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Labour would stop BPTC ‘racket’ run by ‘profiteers’

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Let Inns offer the vocational course, says shadow attorney-general Baroness Chakrabarti

Baroness Chakrabarti

The Labour Party would put an end to the “racket” of expensive Bar Professional Training Courses (BPTC), the shadow attorney-general has said.

Speaking at the Bar Council’s annual conference in London on Saturday, Baroness Chakrabarti MP said BPTC “profiteers” were “on fair notice that change is coming”. The 39 Essex Chambers door tenant revealed Labour was ready to “work with the bar and the Inns enthusiastically and creatively on the best way to invest in the best future of the profession.”

Throwing her support behind a proposal by shadow solicitor general Nick Thomas-Symonds to hand control back to the Inns of Court, Chakrabarti told the audience:

“Writing in The Times earlier this year, Nick signalled our intention under the next Labour government, not just to end university tuition fees, but to end the racket of bar courses that offer too many places for too high fees to too poor students, many of whom have no prospect of the pupillage that remains the gateway to the profession.”

Quoting Thomas-Symonds’ article, which was published back in February, Chakrabarti continued:

“Let the Inns become the course providers. Let them train the smaller number of students who do have a genuine chance of pupillage, expand their scholarship and bursary programmes and build a profession of barristers from many different backgrounds. While the Inns are in London, there is no reason why they could not establish regional centres. For all the years of consultation, the best means to create the profession we all want to see was staring us in the face the entire time.”

A number of law schools in recent years have introduced aptitude tests to restrict entry onto their bar courses. First rolled out by Kaplan (which discontinued its BPTC in 2014), the University of Law (ULaw) introduced a similar pre-course assessment in 2015. Legal Cheek’s BPTC Most List shows aspiring barristers can pay in excess of £19,000 to secure a place on the vocational course.

The 2019 BPTC Most List

Chakrabarti’s comments come just weeks after we revealed The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) — an education and training organisation made up of judges, lawyers and lecturers — was looking to hire a “Bar Course Designer” to help it create a more “affordable” version of the BPTC ahead of an anticipated launch date in 2020.

But what will this new cheaper vocational offering look like? Well, Legal Cheek understands the new-look BPTC could see aspiring barristers tackle knowledge-based learning, such as civil and criminal procedure, during stage one, before moving on to the more practical elements of the course, such as advocacy and conferencing, as part of stage two.

This two-part approach, in theory, would allow bar-hopefuls to make a more informed decision at the end of stage one (based on exam results and pupillage application success) as to whether or not to proceed to the more expensive stage two.

You can read Chakrabarti’s speech in full here.

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28 Comments

Anonymous

Baroness Chakrabarti: ‘I’m a democrat, I don’t know about you Andrew, but I’m a Democrat.’

Andrew Marr: ‘Don’t try to patronise me, I’m as much of a Democrat as you are.’

Live on BBC One.

Pretty much sums Chakrabarti up.

Anonymous

What?

Anonymous

Are you saying that she can be summed up as a democrat? If not, what?

nice but dim

Such a democract that she accepted a peerage and sits in the unelected House of Lords?

(Not that I am anti-HoL; just seems to slightly go against what she said.)

Anonymous

All well and good, save that the HoL is a vital part of our democracy.

Anonymous

It’s a crucial part of our government. It does seem a bit non-sensical to call it a crucial part of “democracy”.

Quite rightly, it acts as a check on the less-beneficial elements of “democracy” – populism, rushed drafting, tyranny of the majority etc.

If only they were all still hereditary peers.

Marr

Marr is an intolerable person, gives the Tories a free pass and can’t hack it when a left-leaning woman puts him in his place.

Anonymous

Don’t be dense. It sums her up in the sense that it displays the nasty style of argument the left is known for these days.

Namely, that they refuse to accept that reasonable people could even disagree with them. And if you dare to, they will slap a nasty label on you.

So, Andrew Marr disagrees with her Brexit stance: thus, he’s an anti-Democrat.

