Calls for ‘affordable’ reforms to Barristers’ education

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has called for an education and training shake-up for prospective Barristers, which it believes will be more “flexible and affordable” for budding members of the Bar.

On 29 September, the BSB opened a public consultation into the matter, to seek views on its proposals to change training methods. The BSB’s proposals can be narrowed down into two potential education systems or ‘options’:

1)    The ‘managed pathways’ option

The key characteristic of the ‘managed pathways’ option will be a series of different approaches or ‘routes’ that aspiring Barristers will be able to take on their journey towards a career with the Bar.

This option will maintain the current training sages of academic education, vocational training and work-based training, but students will be free to combine components of their qualification to suit them – or to complete each component separately over an extended period of time. The BSB has said that a pathway for apprenticeships could also come to fruition.

2)    The ‘Bar Entrance Exam (BEE)’ option

This option would see a new exam introduced to the profession, which would be broken down into aspects of academic and vocational learning. The BSB has said that this is not their preferred option, but that “all options remain firmly on the table” for the time being.

Ewen MacLeod, director of regulatory policy at the BSB, said: “Whichever option is implemented, it will have far reaching consequences for the future of the bar”.

The BSB added that their preferred ‘managed pathways’ option would offer greater “flexibility and affordability” for students.   

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