16 July 2018

The Bar regulator to host debate on the Future Bar Training options

8 June 2016

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is set to host The Future Bar Training debate next month. The debate will be a forum to discuss the options for how best to structure the process by which students can qualify as barristers.

The debate will introduce the three proposed options for future routes to qualification to an audience of invited delegates made up of a wide variety of interested parties including barristers, students and training providers.

It will be an opportunity to contribute to the development of a number of different training options. Later in the year, the options will be fully formed and published for consultation, with a view to implementing them from the academic year 2018-19.

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.

The options reflect substantially different approaches but all ensure a high standard of training, promoting equality of opportunity and, meeting the needs of candidates. After analysing last summer's Future Bar Training consultation, the BSB published the responses and devised three options based on what respondents told the BSB:

  • Option A, the "Evolutionary" option;
  • Option B, the "Managed Pathways" option; and
  • Option C, the "Bar specialist" option.

The BSB has not yet formed a view on which option is best. The purpose of the debate is to help inform the regulator's thinking on a preferred option, to be included in a future consultation.

Last year, the BSB consulted on, and approved, the Professional Statement of the knowledge, skills and attributes a barrister should possess when they are first issued with a practising certificate. The Future Bar Training programme has the outcome of the standards contained within the Professional Statement in mind.

BSB Director of Education and Training Dr Simon Thornton-Wood said: "We want to make sure, as far as is practical, that the only requirement for qualification and authorisation as a barrister is having the requisite knowledge, skills and attributes to meet the standards of the Professional Statement. By introducing a more flexible route to qualification, we hope to ensure future access to the profession in a way that enables candidates from all walks of life to consider a career at the Bar. The future of Bar training should ensure it produces competent barristers, and ultimately a legal system in which a diverse public can have confidence."

The debate will be hosted by BSB Director General Dr Vanessa Davies, who will be joined by guest speakers giving short presentations on the proposed routes to qualification.

You can read the Future Bar Training Options Statement here.

The debate will be held at Holborn Bars, 138-142 Holborn from 5pm-8pm on Thursday, 7 July. 

You need to register your interest at futurebartraining@barstandardsboard.org.uk for catering purposes by 1 July.

Members of the press should email Angela Yin at press@barstandardsboard.org.uk to register interest.

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:

  • a combined law degree and vocational training, similar to the current University of Northumbria qualification;
  • a vocational training programme that is integrated with pupillage; or
  • 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