Where do we go from here? Routes to the Bar of England and Wales
Anyone ever wondered how many ways of admission to the Bar of England and Wales are there?
My friends, there is 6 ways in addition to the traditional overly expensive route:
i) Qualified European Lawyer
ii) Qualified Foreign Lawyer / Temporary Membership
iii) Law Teachers
iv) Qualified Solicitor
v) Qualified Professional with rights of audience by another Approved Regulator
vi) Exemption Application
(skipping Registered European Lawyer of the list as they have limited rights of audience)
Qualified European Lawyer - in addition to supplying all the necessary documents, needs to take the Bar Transfer Test unless can show that s/he should be exempt from the BTT. Pupillage is encouraged but not compulsory. New Practitioners Programme and 6 QS within 3 years of their Call to the Bar are required.
Qualified Foreign Lawyer / Temporary Call - 3 years of practice in home jurisdiction where "law is substantially similar to the common law of England and Wales". Possible exemptions from academic, vocational and possibly even professional stages of training conditional on BTT score (not relevant for temporary call). Jurisdictions deemed similar are:
· Antigua & Barbuda
· British Virgin Islands
· Cayman Islands
· Hong Kong
· Isle of Man
· New Zealand
· