Lift for trainee barristers as HSBC reinstates BPTC loan

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  • Dissapointing HSBC could not have announced this in time for the National Pupillage Fair which took place yesterday in Lincoln's Inn.

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  • A foolish decision.

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  • Undergrad debt is enough of a millstone around your neck. Additional postgrad debt is plain stupid.
    If you can't get funding for your postgrad course, whatever it is, do something else.

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  • Big Dave - considering the top barristers can earn sums in excess of £1million each year, I don't think taking on £30,000 worth of debt is 'plain stupid' at all. You have to invest in yourself and your future earnings potential. If you don't have the ambition to take that risk then you're not cut out for the job anyway.

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  • To the above.
    Yes it is plain stupid.
    The chances of earning that amount of money are so remote you may as well play the lottery.
    Taking on debt in the hope that you might get a lucky break is not investing in your future it is gambling.
    Pure and simple.
    I'm guessing you probably sell legal education.

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  • Anonymous- top barristers may earn lots of money and yes you do have to invest in yourself but considering there are over 4000 people going for less than 500 pupillages, there are going to be a lot of people not earning lots of money and stuck with high debts!

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  • The same applies to those wishing to become solicitors.
    Unless you are lucky enough to have funding as part of a training contract, you must take on a substantial amount of debt if you wish to become a solicitor. In the absence of Bank of Mum and Dad and/or trust fund assistance, you must take on considerable debt at University, take on considerable debt at the College of Law and then earn next to nothing for 2 years whilst undertaking your training contract, which for most, produces considerable debt.
    This is about the long game and a challenging and rewarding career, both intellectually and financially.
    Having said all of this, if I had to start by taking on £27k of debt just for University tuition fees, I would probably just become a plumber, which apparently pays very well.

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  • Sob Sob..
    Take a gap year, work as a paralegal or whatever and pay for the BPTC/LPC. The upside is that you get some practical legal experience that you can put on your CV too.
    If you are not willing to take risks then you should not even leave the house

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  • This is great news. Access to the bar needs to be increased, and this will go a long way to helping students who do have the talent but don't have the money.
    Big Dave - Why should students have to do something else instead of investing in themselves now to reap the rewards later? Taking on the debt is no more of a 'millstone round your neck' than our undergraduate debt is.
    Regarding the statistics about students who don't get pupillage but have the debt - that's their choice. But what about the students who have secured pupillage, but can't afford to pay the bar fees now? Finance should be no barrier to the profession, the same way it should be no barrier to university.
    Anonymous - taking a year out to pay for the BPTC working as a paralegal isn't as simple as it sounds. I worked as a paralegal last summer and only earned £5.80/hr. Taking out rent, food and other living costs, it's going to take me several years to save up £15,000 to cover my bar school fees. Moreover, I was one of the lucky ones who could actually find a paid paralegalling position - several of my friends are currently working unpaid for that practical legal experience to put on their CVs.

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  • Can anybody confirm if there is any logical reason (beyong greed) why the bar course costs considerably more than the, highly overpriced in most cases, LPC?

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  • I love the comment that trainee solicitors "make next to nothing". Who says the profession is out of touch?

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  • Jen,

    Are you being serious??

    It's a serious question.

    Taking on the debt is a milestone as it adds to the existing graduate debt. The overall debt increases materially so this is an issue.

    You question Big Dave with a rather silly question.The point is the majority are not investing in their futures because there aren't enough jobs.

    Only the minority will get a job hence the use of the word "investment" makes no sense.

    It's really a gamble not an investment. It's only an investment if you get a job!!!

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  • @Finbarr McGurk | 8-Mar-2011 7:49 pm

    It's a very valid comment for many trainees, for every one earning a City firm wage there's probably twice as many earning half that or nothing at all.

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  • If you intend to be a barrister aside from hvaing the kind of financial support that means you don't need a loan eg parents pay for it, you need a loan until recently there was only two places you could get such a loan Natwest who stopped doing their professional trainee loan scheme in January or HSBC who stopped doing their equivalent last November and as this article says are going to be bringing it back, this is a good thing because as I write this noone else offers a loan for this, all they offer are personal loans no good for the BPTC so regardless about the debate as to wether being a barrister or not is sensible this is a good thing because if you do want to do it HSBC are the only one's that are going to enable you to do so

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  • Thanks HSBC!
    As to the debate:
    It's absurd to suggest loans shouldn't be available for professional education; whether you end up working as a barrister or not the course provides valuable skills that enhance job prospects. Therefore it can't be said that the course isn't an investment, of course it will be more fruitful for some than others but that would be the case even if everyone was guaranteed pupillage and tenancy. Would you suggest that loans shouldn't be available for undergraduate education as the logic of your argument (in a market of too many graduates) implies?
    Also, if after doing a law degree/GDL and knowing all the relevant facts, people decide they are willing to take out a loan, you have no good reason to stop them.

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  • The comments on here which suggest 'take a year out and that'll pay for it' clearly have absolutely no idea how expensive the BPTC/ LPC year can be. I am lucky enough to have a training contract which will fully fund my LPC and provides a good grant aswell. I'm currently taking a year off and working in an admin job to save for the next year but by the time rent and living is considered, the savings are minimal. Even with time off to save, paid fees and a grant and a job during the LPC I will still struggle financially.
    I do feel those who do the LPC whilst pursuing a TC with a firm that would have paid their LPC for them are being a bit daft. But for those who wish to practice in an area of law which doesn't offer LPC sponsorship I have huge sympthy. At present a huge hole exists in the market. Hopeful (and somewhat reliant) on BPP/ CoL finding a bank to step into the space left by Natwest's withdrawl of their loan scheme.

