Exclusive: Budding barristers prefer full and part-time options
The City Law School has suspended its two-part bar course due in part to a lack of sign-ups from wannabe barristers, Legal Cheek can reveal. The law school’s other bar courses, including the full-time and part-time options, are unaffected by the move.
City Law School confirmed that following a review of the course and consultation with students, it has taken the decision to suspend new applications, with effect from July 2021.
An email, circulated among students and seen by Legal Cheek, cites “low numbers” as one of “various reasons” for the suspension, which received approval from the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
“Both the full-time and part-time BVS programme proved much more popular with students than the two-part BVS,” a spokeswoman for City Law School told us. “We are pleased to say that the numbers for both of these courses remain steady, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
Part one of the Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) course sees aspiring barristers complete two centrally-set examinations, civil litigation and dispute resolution; and criminal litigation, evidence and sentencing, and is delivered entirely online. Meanwhile, part-two focuses on the more hands-on modules such as advocacy and conferencing, and requires attendance on campus — Covid permitting, of course.
A raft of law schools launched similar two-part courses after the barristers’ regulator, the Bar Standards Board, approved a series of revamped training rules in a bid to make the route to qualification more flexible and affordable.
Students who are currently enrolled on part one of the course can continue onto part two as planned this September, the spokeswoman confirmed. They will also have the option to switch to the full-time or part-time programmes.
On when students can expect the suspension to be lifted, the spokesperson said: “It is too early to confirm this — at the moment we are concentrating on reviewing the two-part BVS. We review all of our courses regularly to ensure that they are relevant, competitive and attractive to students.”
News of the suspension comes just weeks after it was revealed there has been a 50% rise in the number of wannabe barristers submitting pupillage applications through the Gateway. Over 3,300 bar hopefuls chased just 246 pupillage spots during the 2021 cycle. It’s worth noting these figures do not include applications submitted outside the Gateway.