Radical training reforms could see end of dining and diminish role of Inns

The Bar’s regulator published proposals to provide more ‘innovative and flexible’ pupillages and remove barriers to the profession.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has suggested scrapping the compulsory 12-months of pupillage, leaving the training length up to individual chambers. It also proposed raising the £12,000 minimum award, that must be paid to pupils over the course of their year-long pupillage. The current sum, it said, is below the national living wage, which prevents individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds entering the profession.

The Consultation on Future Bar Training would see a lesser role for the four Inns of Court, removing the need for students to sign up with one before they begin the Bar Professional Training Course, and passing the task of student registration on to the regulator (see: bit.ly/2wTjUSI).

The paper also moots removing the requirement to complete 12 ‘qualifying sessions’, which can include guest lecture events, advocacy workshops, dining sessions and debate nights.

The BSB paper said it ‘understandsthe historic and supportive role played by the Inns’ and ‘has no intention of changing what works well’, but said it wants to ‘deregulate’ these areas.

Its Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen Macleod, said the BSB wants to ensure the rules governing pupillage and qualification remain ‘fit for purpose over the long-term’, maintaining high-standards of entry, ensuring that a career at the bar is accessible to everyone with the potential. ‘There are a number of possible ways to achieve all of this, so we are keen to hear what people think about the issues,’ he said.

The consultation closes in January 2018 with any new rules coming into effect in 2019.

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