flexible routes to the Bar, says regulator

15 April 2015

Using a Professional Statement to define what a newly authorised barrister should be able to do from "day one" - the point of being issued a Full Practising Certificate - could be the key to making qualification routes to the Bar more flexible and innovative, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has said.

The barristers' regulator hopes that providing a clear reference point for the knowledge, skills, and attributes a newly qualified barrister should be able to demonstrate will allow for more freedom in the ways in which the Bar course and pupillage are delivered.

In an open consultation launched today, the BSB suggests that creating a Professional Statement would outline the standards required of all barristers from when they are issued a Full Practising Certificate. This in turn will further inform educators and trainers in the design of qualification routes to the Bar.

The Professional Statement - a central tenet of the regulator's Future Bar Training programme - would apply to all areas of practice and will consist of four elements: technical legal characteristics, personal values and standards, management of practice, and ability to work with others.

Director of Education and Training for the BSB, Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, said: "The Professional Statement will tell us what a barrister needs to be able to do from the point at which they are issued a Full Practising Certificate and will provide an invaluable point of reference for anyone designing the training. It will mean providers and trainers can focus more on instilling in students the knowledge and skills required to practise and thrive at the Bar, and less on ensuring the details of their course meet previously prescriptive regulations. Ultimately we hope that greater flexibility will lead to more affordability, too."

The BSB envisages that a clear Professional Statement could help barristers' clients to see what they can legitimately expect of a newly qualified member of the Bar - in terms of their abilities, knowledge, and behaviours. However, the Professional Statement would not encompass everything barristers must be able to do throughout their careers and would not replace requirements set out in the BSB Handbook.

Thornton-Wood continued: "We want to work closely with the profession to create a Professional Statement that reflects what barristers really do. They have the experience and expertise and we want to harness their insights and ideas to help us encourage a strong and diverse profession that best serves their clients' interests. We hope members of the Bar will read, share, and respond to our proposals, so that we can achieve this together."

The consultation follows the publication of a new pamphlet, published last month, which was animated by the idea of a Professional Statement as a way to describe what a barrister must be able to do at the point of being permitted to practise. The draft Professional Statement's design has been informed by empirical evidence gathered by the BSB over several months, through a varied methodology, including workshops and desk-based research.

The development of the Professional Statement addresses specific recommendations of the Legal Education and Training Review, which the BSB co-commissioned and which was published in October 2013.

Click here to read the BSB's proposals in full. Responses to the consultation must be sent to futurebartraining@barstandardsboard.org.uk by Wednesday 24 June 2015.


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 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.