Mansfield QC: there should be no limit on BPTC places

Tooks Chambers’ Michael Mansfield QC, the barrister for the families of Stephen Lawrence, Jean Charles de Menezes and Dodi Al-Fayed, said that he does not believe in limiting bar professional training course (BPTC) places.

Speaking to Lawyer2B, Mansfield admitted that the issue was “a difficult one” but said: “ I think people have to decide themselves whether they think they are capable.”

Mansfield, who was admitted to the bar in 1967 and took silk in 1989, said he thinks that hopeful barristers need to take responsibility for their own chances of success.

He said: “If you restrict the numbers of people coming up through the pipeline the argument is that you don’t want to disappoint them, but on the other hand there’s a whole welter of people who, on that basis, don’t get anywhere near the door. So I’m not in favour.

“I think if they’re aware of the difficulties, you say to somebody: ‘It’s a pretty hopeless situation, on the other hand, if you feel you’re up for it I’m not going to discourage you from doing it, as long as you’re aware of the odds.’”

He added: “For anyone else to decide that there will only be two places and to decide who gets them is mildly arrogant.”

Mansfield is in favour of chambers taking on more pupils each year. He said: “They should have the opportunity to apply and while there will never be enough places, there should be a reasonable or substantial number of places rather than saying we can only support two people a year.”

Last week, Lawyer2B revealed that BPTC students face a significant hike in course fees (6 March 2013).