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Bar Council calls for BTPC cost reduction as it slams BSB’s training reform proposals

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Representative and regulator clash over barristers’ education

money

The Bar Council has called for a “much less expensive” Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and at the same time lambasted training reforms put forward by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

In a 23-page response to the BSB’s consultation on bar training, the Bar Council — the body that represents barristers across England and Wales — has claimed the proposals would “create confusion amongst students” and “increase regulatory cost”.

Launched last year, the BSB’s paper trumpeted several new training options for aspiring barristers. These included the ‘managed pathways’ approach, which could see new bar-focused law degrees, and the ‘bar specialist’ approach, which included introducing a new super-exam “open to any candidate”.

But the Bar Council seems distinctly unimpressed with the regulator’s radical new ideas. Continuing its attack, the response — which was released yesterday — states that the BSB’s approach will:

[L]ead to there being a preferred model or models and a series of less well-regarded alternatives.

Claiming that the current BPTC “is unsatisfactory, and extremely unpopular with the vast majority of those who take it”, the Bar Council called for a “much less expensive” course which would therefore be “open to a wider segment of society”. The latest figures show that a place on the BPTC can cost in excess of £19,000 for those wishing to study in London.

Back in December the Bar Council and The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) put forward their own proposal: split the BPTC in two.

Part one would consist of the “knowledge-based parts” of the course, such as civil and criminal procedure and evidence, with law school attendance optional. Part two would then see wannabe barristers tackle the “skills-based elements” including advocacy, drafting, ethics and conferencing skills. It is at this point that students will have to attend law school.

And despite a mixed response from Legal Cheek readers at the time, both the councils appear to be sticking by their radical idea.

In its response yesterday the Bar Council said that the two-stage BPTC is “likely to promote equality and diversity more effectively than the present, very expensive system, and more effectively than any of the alternatives on which the BSB is consulting.” Continuing, it said:

The COIC/Bar Council proposal has the widespread support of the profession, which has no financial vested interest in the subject matter of the present consultation and, indeed, a complete identity of interest with the BSB, students and the general public in promoting training that will be fit for purpose and available to the widest range of able applicants at proportionate cost.

The BSB’s consultation into the ‘Future of Training for the Bar’ closes on 31 January. You can have your say here.

Read the Bar Council’s response in full below:

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25 Comments

Anonymous

Bar humbug.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Not Amused, is that you?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Most important sentence in all of this: “The COIC/Bar Council proposal has the widespread support of the profession, which has no financial vested interest in the subject matter of the present consultation”

All other stakeholders have clear financial vested interest. It is bizarre that some consultation meetings are hosted by BPP etc.

Views of bar course providers and lecturers should be taken with a pinch of salt. These failed barristers and their employers are motivated by self interest, not what is best for the profession.

(4)(4)

Proudboobs

The useless BTPC should be scrapped and replaced with compulsory CPD to be done during pupillage – perhaps one day per week?

(4)(0)

crockett&jonessale

“We end by encouraging the BSB not to delay…”

They have two chances of that happening, slim and none, and slim just left the building.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

The Bar have no financial interest in this? Poppycock. If COIC run the course who are they going to get to teach on it? How much will the Inns spend from their scholarship budget on their own members to teach (via COIC) and retain? That’s a huge financial interest.

How much cheaper and better would this new course be? Para 9 answers this, no change to the syllabus as it’s not been substantially criticised! Really? Most people think that large chunks could be ditched.

But then there would be less for members of the Bar (with no financial interest of course) to teach.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Members of the bar already teach at the BPTC providers. Ironically, given your baseless allegations, we don’t get paid if we teach advocacy for the Inns. I have no doubt there would be employees to run things, but I imagine it would be substantially supported by pro bono lecturing by others. In any event, there is no proposal for a monopoly to be reintroduced.

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Teaching at the weekends pro bono to improve your chance of becoming a Bencher/taking Silk/becoming a Judge/chatting up students/giving something back to the profession is a different kettle of fish to teaching week in week out at the expense of a professional fee.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Precisely. People seem to think it’s just something simple that a barrister can do in a couple of hours, then breeze out. That’s unrealistic I am afraid. Students want continuity and accountability from their teachers. Who will write and design course materials and manuals? Who will mark papers? Who will answer numerous student emails and queries? You don’t get those at a weekend of advocacy training at the Inns where you’re dealing with people who have already passed the BPTC and are professionals. The Inns will soon realise the large cost involved in this.

(8)(0)

Not Amused

While I appreciate the vehemence of your self interest, I think you ought to know that no one thinks the BPTC is anything other than a joke.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

I see BPTC lecturers are out in full force to defend the course that pays their mortgage.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Because of the content? Note how this proposal won’t change that.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

They want to protect financial interests. This nonsense will continue until they ony allow entrance into the bar course for those with scholarships/pupillage/or intention to work overseas

(3)(1)

TheLolz

These reforms are simply an exercise in pissing in the wind.

There aren’t the numbers of pupillages and the mismatch between pupillages and people undertaking the BPTC is something like 4 to 1. This is far in excess of the mismatch between the LPC and training contract numbers.

Introduce minimum standards for being admitted on to the BPTC – Three Bs at A-Level, and a minimum 2:1 (with discretion to admit if someone has already secured a pupillage with something less).

Obviously these wouldn’t apply to overseas students looking to return to countries like Malaysia and Mauritius.

For domestic students, introduce a cap on places each year which is a maximum of 1.5 times the number of pupillages in the year prior to admission. The BPTC providers won’t like it – but f**k those spivs.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Why put the cap on a levels? What does that accomplish apart from missing out on a lot of talent. I agree on the 2:1 cap though

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Translation: My A-levels are shit. Got a 2.1 though.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Nope. First class honors kid. Try harder.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

*honours

(1)(0)

Anonymous

No I said honors. There are two ways of spelling it prick.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Not in the UK there aren’t, sweetheart.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The bar councils position on this makes no sense.

The bar standards board are absolutely correct in stating that there should be a reduction in fees for the bptc.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Ineffective, cost prohibitive training at the bar; AGFS reforms decimating the junior work; circuit judges to no longer require any legal background…

Its that time of the decade again to seriously consider scrapping the bar alltogether and have everyone represent themselves in court…

Actually… given we are about to remove the requirement for recorders to be legally qualified, how about we replace the whole justice system with ‘some peopele in the pub’ we can just ask them if we think the blighter is guilty then move directly to sentencing on an arbitrary basis.

“bit of DV? Lets make him drink a pint of pi*s”
“s.18? Smash him over the head with that pool cue”
“rapist? Lets cut his todger off with a smashed pint glass”
“kiddie fidler? Easy, lets stab him to death”

I worry.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

There is no plan to allow Recorders to sit without a legal qualification.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Not in a million years would the BPTC/LPC providers willingly lower the price of their cash cows

(2)(0)

Anonymous

They would if they could get more people through the door.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.