News

Inns of Court strike bar course deal with King’s College London

By on
24

First cohort of budding barristers start this September

The Inns of Court have teamed up with King’s College London to help launch its new bar course, it was announced this morning.

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) — a not-for-profit education and training organisation made up of judges, lawyers and lecturers from all four Inns — confirmed KCL’s Dickson Poon School of Law will act as the validating body for its new, two-part bar course priced at £13,000.

The tie-up means that the ICCA’s first group of budding barristers, who will start this September and are expected to qualify in 2021, will receive their qualification from KCL.

The ICCA says the London uni has been “instrumental” in helping develop part one of the new course, which focuses on criminal and civil litigation, and takes between 12-16 weeks to complete. It is delivered entirely online through interactive forums, practice exercises and assessments, as well as films featuring “real-life” courtroom scenes.

Part two of the course takes between 20-22 weeks to complete and is delivered through face-to-face teaching “within the precincts of the Inns of Court”. This, the ICCA says, will focus on advocacy skills and preparing students for life at the bar.

The Pupillage Gateway closes tomorrow, on Friday 7 February: Find out more about life at the leading chambers by checking out Legal Cheek's 2020 Chambers Most List

Lynda Gibbs, dean at the ICCA, said:

“We are delighted to be announcing this academic partnership with King’s College London and that our students will receive their bar qualification from this prestigious Russell Group university. When we started to develop the ICCA Bar Course, we set out to bring a completely fresh approach to bar training and to deliver an innovative, high quality, flexible and affordable course providing students with a credible qualification to take them into pupillage and beyond.”

A number of big legal players have launched similar, more flexible bar course options in the wake of the BSB’s approval of new training rules aimed at making the route to qualification as a barrister more affordable.

BPP University Law School and its market rival The University of Law have both unveiled similar, cheaper bar courses in recent months, as has City Law School and Nottingham Law School.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

24 Comments

Anonymous

I suppose if you are going to have to waste that much time of your life on a course you could do in 8 weeks, at least having the KCL brand attached mitigates some of the pain.

Anonymous

KCL brand? What brand.

Anonymous

KCL. It means King’s College London. Do keep up.

Bemused

You appear to have mistaken what the person said… “what brand?”… no one wants to employ a someone from dickhead prune.

Anonymous

No, they hadn’t heard of KCL. Are you blind?

Why

I’m glad it’s not a partnership with some private equity owned “university”.

ICCA and KCL are both not-for-profit.

Next step would be ensure those failed barristers who were profiteering from teaching on the awful old BPTCare not allowed to teach at ICCA.

Anonymous

That makes less of a difference than you think. Not-for-profit universities cross-subsidise their course, and are just as extractive when the opportunity arises. Oxford’s BCL costs £25,500 – and provides no more teaching than one of a humanities MSt at £11,000.

I am sure the BPTC racket will carry on just fine.

Khan

Is it different from Bptc..?? I didnt get it..!

Drederick Forsythe Smedley QC

FOX!
where.
FOX!
there!
got to get my bat
FOX!
where.
FOX!
there!
make his face go splat

Anon

A bit insensitive, making light of a death.

Anonymous

Vermin death is OK.

Anon

We’re not talking about your death though

Anonymous

Ah, snowlfake, you seem to care more about vermin than humans. No surprise. Be off with you.

Anon

I thought this new means of qualification was supposed to be “significantly cheaper” than the BPTC, doesn’t look like it though does it? You’re basically a few thousand less for a course half of which is online…

Chris Poulson

You only pay for the online part of the course at the outset and the fees are “just” a few thousand. If you fail or struggle with it you can walk away from the BTC without any further costs.

On the BPTC you pay the entire fee at the outset. If you are not up to it or change your mind you have blown £14- £18500 plus living expenses and lost opportunity costs.

Given that the Bar is a big gamble for most but the few this does appear to be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous

Yes, albeit a pretty small one. It seems as though the Inns are hesitant to convert training into a wholly internal process and restrict access to the course to all but the most capable, for fear of being called elitist. Better that than conning hundreds who never had a chance out of thousands of pounds, though.

Chris Poulson

” Better that than conning hundreds who never had a chance out of thousands of pounds, though.”

I agree that each year there are hundreds of participants on the Bar course who realistically have little or no chance of securing a pupillage. They are, therefore, throwing a sizeable chunk of money down the drain. But are they conned? Or is it more a case of self-delusion because ignorance is indefensible?

