Moving the Bar: New Bar Course on the Horizon

June 3, 2019


New Bar Exam

2 min read

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What's going on here?

A new two-part Bar course by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) is awaiting approval by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to shake-up Bar vocational training.

What does this mean?

The Inns of Court (the professional associations which hold the right to call barristers to the Bar) established the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) in 2016. After a long wait, the ICCA has now launched its two-part Bar course which is supposedly more flexible and less risky than the traditional BPTC.

Part 1: This is delivered online and will involve knowledge testing, multimedia resources and case studies to test wannabe barristers.

Part 2: This part will be delivered at one of the four Inns of Court in London. It will focus more specifically on key advocacy skills expected of a barrister.

What's the big picture effect?

The Inns of Court have been desperate to provide meaningful changes to the route to qualification for prospective barristers. Big providers such as BPP, the University of Law, and City Law School have charged exorbitant fees at just under £20,000 for those studying in London and around £15,000 for those outside the capital. The Sutton Trust claims that the high cost is a significant hurdle for those wishing to practice at the Bar. So, the Inns are attempting to alleviate this barrier, with the new Bar course aiming to be 30% cheaper.

However, more importantly, the new Bar course is supposedly less risky when compared to the traditional BPTC. The Bar is notoriously competitive, with around 3,000 applicants for around 400 pupillage vacancies each year. The two-part course will allow students to opt-out after the first part if they decide that the profession is not for them, meaning that they have only lost £1,000 as opposed to the £19,000 for students at BPP studying the traditional route.

BSB has faced opposition in the past to any radical changes to vocational training. Therefore, only time will tell if the new shake-up is approved and what effect it will have on the for-profit providers.

Report written by Sam C

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