The Bar Standards Board (BSB) last night agreed a revised set of rules to govern the process by which prospective barristers will train and qualify in England and Wales. Subject to Legal Services Board (LSB) approval, the new rules will come into force in early 2019.
The rules are designed to ensure that training to become a barrister is more accessible, affordable and flexible and that it maintains the high standards of entry expected at the Bar. The BSB has consulted extensively on various aspects of the rules over the past few years as part of its comprehensive Future Bar Training (FBT) programme. Its most recent consultation ran between July and September 2018 and sought views on the drafting of the new training rules. The BSB considered the responses it received to this consultation at its meeting last night, before agreeing a final set of rules to submit to the LSB for approval.
Information for students about the rule changes is available on the BSB website. This includes details of the transitional arrangements that will be put in place to ensure that neither current students who are already part way through their route to qualification as a barrister nor those who have already qualified are in any way disadvantaged.
In agreeing the new Bar training rules, the Board clarified one final FBT policy decision last night. This follows discussion with the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) about the current rule under which the Inns are required to accredit all barristers becoming pupil supervisors. The new rules require the BSB to authorise all organisations providing pupillage. The authorisation process will require all such organisations – known as Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs) – to provide assurance to the BSB as to the suitability and competence of pupil supervisors, which will include compulsory training for pupil supervisors. As the Board has previously decided that pupil supervisor training need not be provided exclusively by the Inns, it was considered unnecessary to mandate accreditation of pupil supervisors by the Inns. However, the Inns may continue to provide pupil supervisor training and may offer additional quality assurance to Chambers in order to assist them to meet their duties to the BSB as AETOs.
Speaking about the new Bar training rules, BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen Macleod, said:
“Having finalised the new Bar training rules, subject to Legal Services Board approval, is a significant moment in our Future Bar Training programme. We are confident that the new arrangements for training and qualification to become a barrister deliver on our aims to make the system more accessible, affordable and flexible whilst at the same time sustaining high standards. We look forward to working with the profession and education and training providers to implement these new arrangements. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our work in this area by sharing their views on these important matters over the past few years.”