The Bar Standards Board is seeking views on proposals to change training methods for prospective barristers, including plans to combine academic and vocational training and create a new exam.
In a consultation published on 29 September, the BSB proposed two new approaches to its training methods, as well as giving the option of sticking with the current system.
Currently, trainees undergo three stages of training: academic education, vocational training and work-based training.
But the BSB has proposed a ‘managed pathways’ approach where different routes, including combining the sections, would be permitted.
The BSB said this could include a ‘modular format’, where components of qualification can be acquired separately over time. It added that a pathway for apprenticeships may also be included under that option.
The creation of a new exam called the Bar Entrance Exam, which would cover knowledge and understanding of academic and vocational learning, has also been proposed – though this is not the BSB’s preferred option.
According to the BSB, the ‘managed pathways’ approach is its preferred choice, however, it stressed that ‘all options remain firmly on the table’.
‘The BSB believes that this [managed pathways] approach would give students more choice in how they study and gain the necessary experience to practise at the bar, the regulator said, adding that it would offer more ‘flexible and affordable modes of study.’
Further, the BSB added that it wanted to ‘pursue as much of a common agenda with other legal regulators, and the SRA in particular, as can be achieved.’
Ewen MacLeod (pictured), director of regulatory policy at the BSB, said: ‘Whichever option is implemented, it will have far reaching consequences for the future of the bar.
‘We want to ensure that the next generation of barristers are fully equipped to meet their future clients’ needs through a more flexible training framework.’
The consultation runs until 23 December with a final decision expected in spring 2017.
Meetings will also be held at universities around the country to help students learn more about the different approaches.