Killjoy bar leaders aim to phase out dining requirement for qualification as a barrister

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By Jonathan Ames on

Age-old tradition of drunken bread roll fights looks set to be pensioned off as it’s not sufficiently educational


Another tradition of the English bar seems destined to be thrown on the scrap heap of history as the age-old practice of dining before call is being phased out.

Legal Cheek understands from sources close to both the bar’s regulator and the Inns of Court that student dining is viewed as elitist and non-productive as a qualifying process for a modern profession.

Inner Temple is thought to be at the forefront of plans to ditch dinners-only pre-call qualifying sessions.

Generations of barristers will have fond memories of chucking bread rolls at each other and chugging low-grade port straight from the bottle at events that may have been short on modern networking ideals, but were long on drunken fun.

The Bar Standards Board is understood to have an unofficial policy of encouraging the inns to implement a range of more advanced qualifying sessions designed to give wannabe barristers a taste of practical experience at the bar. They are also meant to offer future lawyers an opportunity to rub shoulders with prospective future colleagues.

Qualifying sessions are currently split into roughly five categories, including full weekend seminars at an inn or at Cumberland Lodge, a 17th century castle in Berkshire, and education days generally held for students based outside London.

Then there are the dinners. However, these events have gradually evolved away from the old-fashioned bread roll and port affairs. Education dinners include lectures, while domus dinners — named after the homes of ancient wealthy Romans — involve students and senior barristers dining together.

So-called social dinners — such as “Grand Night” or student guest nights — which involve no educational or direct networking elements, still exist. However, this is the category that has fallen out of favour with the professional regulator and at least one of the inns and appears to be soon for the chop.

The BSB dictates that the weekend events count as three units, educational days count as two units and dinners and call night count as one unit.