Incoming bar chief throws support behind Inns of Court BPTC

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Training shake-up ‘marvellous development’, says Richard Atkins QC

Richard Atkins QC – 📷 (@thebarcouncil)

The incoming Bar Council chief has thrown his support behind an Inns of Court-run Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

During his inaugural speech at Gray’s Inn in London yesterday evening, Richard Atkins QC told an audience of bar bigwigs that the Inns have an “important role” to play in the future education and training of barristers. Citing the Inns of Court College of Advocacy’s (ICCA) plans to launch a new BPTC, the St Philips Chambers silk described it as a “marvellous development” which he hopes to see “up and running in the not too distant future.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Atkins referenced what he believed to be the main issues facing the bar over the coming year. These included the state of the justice system, Brexit, regulation, court reform, equality and diversity, the perception of the Bar Council across the bar, and lastly practising as a barrister. The criminal law specialist takes over from Andrew Walker QC on 1 January 2019.

The 2019 Chambers Most List

Atkins’ comments come just weeks after Shami Chakrabarti claimed the Labour Party would stop the “racket” of expensive BPTCs being run by education “profiteers”. Speaking at the Bar Council’s annual conference last month, the shadow attorney-general and 39 Essex Chambers door tenant said 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”.

Legal Cheek revealed back in October that the ICCA — an education and training organisation made up of judges, lawyers and lecturers — was seeking a “Bar Course Designer” to help create a more “affordable” version of the BPTC. The job ad revealed an anticipated launch date in 2020.

Our BPTC Most List shows wannabe barristers can pay in northwards of £19,000 to secure a place on the vocational course.

Purchase tickets for this year’s Future of Legal Education and Training Conference 2019, on May 22 at Kings Place London



Anyone who attends a private equity owned for-profit BPTC provider should know that their qualification is valueless.

For-profit higher education is wrong and should never have been allowed.

The only value will be in an ICCA qualification within the profession.



ICSL rises from the ashes!



The Bar never had any respect for the BPTC or the failed barristers who teach on it. Good riddance to the private equity firms keeping these failures in employment at the expense of poor students.



In reality, admittance to the BPTC should be restricted to candidates with pupillage offers. Frankly, the BPTC has little value unless you have obtained, or are likely to obtain, pupillage. It is not a transferable qualification. It is designed to prepare candidates for pupillage. Given how difficult it is to obtain pupillage (particularly at the commercial and chancery bars), there is no benefit to completing the BPTC if you do not have pupillage. The Bar should administer the BPTC. This would stop irresponsible course providers taking vast sums of money from candidates who are unlikely to secure pupillage.



Agreed. However, the BPTC in its current format doesn’t actually prepare you for pupillage either – it is just a pointless course involving memorising lots of rules for exams and being trained in methods no one uses by trainers who didn’t make it as barristers. In its current format it is just as pointless for those with pupillage as those without.

What we need is a course run by the Inns covering the essentials for those with pupillage. A short pre-pupillage course. That is all. Everything else is learnt during pupillage anyway.



That’s an exaggeration.

Few barristers will ever admit that they knew bugger all about procedure and advocacy technique when they began the BPTC but a lot more when they’d finished. Or admit that much of their time in pupillage was wasted on sifting the facts of cases that will never come round again.

Barristers in practice are seldom good tutors anyway. And if they are, they have little time to instruct.

None of this is an argument for not changing how training is done, by the way. But if we end up, say, with the Inns doing the training, restricted to those with pupillage offers, the course will remain similar to what we have today.



I agree that the BPTC should be undertaken with a pupillage Offer only/foreign equivalent (and subject to a disrection on the part of the Inns for those who are obviously intending on practicing abroad (e.g. India/Bangladesh). The arguments against this (e.g. it helps people get legal jobs/prepare for interviews) are completely meritless. If no one has done the BPTC without a pupillage, then everyone will be on an equal footing insofar as interviews are concerned (to address the point that you can’t do interviews without it). Similarly, if there is no market for BPTC grads to do other legal work then again it won’t actually impact upon an ability to get a paralegal job etc (as no candidates will have the BPTC, therefore, unless the Firm/Company is just going to leave the vacancy open, they will have to accept that the qualification adds nothing and hire graduates instead).

Insofar as LPC Law is concerned, given that you don’t need the BPTC to be a county court advocate, it would be a matter for them to re-evaluate their recruitment criteria (just to address the awful argument once made that only allowing people to do the BPTC with a pupillage Offer would mean they couldn’t do things like LPC – seems to me an awful awful argument but such as it is actually there is no reason why a lack of BPTC means one could not do LPC).

There are no good arguments for failing to reform the system in this manner. I find it odd that the suggestion is even contentious. Surely all those who want to do the BPTC only want to do it because they want to go to the Bar? As such, I can’t see why anyone would mind the system being reformed. It would also mean that all the no-hopers aren’t limited to 6 years of “chances” to get pupillage. They can keep applying for ever!


Makes you think init

Why not just become a stripper at 18 and save up to buy a strip bar for later instead?

40 – 18 = 22 years of high wages = enough money for later investments ££££!!!



Fair point well made


Bumpole of the Bailey

The exquisite art of advocacy…. You obviously did the BPTC at BPP…



If you were to restrict BPTC offers to those that had pupillage then the classes would be mostly 70% empty. When I did the BVC , there were about 100 of us and on starting in September only one had a offer at a MC set . By July there were about 15/20 with offers. And don’t forget it often takes a year or two post BVC to get an offer even for the most able students. The BVC allows you to undertake national and international moot competitions and doing well in those can be the difference. There were some on my course who had brilliant academics to the point of ridiculousness. However they couldn’t string a sentence together..



What do you mean class would be 70% empty? It would be 100% full – the course numbers would be capped to reflect the fact that only 500 or so people will have pupillage offers every year. The current 2000+ BPTC student numbers is ridiculous.



As head of the pupillage committee at London’s leading commercial/chancery set, I confirm that a candidate’s BPTC result is *the* most important consideration in recruitment decisions.



Bullshit, half your pupil applicants haven’t even started the BPTC yet.
Unless by ‘commercial/chancery’ you mean you specialise in suing shops wet floors



Sounds like someone didn’t do too well in their BPTC results



lol you are not head of pupillage. You are someone who got a 2.1 from a poly and Outstanding on BPTC and struggling to get pupillage. Aren’t you?



Wind up

I’ve been involved in recruitment at a London chambers, and it’s: Oxbridge firsts, Oxbridge, the rest

The vocational year is completely irrelevant



Oxbridge 1sts, Oxbridge, the rest, Desmonds from ex-polys, Durham 1sts, being taught law by a hobo you suck off for payment, Durham


Charlie Proudfoot

As head of a Pupillage committee your stunning LinkedIn picture is THE most important consideration…


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