Bar Council slams plan to allow solicitors to qualify as barristers without pupillage

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Proposals could also include law lecturers

The Bar Council has reacted angrily to plans that could see solicitors and law lecturers qualify as barristers without needing to complete pupillage.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has mooted a number of radical new ideas in recent months as part of its Future Bar Training consultation. The eight-week project, which concluded last week, includes proposals to automatically passport solicitors with rights of audience and academics through qualification as barristers.

The plan hasn’t gone down too well over at the Bar Council.

In a fiery response, the Bar Council argued that the wave of pupillage-less solicitors joining the bar would “unacceptably dilute the high standards rightly required of practising barristers; and it will provide an easy parallel route to the bar for those practitioners who have failed the bar’s entry and training requirements.”

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The Bar Council added:

“It is easy to see that this will be attractive to solicitors who regard admission to the bar as a badge of achievement, and who will recognise that this route to that badge is fundamentally less arduous than the route barristers currently take.”

Not all of the BSB’s new training plans have been met with such fierce levels of criticism.

In May, the regulator revealed pupillage awards across England and Wales will be set in line with the salaries recommended by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF). Living wage rates are currently £17,212.50 in London and £14,765.63 elsewhere, the BSB said in a new policy statement. Prior to this, the minimum a chambers could pay was £12,000.

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Well, obviously. It would soon become the standard route to the Bar for the Alexes and the Tommys.

BPTC ==> high street paralegal for three years ==> “qualify” as solicitor through “alternative means” ==> transfer ==> mum, I’m a barrister


A Journo


A smattering if GCSEs followed by working in the post room of a shed firm then CILEX and cross qualifying to the Bar. Why not give silk when cross qualifying too?

Pupillage. Hah. Waste of time. Let’s hand out practicing certificates in 20,000 boxes of Frosties.

Non pupillage advocates. They’re grrrrrrrrrrreat!


A Barrister with morals

What it will do is allow minorities in. It’s an arbitrary selection process that weeds out black, brown and poor people.

Disagree? Let’s make the bar results and degree results public.

Yup thought that might be a problem for you.


A Barrister.

I’m not sure I can see a problem with this.

It’s the quality of the advocacy that matters, wherever the skills were obtained.

High quality advocates have nothing to fear as the less able will not be instructed if they foul up a case.


Mr. Charles

Bad idea. Bad for the bar, bad for clients, bad for justice.



Wow. That’s a well reasoned argument.
These barristers are great!



You’re surprised? Barristers add zero legal value. They just add the pomp which some clients like. Of course they are protectionists.


Just a Barristers Clerk

So a solicitor, who’s a professional would “dilute” the quality of the bar? I can’t see how the rationale behind the BSB’s outrage. What does a barrister do that a solicitor can’t? What’s outrageous is the fact that the BSB is allowed to uphold a monopoly. Any whiff of outside competition and it’s swiftly shut down.

The law industry needs to deregulate because; A. It artificially raises the prices for the general public who want access to justice and B. The regulations imposed today are not fit for the 21st Century



Because the BPTC and a 12 month pupillage involves a considerable amount of advocacy, which the average solicitor/ HCA does not have experience of. For those that do have that experience, which is assessed against the BSB’s ‘Professional Statement for Barristers’, there is already a reduction or outright removal of the requirement to complete pupillage.



Indeed, the considerable amount of advocacy undertaken by barristers is what distinguishes their professional activity from that of solicitors. I’d also highlight something that people (i.e. non-barristers/Bar-hopefuls) often forget – advocacy is not just about being on your feet. Competent *written* advocacy is a highly desirable skill; young barristers are drilled and drilled and drilled for it. Trainee solicitors/most practising solicitors, regardless of years’ experience, do not draft anything like the number of detailed documents/submissions that barristers draft.

Not only would the quality of oral advocacy in courtrooms plummet if these BSB proposals were implemented; the quality of written submissions would also be at risk.



The whole barrister/solicitor distinction is stupid anyway. Solicitors do the same thing as barristers with a little less advocacy. Add further advocacy training to the LPC and bingo, you have a barrister. The higher rights exam is testament to that.

We need a system similar to the American one.



If it ain’t broke don’t fix it


Barrister and US Counsel

It’s broke.


