Bar Council plans to chop BVC length in half

The Bar Council is considering cutting the length of the BVC by 50 per cent.

Plans to slash the length of the BVC from one year to six months have been mooted in a Bar Council consultation paper aimed at examining the impact that student debt has on access to the bar.

Barristers have until 20 October to respond to the wide-ranging document, which has also suggested that the standard of the BVC could be boosted up to Masters degree level to ensure that students get best value for money.

One of the main recommendations of the report, Funding Entry to the Bar, by Sir David Calvert-Smith QC, is the creation of a voluntary fund to help poorer students kick-start careers at the bar.

Although self-employed barristers already raise an annual 11.7m in scholarships, Calvert-Smith has recommended that the figure should increase by 500,000 every year to help ensure that the bar is not the exclusive preserve of people who can afford to pay for their education.

As a profession that gains its living from the public courts and which provides most of the nations judges, we have a special duty to ensure that we get things right on diversity. We cant simply leave things to the market, said Calvert-Smith.

Other proposals include asking all sets of chambers to make their pupillage offers before students are forced to commit themselves to the cost of the BVC. The report also recommends that the bar should set up systems to monitor and measure the real-time trends affecting entry to the bar, such as social and economic background.

We should put ourselves in a position to monitor entry to the bar in the most sophisticated way. Rather than having to go through months of soul searching about how big the problem is, well be able to deal with it immediately, said Calvert-Smith.