In the latest assault on the regulatory machinery set up by the Legal Services Act, the bar’s regulator today proposed taking a more hands-off approach to the design of pupillages.
Instead, chambers and employers should be put back in charge of designing the pupillage experience for aspiring barristers, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) said.
Under the current system the BSB must approve any pupillages that deviate from the standard format.
In a pamphlet published today the regulator says that chambers and employers are best placed to decide how to plan and provide pupillages, and that the BSB should focus instead on ensuring that barristers have the right knowledge and skills at the end of the educational process.
The BSB said it is keen to shift responsibility for the way in which pupillages should be structured away from the regulator and back to pupillage training organisations, which have a better understanding of what works and what does not. The BSB is also eager to explore how pupils – most of whom are self-employed – can be protected in the same way as employees or other trainees.
The proposals are due to be consulted on this summer.
Dr Simon Thornton Wood, director of education and training for the BSB, said: ‘At a time of great change across the profession who better to design and deliver the pupillage experience to aspiring barristers than professionals themselves?
‘Of course, we must safeguard standards, but we’re not convinced that means we can’t introduce more freedom and flexibility into the system so that it continues to provide vital preparation for practice. And if this greater flexibility means that there can be more pupillages on offer, that is also a good move.'