INNS OF COURT TO DELIVER THE BAR COURSE AT 30% REDUCTION IN PRICE (BUT ONLY IN LONDON…)

Ever since I found out that prospective pupils are told by some chambers to read this blog in advance of pupillage interviews I have felt a duty to look after these involuntary readers when I can.  I have been sent a press release  with an interesting development in legal training and I set it out below.

GOOD NEWS FOR LONDONERS (OR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD TO LIVE IN, OR TRAVEL TO, LONDON)

This course will be priced at 30% less than comparable courses in London. It will be run on a not for profit basis.  This is good news. However, for the majority of the population who live outside the M25, this will make little difference.   The reduction in price of the course will not compensate for the increased costs of living in or travelling to London.   The prices examined by Legal Cheek for 2017/2018 here.

*2019/20 London BPTC fees (including the BSB fee) are: University of Law £18,735, City University £18,500, BPP University £19,070. The average of these fees is £18,768. 30% off this figure is £13,137.

GUIDE TO FUNDING

The major purpose of this post was to provide useful links on how to obtain bursaries, scholarships and loans to fund the course in any event.   The most succinct guide  I have found so far goes back to 2012 with Catherine Baski’s  “So I want to be a barrister … how do I pay for it?”

I will look into this subject more and put further links up in due course.

A SOLUTION

One alternative I always mention to law students is that you can qualify as a solicitor first and transfer to the Bar afterwards.   This may be a sensible option for many.

THE PRESS RELEASE

“LONDON, 10 MAY 2019 – The ICCA is delighted to announce that it has applied to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to be authorised to deliver a new Bar Course that will replace the  Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The new course sets out to lower the cost of training and has been designed to reduce risk dramatically and increase flexibility for students through its innovative two-part delivery. The ICCA Bar Course has been developed by education experts and legal practitioners to deliver new, high-quality vocational content that will give students the best possible preparation for a career at the Bar.
If approved, the course will be delivered in two parts from Autumn 2020. Part one will be knowledge-based and delivered online using cutting-edge digital tools. This part of the course will incorporate multimedia resources such as films, podcasts and quizzes to allow students to engage with the course material interactively. It will also include a number of bespoke case studies, which will help to apply more abstract knowledge required within the curriculum to real-life scenarios.
Part one has a guide time of between 12-16 weeks to complete and there will be an opportunity for students to exit the course after this point with no further financial commitment if they decide not to continue. The new course structure is flexible to enable students longer to complete part one should work, caring or other commitments require this, and they will be able to study this part of the course at any time of day and from any location.
Part two of the course will run for 20 weeks, with intake scheduled twice yearly, and will be undertaken in person within the precincts of the Inns of Court. Part two will be dedicated to skills teaching, preparing students for potential future pupillages and a career at the Bar. There will be practical advocacy courses including essential specialist sessions on vulnerable witness advocacy, youth justice proceedings and expert witness handling.
The ICCA will charge £12,225 overall which will be split between £1,000 for part one and £11,225 for part two.  These fees include all teaching materials, required practitioner texts and assessment fees. Students will also need to cover the cost of the BSB’s  ‘intake fee’ which has been set at £575 for part one and £295 for part two.  The overall cost will therefore be £13,095.
Derek Wood QC, Chair of the ICCA Governors said: “We are delighted to be announcing this new Bar Course, which will provide students with greater flexibility, high standards of teaching and less financial commitment upfront.  The course will be offered on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis and will cost around thirty percent less* than London BPTCs presently on offer.”
Lynda Gibbs, Director of Programmes for the ICCA, said “The quality of oral and written advocacy is a cornerstone of our profession. Training barristers to develop first-class skills in advocacy and advisory services is a hugely important process and we are very excited to be providing this innovative course which will equip students to best meet the demands of the profession today.”
Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar, remarked, “As the Approved Regulator, the Bar Council welcomes greater competition in the market. The proposed ICCA course also seeks to drive down the cost to students of qualifying for the Bar and this is also something that the Bar Council encourages.””