Entry to bar set for overhaul in bid to encourage top talent

A review of the opportunities open to entrants to the bar could result in fewer students on the BVC course, more employed pupils and more funding for those who need it.

A working group led by Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Neuberger met for the first time last week (24 October) and has a year to produce its report.

Geoffrey Vos QC, vice-chair of the Bar Council and a member of the working group, said the group’s objectives were to make sure that background and funding did not stop talented would-be barristers from entering the profession.

“The first thing to realise is that it’s a fairly intractable problem,” Vos told The Lawyer, saying that several previous working parties have attempted to find a solution.

Vos added: “The reason why I hope this has more chance of success is that it has a more broad-based agenda and it will be looking at every aspect of the way people come to the bar.”

He admitted that the number of pupillages across the profession had shrunk since compulsory funding was introduced, but said he hoped numbers would begin to rise again.

Conversely, Vos added that numbers of BVC students could well drop as a result of the review. He added that he wanted to encourage more companies to take pupils on in-house.

The review group is also looking at ways to increase funding for BVC students without the means of paying for the course.