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BSB unveils radical training proposals that could spell end of 12-month pupillages

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Compulsory Inns dinners may be thing of the past too, says new consultation paper

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has presented a number of radical new training proposals that could, among other things, introduce a more flexible approach to pupillage and put an end to compulsory Inns of Court dining sessions.

The regulator, in a consultation paper released this week, has suggested that the standardised 12-month pupillage could be scrapped, allowing chambers to develop their own training plans for rookie barristers.

However, the BSB — which is seeking the opinions of barristers, students and other interested parties — does acknowledge that the fresh approach could create a number of issues. It says:

There is, however, a risk that by enabling organisations to determine the length of pupillage, some may reduce the length of pupillages so that pupils can start earning fees earlier. Equally, there is a risk that pupillages may be unnecessarily extended to enable chambers to utilise pupils for extended periods without offering them tenancy.

Elsewhere in the report, the BSB proposes doing away with Inns of Court qualifying sessions. Current rules stipulate that aspiring barristers must complete 12 qualifying sessions, made up of formal dinners, guest lectures, advocacy workshops and debate nights.

The BSB notes:

Some students with less knowledge of the profession, particularly for those from BME [black and minority ethnic] and lower socio-economic backgrounds, may be more likely to feel intimidated by the environment as they may perceive the majority of the barristers attending are white, male and educated at elite institutions.

The BSB also addressed the contentious topic of pupillage pay.

As things stand, the current minimum financial support for baby barristers in England and Wales is set at just £12,000. The national living wage currently sits at £13,650 and London living wage at £17,745.

According to the BSB: “Unless a pupil has built up substantial savings, or can rely on financial assistance from their family or spouse, pupillages funded at the current minimum level are not financially viable, especially those offered in London.” It continues:

Given the level of debt that most students build up in order to qualify for pupillage, the requirement to add further to that debt during their work-based component may be enough to prevent many from even applying for minimum funded pupillages.

The consultation will close on 8 January 2018.

Read the BSB consultation report in full below:

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27 Comments

Not Amused

“may be more likely to feel intimidated by the environment”

The disgusting modern bigotry of low expectations. It’s a pretty hall with average to bad food filled with friendly and avuncular people. It doesn’t ‘belong’ to any single race or any single socio economic group. It belongs to barristers and student barristers.

The BSB is horribly out of touch and wholly indefensible. What a pathetic organisation that does nothing for a decade while poor and disadvantaged students are abused by private sector education providers and then tries to distract from its own failings by attacking people based upon their race (which is racism) and pretending that poor people can’t like nice things.

This nonsense has to end. Time to admit this experiment in regulation has failed.

(44)(12)

Anonymous

Why don’t you get involved more actively with your Inn and the BSB to try and improve matters then ? For all these young and aspiring barristers you aver to care so much for..

As opposed to your usual and oh-so-predictable haughty invective-filled whinge on your pedestal !!

(9)(9)

Not Amused

The BSB are supposedly ‘professional’ regulators. They are proud of the fact that I can, and I indeed do, have very little influence upon them.

They remain however, untroubled by competence.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Bitter much Alex?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

He can’t get involved because he’s not a real lawyer, but rather someone sat in his mum’s basement hacking out his hate into a keyboard.

(1)(4)

Massingbird

God twice in one day I agree with you. I need to lie down.

That said upping the pupillage award to London living wage is a good idea even if it does restrict the number of pupillages available.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

“(which is racism)”…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Two private sector and six ‘public’* sector Universities. The six public sector ones have failed to fill their courses for the last five years straight. Nobody is forced to go to the private sector. The fees are broadly comparable too with an inside London and outside London comparison. So let’s stop the private sector nonsense shall we NA? The price and content of the course has stuff all to do with the private vs public though that might not suit your narrative.

*Public sector Universities with their fee income, private sector research, accommodation, events… The list goes on. Public sector my eye.

(2)(3)

Gladiatrix

Not Amused is right about this.

The BSB has been told time and again by the Inns and their committees how important the dinners are. I attend my Inn’s University dinners; they are packed with students desperate to talk to members of the Bar. It is particularly important for students from universities that have very small numbers of taking the BPTC and who risk becoming isolated.

I don’t understand why we keep having the same conversation. There seems to be inverted snobbery at work here and the BSB should disown it.

(17)(2)

Not Amused

Quite.

Privileged children can meet me at a private dinner.

Disadvantaged children won’t be allowed to meet me.

The BSB, like many regulators, has nothing to do. So it carries out surveys (which are hardly ever responded to), then, wrongly claims to have “evidence” to back up a pre-existing bigotry.

Time to shut it down.

(9)(4)

Anonymous

How anyone has made it through life without the enormous privilege of meeting Not Amused is a mystery. Perhaps we could arrange a special day for it: put Not Amused on a throne and allow students to walk through the room, 30 seconds each breathing the same glorious air.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

I would pay any amount of money if it meant not meeting you. Would rather blow my fucking brains out, or worse, accept a TC with Irwin Mitchell

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Of course the Inns would say that the Inn dinners are important.

(2)(2)

Hungry Horace

Mmm…. D-Inn d-inns!

Yummy!

(0)(1)

Trumpenkrieg

If you can’t handle people who are white, male and educated at elite institutions over a 1 1/2 hour dinner how are you going to handle them when they’re sitting as judges?

(13)(3)

SB

For the love of God it is DINING not DINNING (paragraph 1)

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Forced to do lunch. Oh the humanity.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Take some time to read the paper. The BSB are perfectly happy to let the Council of the Inns of Court deliver their own BPTC but only if they scale back their involvement in pre-Call student life. The BME point is a shocking smokescreen thrown up to disguise that.

(5)(1)

Anon

BSB’s standard approach: invent a problem that does not exist, ignore real issues (such as BPTC providers selling an extortionate course to candidates who will never get pupillage), have a consultation about the invented problem, spend a great deal of the Bar’s cash doing so, and then enact unduly burdensome rules which they enforce (coincidentally giving their inflated but largely redundant organisation something to do).

(6)(0)

Anonymous

The Inn dinners are not compulsory. I boycotted the whole thing because I thought it was public school crap and have now been at the independent bar in v good chambers for 5 years.

(0)(1)

SB

Not sure what Inn you are a member of but qualifying sessions are definitely compulsory.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

But not all of them are dinners. Perfectly possible to do all qualifying sessions without dining once (by going to lectures, advocacy sessions, residential weekends).

(2)(0)

SB

Ah I see… that is true, and they are probably more valuable

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Do you bother with Circuit dinners (if you’ve joined a Circuit)?

(0)(0)

Elephant123

This is being reported as if the BSB has only just worked all of this out?? #whoregulatestheregulators

(1)(0)

Antony Pescari

Hmmm dont like this one bit

(0)(0)

Anonymous

System isn’t broken so no need to try and fix it.

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.