19 August 2019

Future ways to qualify as a barrister

In March 2017, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) decided that it will authorise a limited number of future training routes for prospective students to qualify as barristers. The future system for training for the Bar will retain the three elements of training that have proved successful in the past: academic, vocational and work-based learning.

However, changes are planned, especially to the vocational stage. This section of our website summarises these changes (which were announced in March 2017) and provides a helpful overview of what each of the three stages might look like in the future.  

The aim of the new approach, once the changes have been made, is to encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession both now and in future. New barristers need to be able to meet the needs of consumers in a fast-changing market for legal services and to promote access to justice and compliance with the rule of law.

Importantly, they need to demonstrate that they can meet the requirements set out in the  Professional Statement which describes the knowledge, skills and attributes that all barristers should have on 'day one' of practice.

At the same time, the new approach is designed to provide students embarking on a career at the Bar with greater

  • flexibility;
  • accessibility;
  • affordability;
  • while maintaining the high standards expected of barristers.

For more information on how the training reforms may affect each stage of training, please follow the links below:

Academic Learning

Vocational Training

Work-based learning (pupillage)

Next steps

For the immediate future, the current BPTC will remain. We will continue to work constructively and closely with all those with an interest in our work to roll out a new Authorisation Framework in order to assess proposals for new training routes and so that any new route may be authorised from autumn 2018 onwards.

We provided more detail about the criteria in our Authorisation Framework in May 2018. For more information about the next steps, please read our  March 2017 FBT Policy Statement and our May 2018 Policy Statement.

Not sure if you want to be a barrister or a solicitor?

Our new approach will not drive students to make inappropriately early decisions on whether to become either a barrister or solicitor. Training to become a solicitor will be different from future models to train as a barrister, but compatible with it.

We will continue to work with the Solicitors Regulation Authority to develop a set of principles for recognising legal professional qualifications, including across jurisdictions.

Please see our ' Using a barrister' guidance to learn more about the differences between a barrister and a solicitor.

How we reached our decision on the future of Bar training

We conducted extensive research and public consultation to examine the way in which students currently train for the Bar, and to consider what reforms to the system should be made. In our 2016 consultation we received over 1,000 responses. All of the evidence gathered through research and consultation was used to inform our policy proposals which were taken to our Board to make a decision. Please see our March 2017 FBT Policy Statement for a summary of the responses we received to our 2016 consultation.

Don't know who our board members are? See ' Our governance' for more information.