By the time you get to the BPTC application process – the vocational training stage in order to become a barrister – you’ll know the drill: meet the eligibility criteria and beguile on paper to prove you’ve got what it takes.
No BPTC place is set in stone. Unfortunately, completion of your LLB or GDL does not bestow you with a divine right to progress to the next stage.
To give you an idea, the number of applicants per year for the past few years has been around 3,000. The number of these applicants who were accepted and enrolled onto the BPTC was between 1,400—1,700 depending on the year. So it's a tough process!
So, how do you become one of the lucky people who gets accepted and enrolled? First things first: make sure your application is on point.
BPTC: what degree do I need?
Applicants for the BPTC will need to have a law degree which automatically qualifies them for the course (an LLB), or an Honours degree and successful completion of the conversion course (GDL). This condition is down to the necessity for all BPTC students to have studied the core principles of law, or, the “foundations of legal knowledge”. These golden foundation topics are:
- Property Law
- Equity and Trusts
- European Union Law
- Public Law (including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights)
- Criminal Law
- Obligations (including Contract, Restitution and Tort)
The Bar Standards Board, regulator of barristers in England and Wales, states you need to have a minimum of a 2:2 in your Honours degree in order to be eligible to become a barrister. However, with so many people applying with exceptionally strong academic records, a 2:2 is quite likely to be ousted in the selection process at quite an early stage. A minimum of a 2:1 is probably more realistic in order to stand a chance of competing. If you can combine this with a top set of GCSE and A Level results, you’ll be in the best position to get through the academic stage of the process.
Budding barristers will also need to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) before beginning a BPTC course. You can find more information on the BCAT and what it entails here.
The online application process for the BPTC will strike you as a familiar beast. BPTC Online uses a central application system called the Bar Student Application Service (BarSAS)—similar to UCAS for university applications. This is the only way you’ll be able to apply—applications made directly to providers won’t be accepted.
A BPTC application costs £65. You’ll have to select and rank your top providers ahead of the first deadline. The process then follows a first round and clearing period drill: During the first round, the providers will assess applications and make their offers. Those who are unsuccessful will move into the clearing round for the second chance of an offer. If you receive an offer, you will be given a deadline by which you must have accepted.
After the application
If you and accept an offer, you must also make arrangements to join one of the Inns of Court by 31 May of the year in which you will begin your course, as all trainee barristers must be a member of on before they begin their BPTC. With that done, you’ll be set to begin your training!
You can check out the Bar Standards Board website for more information and to apply.