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Bar Council backs cheaper, two-part BPTC run by the Inns of Court

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Barrister super-exam?

The chair of the bar has thrown his support behind a new barrister training programme, to be run by the Inns of Court.

Rumours about a new Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), to be taught by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA), have been circulating, and gaining more traction, since summer. Now, Andrew Langdon QC, a criminal barrister and the chair of the bar, has said:

“We support the initiative taken by the Inns to design a professional course that is cheaper and that does something to stem the flow of those who pass the final exam but have very little chance of obtaining pupillage.”

The word ‘cheaper’ may have caught your eye. Indeed, speaking at the Bar Council’s annual conference Langdon expressed fear over the bar’s loss of young barristers, many of whom are deterred from the costs likely to be incurred during training. With the BPTC costing up to £18,520 and criminal law sets sometimes paying its pupils less than £15,000, we understand the fear. Legal Cheek readers can peruse the prices of all the BPTC providers on The BPTC Most List 2017-18.

The plan is, then, to launch a course which splits out the cost, and the course, into two parts.

As per Bar Council proposals, 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.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Sound familiar? The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently committed to the roll out of a solicitor super-exam, which it said would be split into two parts, one completed pre and one completed post training contract. However, Legal Cheek brought you the news last month that there’s a movement afoot to push together the two exams, so that both can be taken before a training contract.

Though there are no plans for the split BPTC to act as a sandwich for pupillage, the proposed new BPTC’s big area of controversy is this: it’s been suggested law school attendance would only need be compulsory for part two. Legal Cheek also understands the Inns will be placing stricter entry requirements on its new BPTC.

Controversy aside, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and now the Bar Council have indicated support for these radical reforms. But uncertainty does persist over cost and other key areas. The BSB itself, as part of its consultation into the future of bar training, noted:

“We are aware of a potential conflict of interest that may arise if the ICCA enters the market for bar vocational training. If the Inns of Court, through the ICCA, decide to offer vocational training, and there is a continuing requirement for student membership of an Inn, ICCA may be seen as a more favoured provider of training, disrupting competition for students in an open market.”

And, as reported by Legal Cheek, the Inns’ lack of university status may be an issue too. In June, sources told us the ICCA had already held talks with at least one university about a possible joint venture, but that it’d rather go it alone.

It’s also still not clear which Inns will host the new BPTC, though there are some clues out there.

Inner Temple, for one, is planning on building an “education and training centre” for wannabe barristers. The radical redevelopment includes a 120-seat lecture theatre and break out spaces.

And in 2015 we revealed that Lincoln’s Inn was building a bunker under its historic medieval hall. Architects’ drawings, acquired by Legal Cheek, showed that the new “educational suite” would be split over two subterranean floors and include a 150-seat lecture theatre.

A computer generated image of what the bunker will look like when complete

While the profession continues to iron out the creases, Langdon has said it’s “vital” barrister training is addressed. “We will wither on the vine if we do not take care of the most junior barristers,” he concluded.

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18 Comments

Anonymous

That’s a lovely looking bunker. My history lessons suggested they were a lot uglier.

Anonymous

The Inns are bound to fuck this up

Anonymous

Coming soon: Lincoln’s Inn agrees premises swap deal with BPP Doncaster in groundbreaking move north

Anonymous

Anything to stop tenants rent payments to chambers being hoovered up into Professor Provost Nigel Savage’s Private Equity kitty via “scholarships” for artificially inflated “fees” for bullsh1t courses.

It’s a scandal and it never should have happened.

Anonymous

I don’t understand this comment – is the suggestion that the Inns will be paying contractors to deliver the course?

Anonymous

At the moment, hard working tenants at the bar pay lots of money to the Inns, a chunk of which is paid to students as scholarships which cover the fees of BPTC courses.

So it is a straight net transfer, like a tax, from earnings of barristers to the private equity funds which own for-profit “universities” like BPP and the College of Law.

Nottsman

But Lincoln’s Inn have already broken ground underneath its ancient hall.

What’s groundbreaking about moving to Doncaster and doing it again?

@nighthawkprof

disappointed that grays has not yet built such a tunnel — proximity to st pancras means it is a whole lot easier to get to paris for the weekend out of any of the inns

perhaps they should build one in that direction with an exit on the other end quite near the station?

that would make it the very best of inns

Anonymous

Does anyone know any of the people shown in the photograph used by LC (yet again) at the top of this article? I assume they were bar students when the photo was taken.

Are they in practice? Where are they now?

Nottsman

Lawrence Fox couldn’t get pupillage and went into acting instead.

Tired lawyer

Deeply mixed feelings- particularly on restricting access. It is deeply unfair those with no chance of pupillage get into all that debt, but equally put a first or even a 2.1 minimum on the course is going to stop good advocates getting through. Not sure what other entry requirements they can really put in?

Perhaps you ca only get in if you have a pupillage or a 2.1?

Anonymous

How is that surprising? The profession is about advocacy but it’s also about intellectual analysis. You shouldn’t be surprised that a profession built on intellectual analysis requires a minimum academic standard, and 2.i is a pretty low bar.

Pantman

While I don’t support these comments, a first or a 2:1 isn’t going to guarantee a pupillage either.

BPTC student

We’re adults. We’re responsible for our own financial decisions. There’s a wealth of information out there on how difficult it is to get pupillage.

If someone with no pupillage, no scholarship, and a 2.2 in social studies from Nottingham wishes to borrow 20 grand for the BPTC, they’re deserve to be saddled with this debt for years to come as a life lesson.

Stop thinking how to babysit us.

Anonymous

Nottingham is a fine university.

For a joke, try Bristol UWE.

Anonymous

i doubled my salary into well over 100k from just sitting bptc and no pupillage so really dont and never have got the vitriol thrown against students who take this route and the bptc as an excellent professional legal qualification.

just seems like a chip alot of people have

Anonymous

Would love to read some details of how this worked out for you.

Anonymous

timing…career change…little bit of luck..crazy boss…..

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