The route to training as a barrister has changed. From July 2020, a range of new Bar courses replace the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) as the mandatory vocational stage of training before pupillage. As universities and law schools now have more freedom to decide how their courses are taught and structured, you will find the Bar course advertised under a range of different names (eg, ‘ICCA Bar Course’, ‘Bar Practice Course’, ‘Barrister Training Course’).
This qualification (alongside being ‘called to the Bar’ by an Inn of Court) makes a Bar course graduate eligible for pupillage, the final stage of on-the-job training to qualify as a barrister.
The old BPTC application system, BarSAS, has closed. All applications for Bar courses commencing from 2020 onwards need to be made directly to the university or law school. LawCareers.Net have a list of featured course providers on their website which is a good starting point, and Chambers Student also have a comparison of providers available on their website.
All candidates must take the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT), designed to examine an applicant's chances of success at the Bar. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has made a practice Bar Course Aptitude Test.
Inns of Court
The Four Inns of Court are professional membership associations for barristers in England and Wales dedicated to promoting the rule of law and providing education and training to their student and barrister members. They each provide Scholarships, Dining Sessions (training), Advocacy training, Competitions, Lectures and Social events. An individual must be admitted as student member of an Inn in order to complete compulsory qualifying sessions.
The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple
The Honourable Society of The Middle Temple
The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn
The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
Start considering scholarship application forms early for the BTC as the deadline is November of your final year (law) or GDL year (non-law), so be prepared.
Until 2021, if you studied a non-law degree at university and want to become a solicitor or barrister, you must take a conversion course known as the Law Conversion Course (GDL, PGDL or MA Law). Search for courses via LawCareers.Net and Apply for courses via the Central Applications Board.
If you’re a non-law student join The Radcliffe Club - The University’s Law for Non-Law Society. They run events and workshops which provide opportunities for you to talk with solicitors and barristers, find out how firms differ and get tips for applications.
Most barristers' chambers ('sets') recruit pupils a year in advance, with some chambers recruit just a few months (or even weeks!) in advance. Around half of sets recruit their pupils via the Pupillage Gateway, a centralised online application system which opens in January and has a deadline in early February. Other sets recruit directly and you can find out about their individual application processes and varying deadlines in Chambers Reports or on sets' websites. All pupillage vacancies at both types of chambers are listed on the system, so wherever you plan to apply, you should start by checking the Pupillage Gateway to browse vacancies from late November.
Keep updated on the impact of COVID-19 on the legal sector and recruitment of pupillages and mini-pupillages.
Each autumn, Careers Network runs a Law Fair. Details will appear on the Careers Fairs webpage when confirmed.