Training models hold key to diversity

3 March 2015

Reducing the financial risk of training for the Bar is key to bringing greater diversity to the profession, according to the Bar Council which today responded to plans designed to overhaul barrister training and relax rules on colleges and Chambers.

Tuition fees alone for the BPTC cost upwards of £17,000, but less than a third of the 1,500 students who shell out actually find work at the Bar. The Bar Council said today that the Bar Standards Board's (BSB) vision paper, 'Future Bar Training', could help change this.

Commenting on BSB plans to make sure regulation does not add to training costs, Bar Council diversity chief, Sam Mercer said: "If you want to become a barrister, having the talent, ability and drive should be all that matter, not wealth or where you studied. Too many people from non-traditional backgrounds are understandably put off training for the Bar because the cost is prohibitive and the ratio of students to pupillages is so high."

To make sure standards keep pace with real-world change, the BSB plans to scale back regulations on how training is delivered, focusing instead on what barristers are able to do at the end of it and giving chambers and Pupillage Training Organisations a bigger role in training design and delivery.

Responding for the Bar Council, Training Policy Analyst, Alex Bloom said: "It is essential that chambers taking on pupils are fully supported and that the training regime is not only credible, but maintains our reputation for excellence.

"The BSB has rightly identified 'high standards', 'essential skills', and 'access to training' as its three guiding principles and we will be following the consultation process and discussions on this with a very keen interest."  

                                                                       

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Notes to Editors

Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  • The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board