21 August 2019

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Sir Andrew Burns KCMG

Education. Education. Education.

A famous - or should that be infamous? - Sound bite to sum up what one's priorities are going to be, when seeking to stress the vital importance of education. Well, as I want to talk about education and training at the Bar in my blog post this month, it seems as good an opening line as any!

In fact, the education and training regime for future barristers is something of a major policy priority at the moment for all of us here at the BSB. The volume of articles about our current Future Bar Training programme in recent issues of this Regulatory Update is no coincidence.

Our recently closed consultation about the "Professional Statement" was just the beginning in our structured approach to reviewing, and where necessary, reforming, the currently very prescriptive way in which barristers are trained and become eligible to practise. (Just in case you haven't been following our work on the "Professional Statement", this is our way of defining what a newly authorised barrister should be able to do from day one, at the point of first being issued a full Practising Certificate.)

We've reached a crucial stage in the process of thinking about what a future-focused, more flexible, system of qualification might look like. You can read our thinking in our latest consultation paper. It considers the strengths and weaknesses in the current academic, vocational and pupillage stages of training. It also explains our role as a regulator in the training arena and seeks views on a range of possible approaches designed to try and resolve some of the current issues in the system.

I urge you all to a take a look at this and let us know what you think about some of the options which we outline. This subject is, after all, central to assuring the quality of the next generation of barristers. It's about attracting able candidates - no matter what their background - to the Bar. It's about making sure that the best characteristics are carried forward, in a profession that maintains the highest standing in the eyes of the public. Surely, that's worth a bit of reading over the summer?