BSB aptitude test in doubt after OFT dig

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  • I don't agree with the OFT at all - how can filtering out people who have no realistic chance of ever securing a pupillage be anti-competitive. I think it's a really good idea.

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  • Perfectly sensible idea to have an aptitude test. As long as it is used to weed out unsuitable candidates and is not used to impose an artifcial cap on the number of new entrants.
    More important is a fundamental re-think of the whole bar school idea. The courses are shockingly expensive (up to £15k) and operate as a real barrier to those of modest means and/or those who already have large student loans. And unfortunately they are pretty rubbish too, providing only a very limited preparation for pupillage and life at the Bar. Much more sensible would be a New York Bar exam approach, where there is a single exam set by the BSB. It would then be open to candidates to study for the exams independently, or on a full time or part time course. For those studying independently there could be some compulsory advocacy modules (which could, say, be provided by the Inns). It would allow people to study at theit own pace and significantly reduce the cost of getting to the Bar.

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  • The Northern Ireland Institute of Professional Legal Studies has ran an entrance test for over thirty years without any official moves to end it.

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  • What's wrong with having the cut off at the employment stage? Would you rather take a test and be told you're not good enough, or go through the job application process and have the employer tell you?
    The LSAT in the US and Canada acts as a cap and arguably doesn't pick the best candidates. So other than cutting down the number of BVC students how does this improve things?

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  • Perfectly good idea to have an aptitude test. There are many hurdles to becoming a barrister, and this is not likely to be the most significant.

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  • Perfectly sensible to have a "weeding out" process. If you take the OFT's analysis to its logical conclusion everyone would automatically be entitled to enter any course whatsoever no matter that they had no chance of ever succeeding. This in turn may mean that some really good potential candidates don't make it on to the course. Sometimes the slavish application of competition policy does not achieve the right result.
    Sebastian Farr (competition lawyer of 28 years practice).

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  • An apptitude test is an easy way for the bar to cut out people who do not fit the mould. They will simlpy choose upper crust and minorities. Typical middle class of British stock can forget it.

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  • Is this test another way to further restrict access to the profession by groups such as women and ethnic minorities?

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  • The key attribute to ensure a pass in legal and medical professional examinations is a photographic memory. Have you ever met a GP or a Consultant in the medical profession who seemed a bit dim - can they all be pretending? Will an aptitude test weed out dim people with a photographic memory?

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  • If an aptitude test weeds out some of the cretins who get pupillage simply because of an Oxbridge degree, then I am all for it.

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  • This sounds like a good idea - it's saving people from themselves before they waste tens of thousands of pounds on a hopeless attempt to enter the profession. More needs to be done to even out the ratio of bar qualifiers to pupillages - at the moment the colleges and universities are running a scam by happily taking on people for the funds when they are well aware that a sizeable proportion will never get anywhere (entry minimum of a 2:2 is a joke - it should be at least a 2:1).
    Perhaps a system where bvc entry can only be obtained if a pupillage has been offered might be an improvement (I've heard the Northern Irish system works something like this).

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  • One of the simplest and easiest ways to cut back the numbers of dreamers and no-hopers is to resurrect the idea of deferred call to the Bar. People might not be so keen to fork out £14K if they faced the prospect of coming out with only half a qualification and no professional title at the end of the course. At the moment, I think too many applicants say to themselves "Oh, well, even if I don't get pupillage, I'll still be able to put 'Barrister' on my CV and business card, and that (a) looks pretty cool, and (b) will help me get a decent job elsewhere."
    It seems the OFT consider, in pursuance of their rigid 'free-market' dogma, that it is acceptable for a profession to continue to train 5 or 6 times as many aspirants as there are places available to them. Que? Surely any fool can see that there ought to be some sort of pre-filtering process to, it would be hoped, hand out a few reality checks BEFORE the starry-eyed wannabe barrister (a) signs on the dotted line and (b) ends up going forth into society entitled as 'barrister' after only barely scraping through the BVC, and thereby devaluing the coinage or (c) trying in vain to gain pupillage and winding up with a huge chip on their shoulder.
    And here's another thought. Has anybody at the OFT worked out why their mantra of "increased competition = lower prices" doesn't seem to apply to the BVC, where fees have gone up yet again?

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  • I totally agree with Anonymous @ 4.01pm.

    I know of one person, who did not finish the BVC, never did pupillage, and of course was never Called, who calls herself "Barrister non practicing".....

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  • One different way of looking at this is to ask why the BSB or the Law Society for that matter, really consider it their duty to restrict the number of barristers or solicitors who qualify into the profession? This does not happen in most other countries, or indeed professions, - look at the US etc. Other jurisdictions allow people to qualify with in some cases just an LLB. People may qualify, but whether they get offered jobs is a totally different matter. There will always be more candidates applying than jobs, that's the nature of the economy. The lesser abled could always fill vacancies in less well paid positions. Under the current system, (and especially so in the last 15 years), one might argue that candidates jump through all the hoops, spend all the money and don't actually get to finish...I do not believe the current proposals are really about attempting to save candidates fees. It is this professional obsession with the supposed falling of standards, when in reality the opposite has happened and entry is harder than ever before. Perhaps we should concentrate more upon post qualification standards?

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  • The OFT's any-Bar bias becomes more blatantly and embarrassingly obvious by the day. I don't know why it doesn't just rename itself as an outpost of the Law Society; its prejudice is so overt.

    In addition to which this is not a trading matter but one of education and is therefore none of the OFT's business, which the BSB should tell it in direct and unmistakable language as publicly as possible. The DfE has a legitimate interest the OFT has none whatsoever.

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