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  • HSBC surely don't know anything about these types of loans as yet!

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  • The main point in almost everyone argument seems to be the big earnings of some barristers. What about the students who want to go into law to actually help the public and their future wage is hardly considered. Not everyone is in it for the money...without loans such as this many people have little to no hope of following their career paths!

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  • If you deny loans to those wishing to study the BPTC only the rich will get through. Would our legal system be fair if there were no diversity and the barristers only represented one class of people. How would that deliver justice? I have many friends including myself who have a good chance of securing pupillage. I'm not going to give up now just because I don't have the money to fund it my self. What is truly stupid is spending three years and thousands of pounds on a law degree with the aim to becoming a barrister and simply giving up! What a waste of money that would be! Why should I be stopped from having the career I want just because there are risks involved. If no one ever took risks no one would ever get anywhere!
    I agree that too many people take out the loan, people who have very little chance of securing pupillage but there are hundreds of barristers who funded their BPTC this way and have been hugely successful, how can you suggest that they should simply do something else? I'm glad they thought their future was worth the risk.
    Maybe the bank could ask for references from acaedimic staff about the likelyness of success. However this could still exclude students that truly have the potential but need a chance to prove themselves.

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  • @I Hapte BPP
    Part of the reason the BPTC is so expensive is the low student: teacher ratio. The Bar Standards Board demands that the majority of teaching (75%+) is in groups of 12 or fewer. Large lectures can be used for the remainder. For advocacy it has to be groups of 6 or fewer. There is also a long list of books and electronic subscriptions that must be provided.

    I was speaking to someone on the board of governors (or whatever it's called) of my BVC provider. He said that despite the fees, they lost money on the course. I'm not sure I believe that, but I would guess it's less of a money spinner than others this provider, which is also a university, offers.

    There are also fewer economies of scale than with the LPC, which tends to have a larger intake of students at each provider. (E.g. BPP London has around 2,000 LPC students but only 300 in the BPTC.)

    More generally, I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to save up to afford the BPTC (£15K fees + living expenses) over a couple of years. On the other hand, people have a lot of unrealistic expectations of pupillage. So I don't know what the answer is, but it's not to limit the bar to people with parents with deep pockets. I guess I'm in favour of a smaller BPTC intake with more selection to weed out those with no chance from wasting the money.

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  • I'm currently doing the LPC with CoL funded by the Natwest Professional Training Loan with a training contract lined up for when I finish with a niche litigation firm.

    I was shocked when I heard that natwest withdrew their loan as I just couldn't see how someone like me, who didn't want to practice in a large corporate firm who offer funding, could afford to do the LPC. For this reason I think the news of HSBC offering a similar product has to be welcomed.

    What I do wonder though, is why the LPC could not be incorporated as a 4th year of the LLB and therefore come under normal university funding?

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but there seems to be a lot of people profiting from the law student gravy train who have no interest in making the legal profession more readily accessible to people from all backgrounds.

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  • As much as I lament the death of availability of funds for the GDL/LPC, be sensible. It isn't a charity, no one has an obligation to fund your training and you don't have a "right" to be a lawyer. It's unfortunate that this crisis has dried up credit but...

    Why -was- there so much credit in the system to begin with? Blame the central banks and government.
    Why are there so many 2:i's and even 1's? Blame government social engineering.

    So really, people need to get a wake up call. If the profession is over-saturated with potential applicants, the proper course of action for said applicants - myself included - is to consider less oversubscribed areas of the market. And no, trainees don't earn "low" salaries. They earn a bloody fortune compared to most people. Such a horrid entitlement mentality...

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  • Also, Jen raises a good point. Lawyer's salaries are artificially high due to the regulatory entry barriers to become one (and the pseudo-laments against legal practitioners who don't go through all the SRA's hoops to become lawyers.) It isn't a "conspiracy". It is an open attempt to artificially inflate salaries. Doctors enjoy this kind of protection too, as do many professionals. They've been slick enough to wrap it under the pretence of maintaining "quality"... but why not let the consumer choose what level of quality they want?

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  • I called HSBC this morning, the advisor said they do not offer BPTC loans and that all that would be available is a personal loan to those that have had a salary being paid into a HSBC account in the last three months.

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  • 7.5% is hardly a life-line. You could get that rate anywhere on the high street.

    HSBC are clearly not the barrister's bank it once was.

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  • Clearly the comments made regarding those students who take on these types of loans as 'stupid' are not made by aspiring lawyers.
    How many recent graduates have £12,000 just sitting in the bank ready to dedicate to a qualifying year? How many have the means to work a full-time job along-side the BPTC? How many of us have well-off mummies and daddies willing to fork over such a huge sum?
    If a law student is serious about becoming a barrister, they will undertake any costs necessary, just as they will dedicate every working hour to gaining the experience needed to join a top set.
    A med student in the USA can have upto $125,000 worth of debt by the time they take up residency. Would you consider those students 'stupid' as well?
    It is a means to an end and whether that end makes you £35,000 a year or £1,000,000 a year, a would-be barrister of any speciality will do whatever it takes.

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