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Inner Temple votes to cut library space by nearly 60% so it can build a lecture theatre

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Move comes as rumours of not-for-profit BPTC continue to swirl

inner

Inner Temple has given the green light to controversial plans which will see space at its historic library cut by nearly 60% to create an “auditorium for education and training”.

Legal Cheek can reveal that following a meeting late last month Inner Temple’s benchers — who are senior barristers that run the Inn — have ignored high-profile opposition to the proposal from across the legal profession.

Notably, over 1,500 people have signed a petition against dramatically shrinking the library, while influential law blogger David Allen Green penned a widely read article about why he believes Inner Temple is making a big mistake.

So why is Inner going to the trouble to do this?

Rumours continue to swirl that the four Inns of Court are teaming up to deliver a not-for-profit Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). As Legal Cheek reported over the summer, Lincoln’s Inn has already approved plans to hollow out a huge sky lit bunker next to its main hall. The development will include a 150-seat lecture theatre that is for education and training purposes.

Lincoln’s Inn says that the “intended use” of the proposed building is not as a law school but has stopped short of issuing a full denial that it is involved in plans for a new BPTC.

So Inner’s decision to create its own lecture theatre is bound to set even more tongues wagging. At the very least, it can be interpreted as symbolic of a determination by the Inns to move towards re-claiming their historic role as law schools.

When Legal Cheek contacted Inner today, it declined to comment on the not-for-profit BPTC chatter, issuing this statement:

Benchers of The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple met on the 21 October to discuss proposals to add an additional floor to the Treasury Building in order to develop an Education and Training Centre and additional facilities for the Inn. The discussion was followed by a postal ballot in which the Governing Benchers voted to approve the proposal. The Inn fully accepts that in creating these new facilities we must ensure that the Library is able to continue to deliver all its core services, so that the Inn’s members continue to have access to our collection and receive the highly valued assistance of our library team.

The Inn added that it was keen to “meet the demands of modern legal education”, continuing:

Education and Training is a core function of the Inn throughout a barrister’s life and there is a recognised need to ensure that the Inn’s facilities meet the demands of modern legal education. The development option approved by Governing Benchers will ensure that the Inn is able to fulfil its educational purpose by providing modern purpose-built facilities, including an auditorium and training rooms, to match the world class training which we already deliver.

Under the approved plans for what was termed “Option 2” in the consultation document, Inner Temple library’s entire upper floor and gallery will now be converted into an auditorium, with meeting rooms and offices also being created in the space.

This means that 58% of the library’s main floor will be lost to storage, equipment, lifts and stairs to a new fourth floor extension. 50% of reader spaces will be lost, while 25,000 books from the main part of the library and in everyday use will be displaced and the library will be closed entirely for a year and a half for the works to be carried out.

An alternative plan to create the new space with less impact on the library was rejected.

22 Comments

Not Amused

“Education and Training is a core function of the Inn throughout a barrister’s life”

No it isn’t.

“and there is a recognised need to ensure that the Inn’s facilities meet the demands of modern legal education”

Recognised by whom?

Far from being the Inn actually doing something to stop the abuse of BPTC wannabes, this will be about them muscling in on ‘advocacy training’ and other such nonsense. No doubt this will quickly become a requirement for all barristers to then undertake – because we’ve built the building now so we’ve got to get the money back somehow. It all stems from a vaguely left-ish desire to control everyone else. Everyone must present their case in the same way. Everyone’s skeleton argument must contain the same points, be of the same length and be in the same font. (oh and if we can make some extra revenue out of all this then so much the better).

Loathsome controlling nonsense by a spoilt and wealthy elite desperately trying to appear ‘relevant’ (when they clearly aren’t).

(12)(2)

Mr Pineapples

What total cobblers you speak

(3)(3)

Tordenskjold

Sad news indeed. The fight is not over though.

Let’s hope the building gets listed and people continue to protest against this. For some reason the Benchers, who don’t use the library, don’t believe that anyone else is using it. Also the “business case” has not been made as has been stated in the Inn’s own strategic review. No doubt they will be trying to get in on the mediation & arbitration market but there are enough places offering that already.

Another few million quid down the toilet in a massive and wasteful vanity project.

