Do BPTC grades matter?
If you’re a prospective barrister, you’ll probably be aware that you need to complete vocational training as part of the qualification process. In this article, you’ll find out about what the new bar courses entail, and how they are assessed.
What is the new route to becoming a barrister?
In order to make the route to becoming a barrister more accessible and affordable, the requirement to complete the BPTC was dropped by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). The new course is known by numerous different names (Bar Training Course vs Bar Practice Course vs Bar Course,) but all the courses have the same components.
It is four months shorter than the BPTC, costs about £5,000 less, and is divided into two parts, meaning students can have time off between courses.
As a result of these changes, there are now three routes to qualification instead of just one. These routes are:
- Integrated academic and vocational pathway: academic and vocational component completed simultaneously, followed by pupillage or work based component
- Three-step pathway: academic component, followed by vocational, followed by pupillage or work based component
- Four-step pathway: academic component, followed by vocational completed in two parts, followed by pupillage or work based component.
There is also the option to gain an LLM and a Bar course simultaneously, and there are discussions about introducing barrister apprenticeships.
What do the new bar courses consist of?
Even though the names of the new bar courses differ between institutions, the content taught is the same. The courses provide students with the chance to experience what life is like as a barrister, by getting involved in realistic legal scenarios.
The first part of the course provides students with in-depth knowledge of criminal and civil litigation, with the basics of ethics and advocacy taught throughout. The second part gives students the opportunity to develop their written skills–drafting and opinion writing– within their choice of practice area.
There’s also the chance to attend workshops aimed at developing your oral skills: conferencing, examination-in-chief and cross-examination.
The new bar courses have also been restructured to make them more effective. There is now a greater emphasis on face to face teaching, a more flexible assessment system and cutting-edge educational technology to ensure faster feedback.
How are the new bar courses assessed?
Your educational institution will provide you with written exams and practical exercises. In addition to this, the Bar Standards Board requires students to complete centralised exams before they can apply for pupillage. The subjects centrally examined are civil and criminal litigation.
The amount that your bar course grades matter depends on the chambers individual requirements. Some chambers may prefer you to have received overall grades above a certain level, and super competitive chambers may even automatically reject students whose grades are below a certain level. Some institutions even provide monetary incentives for those who score the highest in a subject, so it’s in your best interests to study hard.