Similarly, disagree with gender pay gap arguments? you’re a misogynist! Want to limit immigration? You’re a racist! Think that maybe the religion of Islam has some bad points? You filthy Islamophobe…

Dense person

You sound very reasonable. Does “dense” qualify as a “nasty label”?

Anonymous

No. It’s an objectively correct statement justified by empirical data: namely your post of 12:55 completely misunderstanding the obvious point being made, and your follow-up rebuttal at 10:00 falsely suggesting that my own logic undermined my own position.

Of course, one way I could be wrong would be that you are, in fact, not dense, but just an intellectually dishonest individual willfully engaging in time-wasting obfuscation because he/she/xe knows that he/she/xe can’t win the argument on its merits.

Is that what you’re saying?

Dense person

Not at all. I didn’t post at 12.55 and I agree with most of what you said at 6.10. But it is immensely unhelpful to start your comment with an insult if you actually want engagement, and even less helpful to be pompous.

Anonymous

The nasty style of argument paraded by the left is exactly what the post above suggests.

Anonymous

Great, common sense prevails!

However I can’t see this being a legislative priority. Maybe year 3 of Labour’s first term if we’re lucky.

Anonymous

Great idea, awful woman. She’s such a hypocrite (see Shami on private education) that I wouldn’t be surprised if she went on to set up her own BPTC course.

Anonymous

“Baroness”

Anonymous

Errr …

Labour started this racket.

Anonymous

She’s not an MP, fools, she’s a member of the House of Lords there on Corbyn’s patronage!

(In case LC amends its article without making this clear, it formerly said in the second line of the second paragraph that the Baroness is an MP.)

Anonymous

Ha it still says it.

Anonymous

Well I’ve obiously shamed the daft kids into it then!

Anonymous

Great.

Fantastic.

Should’ve been done years whiz

For profit providers just exploiting people.

Outrageous.

Anonymous

You’re absolutely right, but Labour has waited until Lincolns is only a few months off from opening the subterranean learning area that it has spent two years building. Chakrabarti is taking easy kudos off something that was happening anyway.

Anonymous

This woman is grim. Worse than Dianne Abbott.

Anonymous

Not at maths though

Anonymous

We need to know more detail about what the good baroness is actually arguing for. This could be a good thing if it addresses the fundamentals of the complaints that have been made time and time again.

Or it could be typical Corbyn Labour hatreds oozing out.

The gist of the problem is that far too many students with poor English and poor oral presentation (irrespective of their command of English generally) are allowed onto BPTC courses. This makes the classes run badly. And it means that you get less direct tuition and instruction for your money, so generally raising prices. The large numbers make admin more difficult, so also probably increasing costs that are passed on to the students.

She is quoted as saying:

“Let the Inns become the course providers. Let them train the smaller number of students who do have a genuine chance of pupillage, expand their scholarship and bursary programmes and build a profession of barristers from many different backgrounds. While the Inns are in London, there is no reason why they could not establish regional centres…”

So what will force fewer people to be admitted? What would the criteria be? And why an emphasis on regional centres? Will these also select only the most promising candidates? What will happen to the very many commonwealth students who will return to practise in their home countries?

Because the Inns are made up of people, they will be driven by a profit or income motive just as non-Inn providers are now. So a capping process would need to be applied to them. In which case, why not just impose that on the existing providers?

All in all, there’s a reason to suspect that the proposal is that training will move to the Inns but that nothing much else will change, at least so far as cost and unsatisfactory recruitment to the BPTC goes. If that is right, the explanation is that Labour simply hates the private sector. Simple as that.

Anonymous

Shami is cool. Marr’s tantrum was shameful.

Anonymous

Labour are the biggest racket in town.

The conservatives would like to be a decent-sized racket but they are too incompetent to effect the systematic treachery that Labour initiated under Blair.

Let’s get Brexit done, a nice clean “no deal” exit on WTO is terms, and start afresh with our country on a new and modern trajectory.

Anonymous

Yes let’s do it right now. Sounds great. I love the idea of a ‘clean “no deal” exit’. What could possibly go wrong?

Anonymous

Man please do something to increase your testosterone. Start lifting or quit porn or something – preferably both.

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