Barrister and US Counsel

It’s broke.



Solicitors and Barristers do not do the same thing.



oh yeahhh you’re right.. they’re not both lawyers.



Because they aren’t allowed to.



In America (that shining beacon of justice) there are people called trial lawyers who are effectively Barristers for all intents and purposes.

In fact there boutique litigation only firms.



In Canada the qualification process is the same and a qualified lawyer can call themselves “barrister” or “solicitor” or “Barrister and Solicitor”.

The label one chooses tends to distinguish those who lean towards trial advocacy and those who lean towards litigation.

In England and Wales, a Solicitor- Advocate and a Barrister-Litigator are practically the same thing, though the latter is not permitted to handle client cash.

Fusion is on the way, people!



Yeah, because like 90% of commercial/corporate sols are rushing to become HCAs, and about the same proportion of the bar is rushing to get the litigation certificate. A real trend towards fusion, innit.



90% of commercial sols is about 10% of all sols.

What’s your point?

You have no business being a lawyer with those analytical skills.


The bars don’t regulate which attorneys can go into court based on a system of who you know not what you know.

See how more women and minorities are practicing in the US than here?

Pass the rigorous tests, get through character and fitness and you can practice in court.



The US has more minorities. The UK at last count was 87% white.

Sad I know but Asians, Orientals are in fact over represented.

Citation needed for your claim that the US has many more women in practice.



At the moment solicitor advocates can claim a reduced pupillage so I don’t see what’s wrong with the current situation.

Allowing academics and solicitors with limited advocacy experience to be exempt from pupillage is silly.



Academics yes.

Solicitors (apart from partners with at least 10 years PQE) no.


Horace Rumpole’s French Teacher

Do you mean to say you’d rather an academic got an easier ride to the bar than a five year solicitor?! I know some crap lecturers who would love that.



What a ridiculous idea.



There’s plenty of five year incompetent solicitors who would love that



And plenty of incompetent barristers



I partly agree with this. Academics talk about law all day and I can already imagine them lecturing a judge on what the law really is. The best barristers, in my opinion, are usually people with excellent academics (PhD, law lecturer level) plus strong advocacy skills. A lecturer that has to go through students questioning him\her over points of law for more than 5 years is in my view, waaaay better suited to the Bar than most solicitors who draft contracts and give their occasional half baked legal opinion once a year. Even when they do this, the academic barrister is always their insurance policy.

A perfect example of this is Erskine Chambers. Whilst these solicitor firms practice corporate law and call themselves the leaders, you would be hard pressed to find any corporate law related litigation matter that will not involve someone from Erskine or Southsquare, which are places full of academic barristers knee deep in law. Solicitors on the other hand, are too busy dealing with clients and business matters the further up they go. They will usually be the first to tell you that researching a fine point of law (i.e checking cases, judgements and providing citations for every utterance they make) is quite frankly, a waste of client money. They’re better off just saying Barrister so and so with a Phd from so and so is working on it.



The BSB is an incompetent institution.



So is your mum.


JD Partner

She’s competent enough.


Now an annoyed Barristers Clerk

I see my previous comment on the BSB has ruffled some of the board members’ feathers.
Funny how Legal Cheek allows comments that add no value to the conversation yet censor debate


LC regular

Happens all the time.

The tactic now is to delete the comment without even acknowledging that it was even there.



Lady Rachel

I think it’s a brilliant idea ,so many students have passed their Bar course ( considering how very expensive the course is in the uk) only to be stuck in the middle wirh no prospects of practising due to the failure to find pupillage. Remember, they have made an investment in their course only to be unemployed.

Many countries have a dual system, it’s more hopeful , value for money and increases job prospects for lawyers.

There are many brilliant foreign qualified barristers now practising as solicitors in England & Wales who had a dual qualification.
There are some brilliant young lawyers with uk law degrees who have got to an extend of studying the New York bar so as to practice in England & Wales..ridiculous.

I think the new reforms are brilliant!



There’s a reason they don’t get pupillage.



Yes, they call it the inner circle.



“they have made an investment in their course only to be unemployed”.

That’s because they’re not good enough. The stats have always been bleak.

Infact there was a programme based on the hardships of pupillage. That was broadcast in 2007.



