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BPP Law School launches new two-part BPTC

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Exclusive: Shorter, more flexible option will allow students to pause their studies after completing stage one

BPP University Law School (BPP) is to offer a new two-part Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which will see would-be barristers given the option to pause their studies at the end of stage one.

Legal Cheek can reveal that the law school’s new Barrister Training Course (BTC) is shorter than the current BPTC — eight months, as opposed to 12 — and will be available from September 2020.

The course, which is still subject to approval by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), is divided into two distinct, four-month teaching blocks, with students able to pause their studies upon completion of stage one. This, according to BPP, will give aspiring barristers “flexibility around any other commitments such as gaining paid work experience”.

BPP told Legal Cheek that students will be ready to sit the BSB centralised assessments — civil and criminal procedure, as well as evidence — at the end of stage one, while advocacy skills will be taught across the whole programme.

News of the course comes after the BSB approved a series of new training rules in a bid to make the route to qualification as a barrister more flexible and affordable.

BPP added that students will be supported by “intuitive online tools” that will give them instant feedback on their learning and help them track their progress, as well as an option to choose between “common law or commercial practice contexts” during part two of the course. The cost of the BTC will be revealed next month.

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Mark Keith, lead designer of the BTC at BPP University Law School, said:

“The new regulations have given us more freedom in the way we can deliver our training to student barristers. From day one, our students will learn to think and act like a barrister. Students will get regular opportunities to apply their knowledge by tackling realistic legal scenarios that will prepare them for the types of cases they are likely to encounter within their pupillage.”

The current BPTC offered by BPP will remain unaffected by these changes.

Elsewhere in the world of barrister training, The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) confirmed earlier this spring that it had applied for permission to deliver its own version of the BPTC priced at £13,000. This, as we pointed out at the time, is lower than any current provider of the BPTC and around 30% lower than any of the London-based BPTCs.

Rival providers including The University of Law (ULaw) are expected to follow with their own BPTC announcements in the coming months.

BPP revealed earlier this month details of a new law conversion course tailored specifically for students looking to sit the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE, otherwise known as the super-exam, is due to come into force in September 2021 and will replace both the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC).

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28 Comments

Kirkland NQ

Barrister more like barista POWPOW some sort of joke about my LAMBO haha did I mention I went to HARVARD hahahahaha I didn’t go to Exeter and become a paralegal in my daddy’s regional firm powpowpowpow

Anonymous

The highest earning partner in the city went to Exeter…

Mate

What’s the NQ for a commercial barrister?

Anonymous

£200k. Moving to £300k after a year.

Realist

Minus the private school fees, child support plus maintenance to former spouses, psychiatrist fees and Sunday Times Wine Club subscription.

Gotta spend money to make money.

Anonymous

I used my income to buy a buy to let flat each year for the first five years.

Realist

You must have a lot of ex-wives to support

Bill

Still a waste of time. Could all be done in three months after graduating over a summer rather than take a whole year.

olufunmilayo ige

how so?

Former Bazza

As a former Bazza, doing a mix of commercial lit, and specialist civil lit, think prof neg, policy wording and coverage disputes on behalf of financial institutions and construction companies, a first year tenant would be exceedingly lucky to gross £200k in their first year, going on to £300k in their second.
Too junior to be trusted as sole counsel with anything serious and too junior to be led on huge com lit cases.
So the first few years are a diet of small breach of contract type claims, lots of employment and Bankruptcy stuff.

Anonymous

Thank you for honesty laying out what the relatively few who make it can expect. The debt BPTC students are saddled with in the hope of very quickly repaying the money is shocking.

In the vein of refreshing frankness, why did you leave the Bar?

Former Bazza

Loved the advocacy, and relative freedom. Hated the delivering of briefs as a junior Bazza the night before a hearing or even worse a trial, which has been ill prepared. Hated the sometimes unnecessary detail that a client expects you to consider, even if it adds nothing to the outcome.

As I said I did a lot of works for financial institutions and the like, and got swayed by making and executing of commercial transactions, rather than arguing about the placement of a comma or whatever in a 40 page set of particulars you have settled for a Silk.
Just couldn’t see myself doing it for decades and decades

Anonymous

Interesting to hear about last minute work in civil chambers. My friends at the criminal bar used to have couriers deliver papers to them at midnight the night before trial regularly.

Former Bazza

Crim Bazzas have it worst, an impossible job for pennies. Sod that.
“MC” sets, a first year tenant can expect to gross 100-120, unless exceedingly lucky where they are 5th junior on a year long huge commercial case.

But then again, that is no more than a tenant of equivalent call in a PI , clin neg or knocK about employment set, doing ET WORK

Anonymous

For the hours they need to put in to earn that though, I’m not sure it’s worth it for anyone who wants to spend real time with their family.

Former Bazza

Anon, yes you are correct, the work as a baby junior in the sets I describe are insane, despite what Legal Cheek say, in their survey, when they posit how many hours baby junior Bazzas work in various sets.

The idea that a baby junior doing PI/Clin neg/employment works 50 hours a week is utter nonsense. More like 80 plus, at least at a good busy set

Anonycounsel

This is garbage and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes about what it is like to practice at the Bar. 80 hours a week means working from 9am to 8.30pm seven days a week. I have a very successful practice in the areas you mention and I do not work anywhere near those hours. I do not know anyone else who does.

Anon

Former Bazza, how many hours a week would you say Baby Juniors work at MC sets and other pure Commercial sets. Are the hours/pay any different in Construction/Commercial Chancery?

