22 September 2019

Newly qualified barristers benefit from regular guidance by experienced practitioners but levels of support vary

We have published a research report about the effectiveness of our rules that require newly qualified barristers with less than three years' standing to have readily available access to an experienced practitioner - a Qualified Person (QP) - for support and guidance.

The research, which is accompanied by a summary, found that the levels of contact, support and advice available to newly qualified barristers vary considerably and that the arrangement was considered more valuable by those who had received more guidance from a QP. The findings also suggest that should a more prescribed approach be introduced by us, it could well deter current QPs from taking up an equivalent role in the future.

We conducted this research through an online survey and received views from both newly qualified barristers and barristers currently acting as a QP. The survey focused on the level and type of support received or provided as part of the arrangement, the frequency of contact between barristers and QPs, and views on the usefulness and proportionality of the arrangement.

The research found that:

  • face to face meetings are the most common form of contact between QPs and newly qualified barristers;
  • a majority of QPs (but a minority of new practitioners) stated they had regular meetings lasting over 30 minutes as part of their QP arrangement;
  • a large majority said that guidance on the law was the most common form of advice given as part of the QP arrangement;
  • a majority of QPs said that they provided advice on advocacy, but a majority of new practitioners said that they had not received advice in this area;
  • a minority of QPs and new practitioners said that advice on the new practitioner's performance formed part of the arrangement;
  • a majority of QPs felt that the requirement was helpful for new practitioners whilst the majority of new practitioners stated that the requirement was not helpful;
  • the majority of new practitioners who had received advice on their performance or had regular face to face meetings as part of their QP arrangement felt the QP requirement was helpful; in contrast, the majority of new practitioners who did not have regular meetings with their QP felt it was not helpful; and
  • most respondents said that the Alternative Qualified Person (AQP) requirement - when new practitioners do not have a suitable QP within their principal place of practice, the BSB can approve an arrangement for an AQP who has a different place of practice from the barrister - was both helpful and proportionate but nearly half of QPs said that the additional stipulations of an AQP agreement would deter them from acting as an AQP.