And there was an investigation that found institutional racism. Not a damn thing was done about it.


A Vice President

I’ve seen solicitors in immigration courts who would not pass the English language test to study here let alone call themselves barristers.



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



In America (that shining beacon of justice) there are people called trial lawyers who are effectively Barristers for all intents and purposes.

In fact there boutique litigation only firms.



Chambers will always be the gatekeepers of quality. Chumps need not apply.



Loads of chumps in Chambers. Rent fodder.



Depends which chambers. The commercial and chancery sets are full of very bright people. Those doing anything else – especially family, crime and personal injury – are very mediocre intellectually.



Wankers do chancery and commercial.

Boring as fuck. Leave the lights off and don’t drink or smoke.



Yep, all those mediocre chaps who just defend people’s liberty, because that’s easy right ?

I mean the most celebrated and admired barristers aren’t people like Sir Edward Marshall Hall, Sir William Garrow, Lord Erskine, Sir Patrick Hastings etc.

I hope you do get a dud when you’re eventually prosecuted. A bit of time inside will knock some sense in to that scant bit of grey tissue you refer to as your brain.



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



Quite. Add defamation to that. People like Marshall Hall were no doubt great advocates but nobody would suggest they possessed formidable intellects. The Chancery and Commercial Bars have always fielded the cleverest barristers, simply because how smart you have to be to practise in those fields.



They were in practice not academia. Intellectuals aren’t lawyers. Scientists, historians mathematicians, engineers {Brunel} etc are the people that come to mind when one pictures an intellectual.

They’re intellect wasn’t measured against their contemporaries as far as I know. Also unlike today they were all rounders until they decided to specialise.

However they did save a great many innocents from the noose and that’s enough for one lifetime.



family “law” is the intellectual equivalent of colouring in



You cannot be very mediocre. It would seem you do not need to have mastered GCSE English to practice in a Chancery set.



Yes, you can. Mediocre means “average” and it is perfectly acceptable to say “very average”.



Are you sure mediocre means average?


You’re a lawyer i.e. you couldn’t hack it in Greats, Maths or Medicine.



About time the snobs were made to have competition. The old school is coming to an end. They are scared to bits at the competition.



Solicitor advocates have hardly made a dent and they’ve been granted higher rights since 1991.

In fact, Direct Access was launched in 2004ish which effectively means that solicitor advocates had more than a decade long headstart.

Face it. The whole solicitor advocate thing’s a farce motivated by greed. CPS doesn’t brief solicitor advocates for complex matters.

All the advocates do, is eat up junior/baby bar work.

Thereby reducing social mobility at the bar. It seems your beloved fused system perpetuates the elitism you speak of.

That’s it.



Bluestone. Yes.



The good sets don’t take crap. Commercial, criminal, family whatever. The only way the Bar will survive is to provide expert advice with real advocacy – written and oral.

I’m at a half decent set. My chambers doesn’t let in dross and decent sols no the different between a jobbing common law barrister and a specialist.

The only sector this harms is the general public. No doubt the entrants will focus on direct access. A source of work where one’s reputation, tirelessly built up over years, means nothing. Barristers who don’t have a clue simply give the rest of us a bad name.

If you don’t like the above then you have no business being at the Bar which should represent excellence and integrity better than some fool hearty notion of allowing greater access/equality of outcome.



Agreed. There is a greater principle at stake here, which trumps mere ambition: the administration of justice.



As a side note – not entirely sure how relevant this is – but it was interesting to look at the Time Uni league table at the weekend and contrast that with the social mobility table. Essentially, they just sat inversely to one another. So the bottom sets for quality were top for diversity.

This is not to slam diversity – the best sets have a healthy range of people which incorporates tensions due to the range of views. But diversity for the sake of equality of outcome is the road to irrelevance.

The lack of diversity at the Bar is a symptom of wider problems in society. Don’t rip up one of the best institutions in the world because it is an easy answer and makes you feel better about your failure.



Americanism this diversity rubbish.

Why should diversity even factor in law ?

Should almost all of English jurisprudence and case law be thrown out because it was the work of pale male and stale individuals ?



Sounds like something a white supremecist would say.



Yep white supremacists are known for their race blindness.

America is America.

