23 September 2019

Regulator consults on what could be the most sweeping reforms to Bar training in a generation; keen to seek views from all

10 July 2015

Future barristers may be able to achieve their career aspirations by a number of different, more flexible pathways if some of the approaches being considered by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) are implemented.

The BSB consultation paper launched today considers the strengths and weaknesses in the current academic (law degree or conversion course), vocational (Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and pupillage stages of training required to become a barrister.

The regulator's consultation seeks to outline ways in which some of the inherent issues in the current system of training can be resolved. For example, the consultation paper asks whether the current linear way in which a prospective barrister must first complete a law degree, then undertake the BPTC and then complete a pupillage, is the only way to train a competent barrister the public can have confidence in.

Perhaps there is a better and more flexible way for barristers to prepare themselves for service to clients and the justice system. The BSB does not have control over certain aspects of the market, for example it cannot directly control the cost or number of places available on law degrees or the BPTC; nor for that matter, the number of pupillages available at the Bar. 

It is, however, responsible for assuring quality and making sure that the whole process means barristers have the skills and attributes necessary for them to succeed and in a way which maintains the public's confidence in the profession.

Some of the many interesting considerations within the paper include:

  • How can the current academic qualifications and the BPTC better prepare an aspiring barrister for the cases which they will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis?
  • How can we strike the right balance between adequate knowledge of the law and practical skills to manage client caseload and keep up with the changing legal landscape?
  • Do the academic, vocational and pupillage stages need to be sequential or could they be better interwoven so that students develop knowledge and skills at the same time?
  • How do we best ensure that the Bar attracts and retains a diverse array of quality candidates?

Director of Education and Training for the BSB, Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, said, "We have reached a crucial stage of considering what the future of a more flexible system of training and qualifying might look like.

"We urge all interested and affected parties to read and consider the approaches in our latest consultation paper, or come up with approaches of your own.

"The outcome is central to assuring the quality of the next generation of barristers and attracting able candidates - no matter what their background - to the Bar.

"It's about making sure that the best characteristics are carried forward, in a profession that maintains the highest standing in the eyes of the public."

The BSB is seeking responses to its consultation paper,which closes on 30 October 2015.  You can read the full future bar training consultation here.

Please note: the regulator intends to form a final view on one or two of the approaches outlined in this consultation, after all responses have been received.  A further consultation will be issued in spring of 2016, once a firmer view on how best to address these complex issues has been formed. This is why all interested parties are urged to share their views now; these issues cannot be addressed in isolation. The BSB has allowed time at this earlier stage to make sure that everyone can have their say.

Responses to all or any of the parts of the consultation will be welcomed.

Further methods to engage with this consultation process will be announced shortly.  We have scheduled a webinar for Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 1pm.  Please email contactus@barstandardsboard.org.uk if you would like to be on the invitation list.

Register for our webinar here.

Read our full consultation paper consultation here.

Read our programme of review here.

Responses should be sent to futurebartraining@barstandardsboard.org.uk


Notes to editors

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.