Second stab for Bar exam process

THE selection procedure for Bar School is to be turned on its head following the controversy surrounding this year's entry process.

Under the new system the degree result “will carry more weight than any other element” and the selection criteria will include an oral test.

This year, degree results were disregarded completely and presentational skills were gauged through an application form. But scores of disgruntled students complained and the Council of Legal Education (CLE) was forced to make an extra 250 places available.

The CLE avoided the bulk of the students' legal action with door-of-the-court concessions, but was successful with the remaining judicial review cases.

CLE secretary John Taylor says the central selection board consulted widely before coming up with a more acceptable format. The changes, which are still under discussion, are likely to be approved next month.

The CLE anticipates more applicants with firsts and upper second degrees than it will have places available. Only “exceptional applicants” with 2.2s are likely to be considered.

The multiple choice critical reasoning test is to be scrapped and replaced with a more academic written paper focusing on precis skills, drafting and written advice.

Candidates must provide two references after complaints that information provided by students on the application forms was not verified .

Taylor says that selecting students from so many able applicants will always be a “painful process”.

Chris Ryan, acting head of the law faculty at City University, welcomes the new selection system.

“It is obviously a better arrangement than last year but anything would have been better than that mess.”