Former Bazza

Baby Juniors in pure commercial sets will typically work less hours than those in PI/Clin Neg/Employment sets. As the volume of cases that pass their desk are appreciably less. That said post pupillage they will still have plenty of Employment, Bankruptcy, and mortgage reposession /prof neg work. Much depends on how much they are willing to take on.

In addition to hearings, there are advices and pleadings to settle( in the evenings and weekends) But you wont get much change out of 60 hours per week at least. You can imagine what happens when you are briefed in an employment case listed for 3 days, where you receive the brief 48 hours before the hearing…
Proper construction work the sort that Atkins and Keating do, pay broadly the same as MC commercial sets, give or take.

Proper commercial/Chancery sets like Wilberforce pay all in all more than MC sets. The work ( even small stuff) involves large sums in dispute and is routinely mind bogglingly complex. Hope that helps.
You can get an indication by looking at average billings per barrister as reported every year by the Lawyer. Last time I looked Wilberforce was about 800k, and Fountain court was about 600k. Don’t get too exited these figures are skewed by the vast amount of silk billings!

Anon

Former Bazza, thank you so much for this! Really useful. Would you be able to post the link on the Lawyer. Can’t seem to find it

Former Bazza

It is behind a pay wall, and I no longer subscribe to it!

Former Bazza

Anonycounsel@5.13 PM, can I ask what call you are, and what hours you work?

I have friends and former colleagues who are at or about 10 years call at first rate and very busy sets at sets like:

12 KBW
Littleton
Old Square
4 New Square
39 Essex Street

Who are doing a mixture of PI,Clin Neg. Prof Neg, Employment, or combinations thereof and thee sets have too much work rather than the reverse. It involves traversing the Country at very short notice , undertaking interlocutory hearings, one after the other and ditto full trials. Added to which , there are conferences with Counsel, pleadings, and advices to be settled, and proofs of evidence to be drafted. If one is in court 4 days a week, these can only be done in the evening/weekends…. Third rate knock about civil sets, or members who refuse stuff I accept entirely that one can work less . But as a baby junior it is not within your gift to say to Clerks,”please blank out the next 6 weeks for court hearings, as I have paperwork to do”. It ain’t happening at the sets I described.

Anonycounsel

You have mentioned that you are no longer in practice. You are therefore relying upon your friends and former colleagues to give you an accurate account of how much work they are doing. Asking a barrister to tell you how many hours they work in a given week is a bit like asking a man to describe the size of his undercarriage. You are never going to get an honest answer.

Doing the best I can to give you an honest answer, I am in court almost every day. I tend to leave for court around 7am, in the hope that I then arrive before 9am. Around two-thirds of my hearings will keep me there until the end of the court day. The remainder end early and free up some time. If I am in court all day I usually get home around 6.30pm, but often much earlier. Preparing the next day’s cases (and doing paperwork) usually takes until 8pm or so. There is a great deal of variation but this is the usual routine. It might sound like I work long hours but it is worth bearing in mind that the intensity of the work is often quite low. There is a tremendous amount of travelling and waiting around. I then tend to work on Sunday afternoon and evening but this leaves most of the weekend free. I won’t try to add up the hours which I am ‘working’ but I would be nowhere near the 80 hours per week figure you mentioned above. And before you suggest that I am a lazy barrister (which may be true!) I should add that my yearly billings are close to £200,000.

There are plenty of able students out there who would react with horror to the idea of working 80 hours per week. They might feel like the Bar is not for them. I want to make clear that the Bar (at least, in my experience) is not like that.

Former Bazza

Anony counsel, true I am no longer in practice, I opined on my own experience and those I worked with. Let’s say you are at a set like Old Square doing PI and Employment as a baby junior, say under 5 years tenancy.
It is an undeniable fact that these sets have too much work rather then the opposite. Typically, you will be in Court every day , up and down the country doing interim applications. In addition you can expect to see 10 days worth of fast track trials and 1/2 day ET hearings. That in and of itself when you take in to account preparation is going to get you to circa 60 hours a week.

The real killer is the paperwork, advices and pleadings ( which are all “urgent”), that has to be done sometime , and that will have to be the weekend and evenings, not including conferences . I accept you can ask to have a week or so blocked out from doing court work so you can catch up on paperwork, but realistically you are expected to suck it up. That gets you to 80 hours a week, although I accept some of that is travel time. But even whilst travelling you are /should be still working either on the forthcoming hearing or doing bits of straight forward paper work.

Obviously ten years plus you can pick and choose. Even Silks who take on fewer cases , albeit larger ones certainly did 60 hours, or the ones I worked with did.

The set I was in new tenants billed on average 100k, they didn’t do that by doing the odd trial here and there, and settling 5 sets of particulars a week. Some found it so stressful they changed careers or left to work for city firms.

But as you say it much depends on as to whether you wan’t to turn down work, which in very good sets will be frowned upon as a baby junior if you do it too often

Former Bazza

And also you get an idea of the hours your peers are working by looking at the central court diary.
If you have 3 or 4 three day ET trials in your diary in a month which don’t crack, then the hours will be horrendous.

Anonymous

Oh great, even more opportunities for people to complete the BPTC only to not get pupillage. Why is the Bar trying to funnel even more people in when, at it stands, approximately 60% of all BPTC graduates never obtain pupillage?

Anon

I would love to know how many barristers have those law school conglomerates within their investment portfolios…

Anon

And for those who take the supposedly easy option of in-house practice, I can assure you that, at a senior level, 80 hours plus weeks are not unusual – plus travelling time, of course.
Salary plus benefits ( pension insurance bonus shares etc) depends on company performance but £200-£300k isn’t unusual , can be a great deal more.
Difference being you have the same clients every day, and are expected to know everything about everything.

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