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The Bar Council is pushing for major changes to the entry requirements for the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) in a bid to make the application process fairer.
In a report published yesterday (16 June) the Bar Councils Training for the Bar Committee recommended that those applicants who do not attain an upper second class degree should only be offered a BVC place if they achieve a 2:1 in all of the core legal subjects. If they fail to meet this criterion they must sit and pass a voluntary aptitude test.
The committee claimed that an aptitude test is consistent with the main objectives underlying its report, which is to open up the barristers profession to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.
Tim Dutton QC, chairman of the Bar welcomed the recommendation. He said: This report forms part of the Bars wider work on recruitment and retention. Above all we want to ensure that we continue to attract talent into the profession in a fair and open minded way.
The committees recommendations follow on from its contribution to the Neuberger report, published in November 2007, which looked at wide-ranging measures to improve access to the Bar for less well-off students. In his 220-page report Lord Neuberger made 57 recommendations including the introduction of law to the national curriculum and a bar loan scheme.
Derek Wood QC, who is chairing the Bar Standards Boards (BSB) working group on the BVC, is expected to report back to the BSB next month (July).