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Incredible BPTC handbook advises students to wear ‘double breasted’ jackets in their advocacy exam — and says they’ll be marked down for wearing ‘kinky boots’

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Points also deducted for drinking from water bottles

An incredible list of advocacy assessment dos and don’ts issued to Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students shows barrister hopefuls can lose points for turning up to exams wearing “colourful socks”, “kinky boots” or having their “jacket undone”.

The guide, for students at BPP Law School, reveals wannabe barristers could be deducted between one and three points for committing “offences of professional conduct” in their advocacy assessment. Students on the vocational course must complete two witness-handling exercises, one in examination-in-chief and the other in cross-examination.

An extract from the advocacy assessment guidance

The penalty system (pictured above and below) explains students face deductions of one mark for turning up to the exam with bright socks on or their jacket undone. “Ideally, men’s jackets should be DOUBLE BREASTED or 3-PIECE,” the handbook says. Students are also told “kinky boots”, “non-black shoes for men” and “open toes” could all result in a two-point deduction.

An extract from the advocacy assessment guidance

The top fashion tips don’t stop there. The guidance, which stresses students can be penalised for more than one offence, warns that three points will be lost if their “bra shows”. It continues: “Shirts should be predominantly done UP. Cleavage should not be on show.”

Less specifically, students can also lose points if their appearance is “generally poor”, for example if their hair is “scruffy” or their clothes “dirty”. And don’t draw attention to yourself, the guidance says, with “inappropriate” jewellery.

The 2018 BPTC Most List

Fashion advice aside, the handbook says water and cups will most likely be available during the assessment. So, if students are caught “swigging from bottles” they could incur a penalty of between two and three points.

An extract from the advocacy assessment guidance

A mobile phone going off during the examination may result in a three-point deduction, as could having your hands in your pockets. On the latter offence, the guidance notes:

“Severity here is determined by how long the hand is in the pocket, and whether it is one or both hands.”

Just one week ago, a BPTC student launched a public campaign calling on the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to re-think its “draconian” assessment process. The unnamed aspiring barrister wants both civil and criminal litigation exams to be sat open-book. BPTC students are, as things stand, not allowed to bring practitioners’ texts (such as the White Book or Blackstone’s Criminal Practice) into these exams.

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