Bar school exams will be sat online this summer and students can start pupillage before passing the course, the regulator has announced.
Centralised examinations for the Bar Professional Training Course – which were due to take place in April – will be delivered via computer in mid-August. The Bar Standards Board said ‘robust security measures’ such as face-matching technology, ID verification and browser lockdown will ensure candidates are assessed to a high standard. The bar transfer test for qualified lawyers will also move online.
Exam results will be published in November, two months after some students are due to commence pupillage. However, ‘given the exceptional circumstances’, the BSB has waived the requirement that only those who are known to have passed the course may start the first stage of pupillage. However, students must have passed the course and have been called to the bar in order to start the practising period of their training, known as ‘second six’.
BSB director-general, Mark Neale, said: ‘Since the current health emergency began, we have been very conscious at the BSB of the need to support the career prospects of this year’s cohort of bar students and prospective pupils, while maintaining high standards. Students and transferring qualified lawyers have had to face considerable uncertainty, which we very much regret, and I am delighted that we can now deliver centralised assessments remotely in August with Pearson VUE’s state-of-the-art online proctoring system.’
‘Allowing students and transferring qualified lawyers to start the non-practising period of their pupillages in the autumn will also enable them to progress while maintaining the robustness of the assessment process.’
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has also relaxed rules around education, allowing Legal Practice Course assessments to move online and permitting trainees to defer compulsory modules for up to 12 months.