Lawyer2B Article: How to Survive the Bar Professional Training Course

Any student planning on commencing the BPTC next year should read this article by Nicola Downey. She begins with getting on the BPTC followed by an overview of what you can expect from the BPTC and its difficulty, as well as a summary of the modules you’ll be expected to study. Finally, she writes about the high and low points of the BPTC:

You have succeeded in gaining a good undergraduate degree. Many of you will also have successfully completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). You have decided that life at the bar is the right career choice for you. The next step on your career path is the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). What truly can you expect from the year that lies ahead?

Getting onto the BPTC

First on the list is ensuring your place on the BPTC in one of the many law schools across the country.

A strong academic background is important. Although the standard requirement for the completion of a UK honours degree, in either a law or non-law discipline, is a minimum of a lower second class honours, many individual law schools prefer their candidates to achieve upper second class honours at least.

For those who have a non-legal degree then successful completion of the GDL is an additional, compulsory step and one that is far from an easy ride.

Neither entry to a law degree or GDL, nor successful completion however, is a guarantee of progress onto the BPTC. Current statistics on the Bar Council website show that out of 2,657 applicants to the BPTC in the academic year 2009/2010, only 1,432 were successful.

Due to the ever increasing gap between the number of students completing the BPTC and those obtaining pupillage the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has reviewed the standards of entry to the Bar. The BSB have piloted a Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) in order to ensure that those undertaking the BPTC have the required skills to succeed.

The introduction of this test will commence in the autumn of 2012 in time for the new intake of applications for the BPTC from October of that year. This means that those students intending to take the BPTC starting in September 2013 and onwards will now be required to take the BCAT as an extended part of their application.

To give yourself the best possible chance of a place on the BPTC a hard-working mentality, strong academics, an interest in the bar and good references are therefore essential and the sooner you start thinking about your application, the better.