The Bar Standards Board (BSB) will allow a “limited” number of alternative routes to qualification as a barrister, and has recommended reforming the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
In October, the BSB proposed three new options for qualifying as a barrister in its Future Bar Training Consultation.
It now has settled on the second of those three options, a “managed pathways approach” where there would be a range of different ways to qualify, a similar proposition to what the SRA is currently mooting for the solicitors profession.
The BSB says that one of these alternate routes “is likely to be a new training course, which has been proposed by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) and the Bar Council.” This would entail breaking up the BPTC into two parts, with attendance at law school not compulsory for the first part.
The BSB said the BPTC must become “a less risky and more valuable investment (both financially and personally) for those who undertake it” and acknowledged that “the two-stage model clearly has strong support from the profession and it could become very popular.”
It added that while “for the immediate future the current BPTC will of course have to continue, at least in the short term, to provide training for those who have already been accepted onto the course,” after 2018/19 when the licences of current course providers expire, proposals for alternatives to the BPTC should be considered.
BSB Chair Sir Andrew Burns said: “Our role as the regulator is not to design the courses themselves, but to set a robust framework for authorising course providers. We have clear criteria for doing so and we will be developing our Authorisation Framework in consultation with the Bar, training providers and other groups with an interest in Bar training.
“We look forward to more flexible, accessible and affordable training courses in future which will maintain the high intellectual and professional standards demanded at the Bar.”
Elsewhere in the report, the BSB concluded that the Bar “should remain a graduate profession normally requiring at least a 2:2 classification”; that the Bar Course Aptitude Test should be retained; and that “the BSB should review the way in which Ethics is taught and assessed.”