Written by: Jasmeen Sharma & Calvin Tan
Striving for a successful career in law as an international student is no easy feat due to the competitive nature of the field making it difficult to stand out. Decisions involved in choosing a career between the UK and Malaysia and between pursuing the LPC or the Bar can be daunting for many. It is crucial to be certain which career is best suited to you. Being aware of the different service providers and what they can offer is the next step to help you choose the bar course best suited to you bringing you closer to your ultimate Barrister Dream!
The Bar Standards Board (BSB): Many of you may be familiar with the term BPTC; however this term was replaced two months ago after a comprehensive review of the course by the Bar Standards Board. The main aim was to make Bar Training more affordable and selective in order to produce highly qualified potential Barristers who were almost certain to secure pupillages.
Four pathways have been approved; The Three Step Pathway (academic followed by vocational followed by pupillage or work-based component), The Four Step Pathway (academic followed by vocational component in two parts followed by pupillage or work-based component), Integrated Academic and Vocational Pathway (combined academic and vocational components followed by pupillage or work-based component) or Apprenticeship Pathway (combined academic, vocational and pupillage or work-based components). The aim is to provide an affordable pathway with more work-based learning.
Thus, service providers for the Bar Training course have been given the leeway to choose between one or more of these approved pathways. This enables them to tailor their course structures to what they believe would suit their students best.
INNS OF COURT COLLEGE OF ADVOCACY (ICCA)
The ICCA has renamed their bar training to the Bar Course which would be done in two cycles;
1) Basic requirement for law degree: 2:1 +BCAT
2) Basic requirements for non-law degrees: 2:2 + a commendation or distinction in the GDL.
The Inns' selection process will be carried out through the Application portal where assessed questions would be asked. Shortlisted candidates would be required to attend a selection event consisting of activities: an introduction to the event by the dean, an interview, a piece of written work, and an advocacy exercise. If proven successful an offer would be given.
Part One will be a flexible online course which can either be done as a guided pathway online course for 12-16 weeks or even up to a year if you have part time work. For Part One, students are allowed not more than two sittings. Part Two would be the vocational course. Part Two consists of seven teaching modules covering the skills needed for the Bar.
The fee would be divided as follows;
1) Part One: £1,575 (Fees of £1,000 + BSB intake fees of £575)
2) Part Two is £11,520 (Fees of £11,225 + BSB intake fees of £295)
Total combined cost = £13,095 (inclusive of all required textbooks)
BPP has renamed their initial BPTC course to the Bar Training Course where you can study the Part One course on its own with a break before commencing to the Part Two. This allows leeway for students to gain work experience or readjust their personal finances before continuing the pursuit of their dream career. The course will commence in September 2020 and applications open in November 2019 where students will be allowed to either partake in the full time program of 8.5 months or the part-time one for 23 months (only available in London) where classes will be conducted through the standard face to face process with supporting online materials. All applications should be made direct to BPP and will be considered in two rounds; November 2019 and April 2020.
The basic entry requirement would be a 2:1 regardless of whether the candidate comes from a law or non-law background, passing the advocacy video submission where one has to be persuasive and structured and have good references . The pathways and qualifications offered are; BTC Part One (postgrad certificate legal practice Bar Part 1), BTC Part Two (postgrad certificate legal practice Bar Part2), BTC Part One and Two ( Postgrad diploma legal practice Bar) and BTC One, Two, the professional project in law and solicitor training course part 1 (LLM Legal Practice Bar). The BTC Part One will consist of Integration of knowledge and skills throughout. Part Two will be divided into oral and written skills. You will automatically be considered for the BTC Excellence and Advocacy Scholarship amounting to £1000 if you apply before 6th April 2020.
