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Important changes to Law professional qualifications: information for barristers

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Published: 23 October 2019

Important changes to Law professional qualifications

The qualification route for students looking to become a barrister in England and Wales is changing. In 2017, The Bar Standards Board (BSB) announced it would be authorising a limited number of future training routes to students wishing to qualify as a barrister. The transitional arrangements start in 2019.

What does this mean for me?

Our LLB Law course will continue to provide skills and knowledge required for your entry into the legal professions. While we are currently making modifications to the LLB Law curriculum as a result of the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), this will in no way affect the value and academic rigour of our Law degree for qualification as a barrister.

What are the changes to the professional qualification?

Currently, there are three stages to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales:

  • The academic stage (the qualifying law degree)
  • The vocational stage (the Bar Practice Training Course (BPTC))
  • The professional stage (pupillage)

Under the changes, the BSB will still require:

  • A law degree or for non-law graduates a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
  • To pass the BPTC 
  • To have completed workplace training, pupillage (for which the BCAT is also still required)

However, how this can be attained has changed to four approved training pathways:

  • The traditional three-tier approach
  • A four-step pathway which allows for the BPTC to be split into two stages
  • An integrated law degree with BPTC, followed by a pupillage or work-based component
  • An apprenticeship pathway, which combines all three elements of qualification

In reality for the Bar, the impact of the changes only affects the post-degree progression routes.

Will there be a transitional period?

Yes. The BSB has confirmed a period of transition from the old to the new system for postgraduate training where there will be greater centralisation of assessment practices, as well as an extension of some areas of assessment content such as Civil Litigation.

I want to become a Barrister. Will this affect me?

Studying LLB Law at Sunderland will continue to be recognised as meeting the rigorous academic standards required for students wishing to pursue a career as a barrister in England and Wales. For more information, visit the Bar Council website.