Editor’s weekly: A cheap PR stunt?

Kaplan Law School’s controversial decision to introduce an entrance test for students seeking a place on its brand new Bar Vocational Course (BVC) has attracted criticism from its rivals.

The radical move, exclusively revealed by Lawyer2B.com last Thursday (15 October), will centre on a selection day for all short-listed applicants. As well as being interviewed, candidates will be required to take an oral advocacy test and complete a written exercise (read article).

But College of Law (CoL) chief Nigel Savage described the move as “nothing more than a cheap PR stunt.”  He argued: “Kaplan isn’t associated with the BVC and if they’re trying to get the best students this way then it’s not going to work.”

Dean of BPP Law School Peter Crisp also slammed the idea. He said: “For Kaplan to think that they can accomplish in a fairly short space of time what the BSB is spending several years to develop shows a certain disregard for the complex issues of equality and diversity that aptitude testing for a skills-based course should properly involve.”

CoL and BPP’s reaction is to be expected – after all Kaplan is trying to muscle in on their territory.

But whether or not you agree with Savage and Crisp, Kaplan’s high-risk policy will certainly give the BSB some food for thought. The regulator has been grappling with the idea of introducing a universal BVC aptitude test for quite some time with the pilot now being delayed until 2010.

And even if it is just a cheap PR stunt at least one provider is tackling the problem of an over-supply of BVC students head on. So rather than stick the knife in wouldn’t it be more constructive for other law schools to follow Kaplan’s lead.

After all, if we’re relying on the BSB to find a solution we might be waiting forever.


PS – Want to win a FREE place at BPP Law School? All you need to do is prepare a 1,500 word article on a pro bono theme for publication in Lawyer 2B (read more). Oh and don’t forget the Autumn 2009 issue of Lawyer 2B is out this week so make sure you go and pick up your free copy from either your law faculty or careers library.