Barristers urge Bar to ease rules on training

Cyril Dixon reports

BARRISTERS working in local government are calling for the introduction of solicitor-pupil masters in order to combat the shortage of openings for pupils in the public sector.

The Bar Association for Local Government and the Public Service claims pupils are being turned away because there are so few barristers practising in local government.

Chair Paul Stivadoros wants a new arrangement under which senior local government solicitors can take pupils. Stivadoros, speaking after the association's annual meeting on 28 September, said he will press the Bar Council to ease the rules.

Inns of Court regulations prevent new entrants spending their six "employed" months entirely under the guidance of a solicitor.

But Stivadoros, assistant director/law at Milton Keynes Borough Council and a member of the Bar's General Council, believes the rule should be relaxed.

He said: "Solicitors in local government do exactly the same as barristers in local government, so pupils will receive an equally good training."

Stivadoros added: "At the moment it is extremely difficult to find places. I get a lot of people showing interest and I have to tell them what the problem is."

A Bar Council spokesman said pupils aiming for in-house positions were allowed to spend three months with an employed solicitor if they had the permission of their Inn of Court.

However, the rule remains that entrants must spend most of their time with a barrister because of what authorities claim are differences in the nature of the two jobs.

The association voted at the AGM to keep the same chair, vice-chair Jonathan Teasdale, who is chief executive of Hove Council, and secretary Robert Posner, principal solicitor at the London Borough of Bexley.

Three new officials are treasurer Mirza Ahmed, head of legal services at Bolton, auditor Julie James, assistant county secretary (legal services) at West Glamorgan County Council, and public relations officer Marina Lipscomb, a Milton Keynes assistant.

Anyone who wants further details of the association or an application form can contact Paul Stivadoros c/o Milton Keynes Borough Council, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3HG. Telephone 01908 682205.