The UK is the UK. .

America is the land of slavery i.e. black people there are descendant of slaves/ who were forcibly shipped unlike here where black people are by and large voluntary arrivals.

America just like South Africa is the land of nasty racial segregation. Unlike the UK which was racist no doubt but the racism was never as severe as the American barbarism that was Jim Crow where lynchings were common.


The professional conduct code is specific about embracing diversity. You’re an unethical lawyer. Report yourself.


I’ve lived studied and worked in both. The English are the most racist people on earth. I’ve found the students and professors at Oxford to be very unlike the members of the bar who on the whole seem to think themselves above everything and everyone intellectually and racially. This is why the massive majority of the bar are white male. Your system is broken. You think you’re less racist than the US? That’s showing your ignorance right there. The numbers don’t lie.


It’s awesome when white people lecture on racism.


If your writing skills can’t differentiate no from know you should t be a lawyer.


Not a half decent set

Your half decent set don’t care about spelling in their application process, by the look of your comment. Sadly almost all clients (professional and lay) do. Sure you didn’t mean half-descent?



Couldn’t be arsed to proof read my anon message. I ain’t getting paid for it. If you think the message is crap due to a spelling mistake then good for you.



Good luck saying that to a Judge when hauled over the coals for a drafting error in a fixed fee case!


A real one

Remember, this is a profession where a comma out of place can make a difference to the outcome.

You have a lot to learn, my boy!





Just a Solicitor!

This is fair providing the background of the solicitor is also taken into account. I have represented clients in over 200 hearings and successfully tried full arbitration’s against barristers in Keating Chambers and other chambers with trial hearings lasting Upton 5 days. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to dual qualify.



What has fairness got to do with it? It’s not about you.

You are a solicitor that does advocacy. Great stuff. Being a barrister is so much more than doing some advocacy.



Agreed. It’s about protecting the public. The system does not exist for your own amusement. So what if you fancy doing advocacy? If you think you have what it takes to be a barrister, train and qualify as one.



I assume you specialise in arbitration – a pretty niche field in which solicitor advocates have certainly had success. But that isn’t the same as advocacy before a judge at the High Court/Commercial Court etc – barristers need thorough knowledge of complex court procedure, as well as the technical skills required of an advocate.



Quite. Arbitration is a piece of piss, which is why solicitors do it and why it is mad that so many of them are appointed plastic QCs, only having done arbitration.


the iPuffin

I think you’ll find we can do that too.. there’s an argument we get better outcomes too. I have seen lots of cases where the other side have spent a lot of time and money running a crap point, or the work they have done has meant it hasnt quite been good enough and so was a waste anyway.

It’s like having the barrister in doing strategy from the outset.



Because you’re lying. On average you’re inferior to barristers.

Solicitor advocates was just greed and Thatcherism (i.e. false closed shop arguments) mixed with PCness. Look where that’s got us. Sol Advocates aren’t even briefed by the CPS for important matters.

You lot are grubby greedy oiks. If you’re that great qualify. This is a profession just like medicine.



I’d partially agree with this. Lose the need to be called barristers and just crack on with the work.

Maybe start with tribunal advocacy to get used to the skills.. or do other public speaking stuff to practice. Then make the step..



Never heard so much self aggrandising rubbish. Given the number of dog shit barristers I see on a daily basis, I simply do not recognise the profession as described above



Agreed. Lots of crap. I’m pretty sure that is consistent with the above descriptions by barristers of the Bar.

However, if you take a trip to the Applications Court in the Rolls Building you will not see ‘dog shit’.


Inverse Snob

Snob, you are a crashing bore.

I bet you’re a first year student who knows nothing of which you speak!



Nope. Would hate to be a student again. But even if I was, which part don’t you agree with? Play the ball not the man. The previous poster claimed that he saw dog shit barristers on a daily basis.

I had assumed that as he saw barristers in court on a daily basis, he was a solicitor in the county court. I simply suggested that he take a trip to the Applications Court to see some decent advocacy.



As hominem. Did they teach that in your piss poor pupillage?



You see dog shit barristers on a daily basis?

Where, pray tell?



Well once you get out from whatever hell hole you eke out a miserable living you’ll see that you’re wrong.



Non sequitur, pal.


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