It is not as if the uncertainties of pursuing a career at the Bar are unknown; what the very minimum requirements are.

https://pupillageandhowtogetit.com/

Let’s hope that the two-part nature of the new BTC will give those who should have been better advised or wiser in their decision the chance to reassess their prospects without throwing the majority of the course fee down the plug-hole.

If it does that and allows those who can realistically aim for the Bar to do so and for less outlay that will be an improvement of what has gone before.

Anonymous

I agree that the uncertainties of pursuing a career at the Bar are admittedly more known now than they ever have been, as the profession gradually becomes less clandestine. However, the increasing competitiveness of the process means, logically, chambers will have to engage in more and more “hair-splitting” in order to select their pupils. This is the uncertainty that remains.

When you are faced with 50 candidates, all of whom have firsts from good universities, all of whom are accomplished mooters, and all of whom have practical experience of a pertinent area of law, how does one go about selecting the right candidate?

The phrase “good fit” is often banded about, but what does that mean, and how can potential pupils ascertain whether they are a good fit? There is only so much time and so many places for mini pupillages, and the Bar is hardly well-known for its outreach and accessibility programmes.

This problem is only amplified by the fact that there is no uniform process by which chambers can pick pupils. Their paper application and interview processes vary, wildly. Many chambers do not adopt a competency based approach, instead adopting structures that often result in a candidate not being given the opportunity to demonstrate all of their abilities. In a profession as fiercely competitive as this, demanding more time, money and effort expended than most to have a shot at, permitting these variables is not acceptable.

I believe the existing stock of BPTC providers is also somewhat blameworthy for encouraging law graduates to enroll on their courses, in the past setting pathetically low grade requirements and offering very little in the way of teaching quality, in exchange for fees touching and cracking £18,000.

I truly hope the Bar is able to move with the times and implement training and recruitment practices that are reflective of processes in other job sectors and the times we live in. These latest developments are positive, but much more is needed if the profession is to truly step into the 21st century.

Anonymous

First aren’t going to cut it. You need good firsts and ideally prizes too.

And competency based approaches are bollocks. The suit the form fillers and box tickers.

The profession takes on more women than men and a percentage of BAME candidates that reflects the population as a whole. So what needs changing?

Anonymous

@4:56: I could recast my point to incorporate exactly what you’ve said. Candidates with good firsts and prizes are now commonplace. Chambers have generally become more arbitrary in making their selections.

Competency based approaches do run the risk of turning into box ticking exercises, but better that than chambers coming up with their own bollocksy questions to ask. It also allows chambers to provide an actual reason for subsequently rejecting someone, because at the moment what they give is either cliched and unhelpful, or they refuse to provide feedback at all. Bit of a smack in the face when you’ve just spent the last 4+ years studying, mooting, winning prizes, engaging in pro bono and generally speaking prioritising the Bar over other shit.

I’m not arguing for greater diversity and accessibility to the Bar per se. I’m arguing for a recruitment process that treats candidates who have spent more time, money and effort on their career path than most in a fair, open, and consistent manner.

Baz

Pathetic that it’s taken twenty years to achieve such a small reduction in fees.

All the tedious SJW accessibility initiatives in the world aren’t going to compensate for a totally pointless £13,000 bar course.

But then the tedious SJW accessibility initiatives aren’t *really* about improving access are they: they’re about making powerful people look good.

Alfred Walsh

Having completed the BPTC, I can tell you it was an utter waste of time and money. If the BSB really wanted to shake up the system, they should abolish the BPTC/BPC/UTC/whatever-the-name-is-now and move to an apprenticeship system. Instead of two sixes for pupillage, chambers should recruit 4 times their normal pupils based on the LLB/GDL. The new pupils should have a three month mini-pupillage period to show their competence in litigation, advocacy, and drafting/opinion (as a single subject). The top mini-pupil would go through to complete a further 21 months as a pupil. The other three could apply again or go elsewhere. Where we have barely 400 pupillage’s, we could have 1,600 mini-pupils and be rid of bar courses and the absurd Pupillage gateway.

Anonymous

Another good alternative. How many pupillage-less people are there out there with £16,000-£18,000 BPTC certificates, either paid for by themselves or the Inns? Thousands.

The only people who consider the current process to be up to scratch either got pupillage straight away or are so long in the tooth they never had to go through the process in its current form.

Anon

Here’s an idea. The BPTC is effectively just a certificate, right? I mean, it’s no actual use in practice. So why not start a thriving resale market for certificates at a mark-up? It could be the birth of a wonderful new industry.

Getting failed barristers to resit the BPTC exams each year would be the logical culmination of getting failed barristers to teach it.

Join the conversation

Related Stories