Bar Professional Training Course students 'not up to it'
Too many people on the Bar Professional Training Course are ‘wasting their money’ because they are ‘not up to it’, the chair of the bar’s regulator declared last week.
Lady Deech, chair of the Bar Standards Board, said the BSB would press ahead with its plans to introduce aptitude and English language tests for students before they can undertake the BPTC.
Deech said: ‘There are too many people on the course who shouldn’t be there. We need to give a signal to those who aren’t up to it that they’re wasting their money.’
Deech said language is a tool of the trade at the bar, and it is wrong to ‘let people loose on the public’ if they do not have sufficient English language skills.
She said: ‘If you’re tone deaf, don’t go to music school; if you have two left feet don’t go to ballet school.’
The BSB chair said her comments were aimed not only at ensuring the quality of the profession, but also reflected the need to tackle the mismatch between the number of graduates and the pupillages available.
BSB figures showed that last year around 1,400 students undertook the bar course, while only 478 pupillages were on offer.
Deech said she was concerned about the high number of students who had spent a lot of money on training and accrued large debts, yet failed to get a job in the profession.
‘If they don’t find a satisfactory career, we’ll be gaining an army of enemies,’ she said.
Following a review of the bar’s vocational training in 2008, Derek Wood QC recommended the introduction of a compulsory aptitude test and an English language test for all students whose first language was not English or Welsh.
BPTC providers are currently piloting the aptitude test, and an application has been made to the Legal Services Board to introduce the English test.
The Law Society is considering introducing an aptitude test for students seeking to study the Legal Practice Course.