21 February 2019

Bar training components

Training to become a barrister comprises three components. These are:

  • academic learning (gaining knowledge of the Law itself);
  • vocational learning (acquiring barristers' core skills such as advocacy); and
  • pupillage or work-based learning (learning to be a barrister "on the job").

You can read more about the current requirements of each component in this section of our website: the  Academic Component, the  Vocational Component, and the  pupillage and work-based Learning Component.

Currently, to qualify as a barrister you must complete these components in the following specified sequential order:

  • the Academic Component (usually fulfilled by a Qualifying Law Degree or Graduate Diploma in Law);
  • the Vocational Component (usually fulfilled by a Bar Professional Training Course); and
  • the Work-based Learning Component (usually fulfilled by a pupillage).

You can read more about this sequence on our Becoming a Barrister webpage.

It is possible to combine the Academic and Vocational Components so that by the end of your studies, if successful, you will have completed both an undergraduate degree and a BPTC. At present only one provider delivers training in this way.

It is also possible to qualify as a barrister in England and Wales by transferring to the Bar from practice overseas and by transferring to the Bar as a solicitor in practice in England and Wales. There is more information about these processes on our transferring lawyers webpage.

 Future Bar Training (FBT) - What's changing?

Subject to Legal Services Board (LSB) approval, new training rules for the Bar will come into effect in early 2019. The new rules are designed to make training more flexible, more accessible and more affordable whilst at the same time sustaining the high standards expected of everyone who becomes a practising barrister.

A key aspect of the new rules will be that in future, the three components of education and training may be delivered through one of four approved training pathways. Under the new rules these could be:

  • A three-step pathway: Academic, followed by Vocational, followed by Pupillage/Work-based Component (same as the current pathway);

  • A four-step pathway: Academic Component, followed by Vocational Component in two parts, followed by Pupillage or Work-based Component;

  • Integrated academic and vocational pathway - combined Academic and Vocational Components followed by Pupillage or Work-based Component; and

  • Apprenticeship pathway: combined Academic, Vocational and Pupillage or Work-based Components.

As to which pathways will be available to students, this depends on what applications we receive from Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs). The new rules will permit us to authorise delivery of any one of these pathways. We have issued much more detail about the possible pathways in a draft Authorisation Framework. Any applications for authorisation to deliver a pathway under the Authorisation Framework must meet our criteria of accessibility, affordability, flexibility and sustaining high standards.

Potential AETOs may apply for authorisation from early 2019. Once they are authorised by us, AETOs are likely to need to go through further internal approval processes to set up their new pathways. We anticipate that the first new pathways are likely to be up and running from September 2020.

When new pathways start, we will update the top part of this webpage accordingly to make it clear that training via different pathways is available.

In addition to the introduction of new training pathways, more detailed changes are being made to each of three components of Bar training. You can read more about the changes within each component on our Academic Component webpage, our Vocational Component webpage and our pupillage and work-based Component webpage.

If you would like to read more about all the FBT changes in one place, please visit our Future Bar Training webpage.