BPP to give wannabe barristers ‘corporate training’

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By Alex Aldridge on

BPTC becomes more LPC-like, with added commercial awareness


In a sign of the increasingly business-focused direction that the bar is moving in, BPP University Law School has unveiled a ‘corporate training’ programme for its Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students.

The course, delivered in partnership with big training provider Duke Corporate Education, will allow wannabe barristers to boost their commercial awareness by spending time in a business setting.

Among other things, the rookies selected for the programme will attend pitches, conferences and training events to better understand “leadership”. They’ll also get to meet senior management teams of leading global companies. Duke’s clients include corporate giants such as Cisco, Novartis and BMW.

With the legal aid end of the bar having withered over recent years due to government cuts, and the commercial branch thriving as money has flooded into London, the future for barristers is, more than ever, as hotshot corporate law gurus.

This is where the growth seems to be in the 10% rise in pupillage numbers announced recently by the Bar Council, which has seen chambers’ graduate places increase from 397 to 437.

At the same time, as some legal aid chambers stop hiring pupils altogether, top commercial sets have hiked graduate pay to the £70,000 mark and beyond. This may account for the reports that Legal Cheek has been hearing of some BPTC courses being oversubscribed this year.

But before law students start dreaming of such riches, it’s worth bearing in mind that you have to be extremely clever to make it in this super-elite tier of the legal profession. Commercial barristers are who magic circle solicitors go to when they are confused about the law. If you feel unsure about your ability to set a befuddled City lawyer straight on a legal issue, maybe look at doing the LPC instead.

It’s perhaps even tougher to get on BPP’s training with Duke, as there are just four places available and each comes with a scholarship fee discount for the BPTC. Places are open to all of BPP bar students starting the BPTC this month. The lucky winners can doubtless look forward to sparkling careers — that will almost certainly bear no resemblance to the vaguely bohemian, long lunching Inns of Court days of old.

As if to reinforce this point, BPP BPTC co-chief James Welsh reeled off a few choice pieces of corporate jargon as he reflected on the programme, commenting:

We train communication skills to lawyers, and Duke CE train leadership skills in the workplace. There’s a very pleasing synergy here, and we are delighted to arrange for our students to stretch themselves and to have access to those engaged in leadership training. Offering this non-legal internship shows our commitment to enhancing our students’ overall commercial awareness and employability.