UNIVERSITY OF LAW
The University of Law too have made changes to their course after BSB revamped the BPTC course. The University of Law has renamed their Bar training to the Bar Practice Course (BPC). The basic requirements in order to be eligible for admission is a pass in the BCAT, a 2:1 for those with a QLD or non-law degree. Offers will be given to those with a QLD based on predicted grades and will be conditional upon receiving 2:1. Those who make it through the initial paper-sift will be invited to undertake an assessment at one of their BPC campuses where one would be required to undergo a five minute 'plea in mitigation' with 40 minute preparation time and a 10 minute interview with a BPC tutor. Entry onto the course will be based solely on candidates' performance on the day.
Advocacy Scholarships will be based partly on the candidate's performance during the oral advocacy test. The BPC course is divided into the full-time or part time course.BPC LLM is also offered as a full-time or part-time course. Ten assessments with practice assessments held for every module will be carried out. The fees are as follows; for the BPC in July or September 2020 would cost £11750 for campuses outside London and £13000 in London. As for the LLM BPC, it's £14450 outside London and £16000 in London.
CITY LAW SCHOOL
Following the abolishment of the central application system, City Law School has also revamped its course and has now renamed it to the Bar Vocational Studies Program. It has also diversified its courses to include programs with an additional Masters qualification (LLM). The prerequisites for the course include having achieved a minimum of 2:2 in your QLD, having done the BCAT and having applied to be a member of the four Inns of Court by the last working day of May in the year which you plan to commence the study of your chosen program.
This course runs for a full year starting in September, with exams in January and summer of the following year. Because of the revamped system, course fees have been lowered to £16,500.
Applications can be made via the University’s online postgraduate application system. In addition to a written application, an additional selection exercise may be required. Applications and offers will be the same for all routes; you will be required to select which route you intend to study when you accept your offer. In reaching their decision the School will take into account: Degree performance (actual or predicted), evidence of intellectual ability, interpersonal skills, advocacy and public speaking skills/experience, commitment to the practice of the law, references, and English language proficiency.
There is typically around 10 to 12 hours of face-to-face teaching each week and a synch in ronous online teaching of around 4 to 6 hours per week. You will also be expected to do about 25 hours of personal study each week. Knowledge subjects are based around complex and authentic case studies or problem questions. Skills classes are based around authentic simulated case papers which reflect issues you will encounter at the Bar. To be certified as completing the Vocational Component and be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma you will be required to complete 10 compulsory modules.
The two-part program is designed for students who want to complete the vocational stage for the Bar in the shortest time possible. In Part One, modules are taught online rather than by face-to-face teaching. Part Two is a taught course, in which you will study and be assessed in the remaining eight compulsory modules. You can choose for an early July intake or March of the next academic year for Part One, and February of the next academic year or September for Part Two. Fees are £14,000 (£2,500 (Part One only - online); £11,500 (Part Two only).
CARDIFF BAR SCHOOL
Cardiff has also diversified into several programs, the most important of which is the LLM-inclusive program and the PgDip, which is the BPTC renamed. PgDip is a full-time course where lectures are recorded, and there are six people for oral skills teaching. There are 10-12 contact hours per week. During the first and second term you will be taught and assessed in the following areas: Civil litigation evidence and remedies; Criminal litigation evidence & remedies. In the final term, you will complete compulsory modules as required by the Bar Standards Board and two optional modules. The cost is £17,650 (TBC), inclusive of books & materials.
LLM-Inclusive is a full-time course where lectures are recorded, and there are six people for oral skills teaching. There are 10-12 contact hours per week. You will be introduced to legal research during term one. This will further assist you in preparing for the research module. You will attend a workshop in term two to assist you in drafting your research proposal. Thereafter you will have two supervision opportunities to receive feedback on your work. In the third term you will continue to work on the preparation of your research project. You will be formally admitted to the LLM track upon successful completion of your professional examinations. There are 12 summative assessments: four knowledge assessments, and eight skills assessments. The summative assessment of your research module comprises the submission of a written piece of work of 8,000 words. The cost is £17,650 (TBC), inclusive of books & materials.
So what are you waiting for, choose the service provider that best suits you and get cracking with your Bar Training applications and you will be one step closer to being the Barrister you aspire to be.