Common training rebuff

BAR Council chairman Peter Goldsmith QC has spoken out against common training for barristers and solicitors.

Addressing a conference on training he said there was only scope for a "small overlap" in training for the two branches of the legal profession.

He said if anything more than a relatively short common course was tried, skills training for barristers would be diluted as "the large group of solicitor trainees would, by virtue of its numerical supremacy, give the centre of gravity to the focus of the course".

Goldsmith's comments at the 'Prospects for common training' conference in Oxford appear at odds with the March consultation paper on ending the Bar School's training monopoly. The paper produced by a validation steering committee which Goldsmith co-chaired said the future of separate courses may be limited in the face of "increasing demand for common training".

But in his speech Goldsmith rejected as too expensive suggestions that potential barristers should take the same course as solicitors, followed by a separate Bar course.

He said: "A better way to proceed is on the validation route that we propose in our consultation paper. That will permit institutions who are also offering the legal practice course to suggest that they can meet parts of the Bar's objectives by a modular approach."