Course content will be reviewed in light of a proposed rule change to widen the public access scheme to legal aid clients, and to allow barristers of less than three years’ standing to do public access work. An application to the Legal Services Board to incorporate these changes into the Code of Conduct was due to be made in February.
Under the changes, public access barristers with less than three years’ practising experience will now need to keep a log of cases – a move designed to assist learning and help the BSB monitor risks to the public. Formal assessment will also be introduced. Barristers who have already taken the training will either have to take a top-up course or apply for a waiver within 24 months of the new training being made available.
BSB figures show 5,429 barristers have undertaken the course and 4,595 are registered as public access barristers. A survey of those who had received the training revealed they wanted more information on how to identify when it would be in the interests of more vulnerable clients to instruct via a solicitor.
Meanwhile, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has announced a research project to explore the experiences of consumers in the legal services sector who have learning disabilities.