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Archive for June 7th, 2007

A serious issue about entry to the Bar…

I have been following the excellent coverage of the BVC and the difficulties of obtaining pupillage on Lawyer 2 B’s blog – well worth visiting if you are a prospective barrister for BVC coverage – and worth visiting anyway!

I came across this post from “Troubled barrister” on L2B’s comments section:

“I have one thing I want to get off my chest (I have many). A little while back I went with my Inn to give a talk about joining the Bar to a University. One student sensibly asked, “what BVC provider should I go to?” You could see on the panels face they didn’t want to give an answer and effectively did not. I piped up from the back suggesting the two providers which I thought were the best (one in London one out of London) and one provider I wouldn’t touch with a ten inch barge poll, there was an audible stir and gasps in the room. I would actually know a person going to this latter provider hadn’t been properly trained; it is so bad it would make a marginal difference to whether I would select a candidate for pupillage. What was the response? I was pulled aside by the head of education and training and told there is a deal between the Inns made a deal with the BVC providers not to recommend a provider and in return the providers would not recommend an Inn. This arrangement is wrong in so many ways, the inability of the Inns not to praise or gently criticise the BVC providers is the tail wagging the dog. I am a capitalist, I believe firmly in competition without restrictions, this seems innately counter to that. ”

Frankly it is time for the BVC providers to consider several issues: (a) Despite the BSB reluctance to restrict the number of BVC places – is it right to take on a student to the BVC who may struggle to get a pupillage ? (b) An agreed statement to be provided by all BVC providers giving clear and accurate information on the realities of obtaining a pupillage and tenancy at the Bar and (c) Transparency on results and BVC Provider rankings.

Universities are ranked (LPC providers and BVC providers are not.) One of the difficulties – little known – is that while Universities are subject to The Freedom of Information Act (and provide information – see Norman Baird’s excellent coverage of law student progression rates on university law degree courses on Consilio) – The College of Law and BPP Law School are not subject to the Act – and are not obliged to provide any information. This, in my view, is also wrong. They are providing tuition to prospective members of the legal profession and should be on the same footing as universities in relation to information requests. It is quite possible, of course, that both these providers would be quite willing to provide information if requested. I intend to ask them.

Maybe it is time to compile a list of BVC and LPC providers and bring together information from assessors, the regulatory board and the views of students who have studied there?

[The Solicitors Regulation Authority and The Bar Standards Board conduct asessment visits to all LPC Providers. The LPC assessments reports may be viewed here. I spoke to a member of The Bar Standards Board today and they will be publishing assessment reports for BVC providers on their website shortly. Consilio has a full list of LPC Provider reports as at 13 March 2007]

I agree with Troubled Barrister. While it may be difficult, given present states of knowledge about providers on the BVC, I can see no insurmountable reason for an Inn not providing a ‘view’ on each BVC provider. I accept that such a view will be based on anecdotal evidence – maybe the Inns should make it their business to find out more about the BVC providers and publish such anecdotal and empirical evidence as they have? Perhaps they should send out assessment forms to Inn members who are doing / have completed the BVC to build up information which can then be made available to prospective students?

Maybe all LPC and BVC students should be required by the regulators to complete a short assessment form – it is not beyond the ‘wit of man’ to design such an objective form and publish the results. Many law schools already ask their students to complete such ‘internal assessments’ – and these would be available under The Freedom of Information Act (But not so for providers not governed by the Act.) Mind you – they may seek to plead the ‘commercially sensitive information’ exemption arguing that negative comments about themselves may damage the popularity of their course!

By the way – I did not know, until I read Troubled Barrister’s comment (above), that a ‘deal’ had been made between The Inns and the BVC Providers’ – a bit shoddy this… in my humble opinion.

Please fire away on the comments section – should you wish to do so.

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So….what is going on today?

The proposed London Olympics 2012 logo is undergoing revision and a ‘mentally unstable german’ (Vatican assessment – but described as a ‘maniac’ by The Mirror ) had a go at hitching a ride with The Pope in his Popemobile.

Big Brother contestant Emily, has been chucked out of the house for using a racially offensive word – Channel 4 acting quickly to avoid yet more problems with race issues on TV.

“A POLICE officer who led campaigns against drinkdriving has been charged with the same offence” Mirror

Sun readers are able to froth at the mouth (should they wish to do so) about rumours that Paris Hilton is about to be released after serving three days of a 23 day sentence.

The England football team managed to crush Estonia 3-0 last night….. I was able to sleep for the first time in days at this news – and Michael Vaughan, England cricket captain, was not misquoted in the press about his “Fredalo” comments – according to The Guardian who have posted the recorded interview with Vaughan on their website.

Well…there we are. Brought you up to date … and now I am going to get back to work and listen (as I work) to The Test Match: England v West Indies

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