Why it doesn’t mean much when the chair of the Bar Council says they want to cap BPTC numbers

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By Alex Aldridge on

Yesterday’s call by Nicholas Lavendar QC to limit Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) numbers has become an annual tradition among occupants of the year-long Bar Council chairmanship. As you can see below, Lavendar’s recent predecessors in the role have all made similar statements — and then done nothing…

First, here is what Lavendar said, in an interview he gave to the Law Society Gazette:


It’s not a dissimilar sentiment to that which was expressed by previous Bar Council chair Maura McGowan QC, who exclaimed in her inaugural speech:


In 2012, McGowan’s predecessor, Michael Todd QC, told the Evening Standard of his “great concern” about BPTC numbers:


Prior Bar Council chief Nicholas Green QC went even further in 2011, reflecting at the Bar Council conference on the moral “qualms” he felt about the current system of entry to the Bar:


Since Green uttered those words, the number of pupillages offered annually has dropped further, and this year is believed to be just over the 400 mark. Meanwhile, BPTC enrolments rose in 2012 (the most-recent year for which statistics have been published) from 1,618 to 1,669.