Why the BSB’s Professional Statement matters for aspiring barristers

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The Bar Standards Board (BSB) recently said that its professional statement could be the key to unlocking the bar for many people who are currently unable to access the profession.

The professional statement will act as a reference point, defining what barristers must be able to do on their first day in practice, after completing their Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and pupillage.

You’d be forgiven for assuming the statement is yet another piece of jargon which will make no difference to the lives of working barristers and students. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong (maybe).

Here’s why.

By defining what skills a barrister needs on their first day of the job (split into ability to work with others, management of practice, personal values and standards and technical legal characteristics), the BSB is hoping to open up new ways of reaching that clearly defined standard.

Those new ways could encompass lots of things, from letting chambers control pupillages, to launching secondments for pupils, to reconfiguring the BPTC.

So far, the BSB has not exactly been forthcoming on precisely how that reconfiguration might work.

What we do know is that it has expressed an interest in e-learning and webinars as possible ways of imparting knowledge - and has hinted that the BPTC may be split into parts. “Indeed, the training need not be delivered in one, integrated course”, reads one report from February 2015.

There have been suggestions from the Inns of Court that the BPTC could be split into two parts, with one focusing on advocacy and the other on knowledge. The BSB is staying tight-lipped on that suggestion for now but will launch a consultation on the BPTC’s format in the summer.

The Professional Statement could form the backbone of a new bar. Whether it does depends on how much change the bar and BSB want to enact.

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