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BSB approves radical reforms that could see BPTC split in two and law school attendance made OPTIONAL

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More than 500 barristers signed an open letter in support of the proposals

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has approved plans that could see the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) split into two parts, with law school attendance compulsory for only the second half.

First put forward by the Bar Council and the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) in December, the proposals would, if approved, see the vocational course — which all barristers must complete prior to pupillage — divided into two.

Stage one “will consist of the knowledge-based parts” of the BPTC, such as civil and criminal procedure and evidence. Stage two will then see aspiring barristers get to grips with “the remaining skills-based elements of the BPTC,” which will include modules such as advocacy, drafting, ethics and conferencing skills. Controversially, both the Bar Council and COIC have suggested that law school attendance should be optional at stage one.

At a board meeting yesterday evening the regulator said it will authorise a limited number of alternative training routes. This, according to the BSB, is likely to include the radical option put forward by Bar Council and COIC. Stressing that this two-part BPTC route to qualification “is reliant on providers coming forward with plans,” the BSB said it hopes to have a formal framework in place by “early autumn 2018”.

Commenting on reforms, BSB chair Sir Andrew Burns said:

Our role as the regulator is not to design the courses themselves, but to set a robust framework for authorising course providers. We have clear criteria for doing so and we will be developing our Authorisation Framework in consultation with the bar, training providers and other groups with an interest in bar training. We look forward to more flexible, accessible and affordable training courses in future which will maintain the high intellectual and professional standards demanded at the bar.

The decision follows the conclusion of the BSB’s ‘Future of Training for the Bar’ consultation. Launched late last year, the regulator put forward a number of ideas including the ‘managed pathways’ approach, which promoted new bar-focused law degrees, and the ‘bar specialist’ approach, which would introduce a new super-exam “open to any candidate.”

Unfortunately, its new routes to qualification didn’t go down too well. Throwing their combined weight behind the Bar Council’s proposals, over 500 barristers — including ex-Lord Chief Justice and Blackstone Chambers barrister Lord Woolfe — signed an open letter slamming the alternatives.

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25 Comments

Anonymous

The announcement of reform for the way professional ethics is taught and assessed on the day of the ethics exam.

Because BPTC students need to feel even more that their time and money is wasted.

(17)(3)

Anonymous

The BSB’s response is a little more nuanced than the headline or article suggests. They went with the the managed pathways option rather than the COIC one. What they’ve said is that the COIC option on the face of it would be an approved managed pathway.

COIC need to set up a school which takes time and money. The other providers will be free to offer the current course, the two stage model or anything else the regulator will say yes to.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Exactly – a very misleading headline.

(13)(1)

Anonymous

The headline is misleading to anyone with a passing knowledge of the subject. The people who most strongly supported the BC/COIC option were not in favour of the managed pathways option for various cogent reasons. The fact that the BC/COIC option could be one of the pathways did not reassure them. That the headline suggests that the BC/COIC option has been endorsed is irritating. Perhaps it could be changed?

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Changed? You’re new round here aren’t you

(14)(0)

Anonymous

I just live in hope.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Why is it misleading? It reports on what the BSB has judged an acceptable mode of training. If you mean that it doesn’t say:

“BSB agrees to a new scheme of training for qualification which will not require enrolment for the first stage but is only one of several possible models that could operate and may or may not over time prove to be the most popular, but in any event there will be interim status quo”

then I think you haven’t quite grasped the idea of a headline. Or how to read an article as a whole.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I’m quite happy that the headline is accurate and doesn’t need to be as you suggest above. My point is that is misrepresents the story as a whole.

First up, the headline used to say ‘…radical reforms that will see BPTC split in two…’ but has now been changed to could. You can tell that by the fact that the URL of this page says will but the headline now says could. It’s a choice between not leaving a trail by changing the URL after publication and losing lots of links. Could is accurate, will is not.

Second, the radical reform requires the creation of something that doesn’t yet exist and third, the existing course will be allowed to continue.

The bigger picture is wider than this headline suggest in either its original or amended form.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Thank you. If the headline’s changed from ‘will’ then it’s more accurate now and your criticism was fair to that extent.

And I would accept that the article can be criticised for the emphasis it places on one ‘route’ above others; but the generality of the BSB’s conclusions is there. Being less than fully accurate isn’t the same as being misleading.

I’m not sure what the point about ‘approves radical reforms’ is. That seems clearly a statement about future change.

I agree it’s not the clearest account. But the obscurity in the article has as much to do with trying to report quango-speak as anything else.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Was attendance ever compulsory?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

you need c.90% attendance. including lectures.

(5)(0)

Blacker the Sequel of the Prequel

O what a wretched thing! The BPTC cleft in twain by these wicked curs. A pox! A pox on them I say!

(9)(0)

Not Amused

The BSB is complicit in the current situation. It depends upon the money it receives from providers to continue to pay its staff inflated (and regularly increasing) salaries. The chair is more interested in a peerage than performance.

The entire setup would be called corruption in any other country.

(9)(5)

Anonymous

What ‘money’ does the BSB receive from providers?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Currently, £550 per student.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media/1465505/bsb_business_plan_2013-14.pdf

See page 24 after a simple Google search. This is really basic stuff that should be known.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

I know but the point is that the £550 is the registration fee per student, set by the BSB. Unless it is abolished (unlikely) it would still be charged in respect of a student attending a ‘COIC school’ so it’s wrong to use the word corruption.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

If you listen closely you can hear NA’s tinfoil hat rustling while they type.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Legal Cheek understood the BSB statement to mean pretty much the opposite of what they actually said.

BSB passed the buck over to providers and said they will consider the course the providers design. Considering the bar has no respect for the providers and the failed barristers they contain, this isn’t going to end well.

(4)(2)

Disinterested Observer

When you get anywhere near being a competent barrister, let us know here.
BTW, have a gander at the ‘alternative’ – the Inns of Court College of Advocacy. Its Dean – ex-Kaplan BPTC, and, presumably, also in your eyes a failed barrister. Kaplan milked fees and arguably contributed to the debate which led to this farrago. Some deep, deep mining to be had there.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Hello BPTC lecturer

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Derek Wood CBE QC? Where did you get that he is ex-Kaplan?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

He isn’t the Dean.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Stop being so cryptic. Who is the fella?

In any event, the comment was directed at the BPTC lecturers (you can just Google or see Twitter), most (but not all) of whom are failed barristers. Some of them haven’t practised for decades, and astonishingly some teaching advocacy were themselves in-house counsel in local authorities etc and therefore have no advocacy experience.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Congratulations Legal Cheek, you have entirely misinterpreted the BSB’s announcement.

The epitome of mediocre journalism.

(5)(0)

Comments are closed.