(15)(1)

Quo Vadis

Absolute vandalism. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

‘Not for profit’ is like ‘Low cost’ in the phrase ‘Low cost airline’. People think that both mean cheap, but that’s not necessarily true.

‘Low cost’ airlines have low costs. Does that necessarily make them the cheapest? No. They can be, but it depends on a number of factors.

The same is true of the rumoured (mainly on here) ‘Not for profit BPTC’. The cost of these expensive bits of renovation have to be recouped somehow. That’s not profit they’ll say, it’s just recouping our investment. Handsome salaries (The College of Advocacy recently advertised for a Programme Director at £70k), the expense of adjunct faculty who will expect to be paid at a decent rate and it may not be profit, but still bloody expensive.

If the structure of the BPTC fundamentally changes well, so will the costs from the providers. It will have to.

Not for profit does not equal cheap

(4)(1)

Jack of Kent

This is sad.

A world-class law library – not only in terms of books but also in its use of space and light, and in its acoustics – is now going to be destroyed.

(20)(3)

Anonymous

I’m fine with this if the end result is reform of the BPTC and taking back education from the profiteering wankers.

But it would be nice to have clarity on the plans. As a result I personally can’t support the closure of library space at present – it may just be that the Inn wants space to make money from the conference circuit. But I am able to be convinced.

(3)(4)

Anonymous

How much profit do these ‘profiteering wankers’ make per student? Do the private providers make more or less than the public Universities who provide about half of the places? Is profiteering / non-profit but charging lots okay if it’s the Inns doing it? If it was so easy for the Inns to be the good guys and charge much, much less, then why haven’t they?

So much conjecture, so little time.

(2)(3)

Tordenskjold

I don’t believe that it has anything to do with the BPTC. Rather more to do with making money out of the Inn and getting rid of an expensive ‘luxury’ like librarians and books that can be replaced by a computer. Soon the Inn will exist only to charge rent to Chambers and fleece people wanting to use their new ‘arbitration’ facilities. Surely easier just to sell out to Land Securities and have done with it?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Sadly libraries are now ‘learning resource centres’ and fewer books are needed in this digital age.

A beautiful building, but the inns are replacing a book resource with a teaching resource. Swings and roundabouts.

(6)(4)

Potty Lottie

There has to be a sexist angle here!

If only I could find it…

(1)(2)

Charlotte Proudfoot

Statistics show that more women use libraries than men, in the pooblic spess. This decision is deeply sexist.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

I absolutely adore this library. I really really hope it doesn’t get changed

(5)(2)

A barrister

I am amazed that they voted for this. I haven’t yet met anyone in favour of the plans.

(8)(1)

Mr Pineapples

I am in favour – so put that in your pipe

(0)(5)

Quo Vadis

Even if they are preparing for an Inns of Court-led BPTC, why destroy a fabulous library to make space for it? Why not take over buildings vacated by the (soon-to-be-bust) existing providers? You could even buy a warehouse out in Stratford, slap on the old ICSL logo, and teach a low-cost course there. Ripping the heart out of the library (and closing it for 1.5 years, more with overruns) is a ludicrous option and strikes me as empire-building by the parties responsible.

(5)(1)

Mr Pineapples

Thank goodness

Change must come.

Why have a library that is only used by the good folks working around the Inn? We are now in the digital age and most of this stuff should be on line anyway. I cannot believe that we all have to spend lots of money to Lexis et al to have access to resources.

Good on the InnerTemple – in freeing up space for something that will be useful.

(3)(7)

Mr Pineapples

Well said Mr P.

Wisdom at last

(1)(6)

Anonymous

Get rid of the other 40% and add a McDonalds.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You could do something to remedy the Luftwaffe damage. But it looks as if little can be done about the unstoppable march of monetization. Dreary, soul-destroying bean counters rule the world.

(1)(0)

Proudboobs

“Lincoln’s Inn says that the “intended use” of the proposed building is not as a law school but has stopped short of issuing a full denial that it is involved in plans for a new BPTC.”

Lincoln’s Inn Twitter feed:

16/07/15 @legalcheek The intended use of this building is not as a law school but as state of the art advocacy training rooms for our members.

17/07/15 @legalcheek No mystery here. This is for training Lincoln’s Inn members, not replacing the BPTC. Sorry guys!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Sounds like Legal Cheek’s gossip was slapped down by the mighty Lincoln’s Inn

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.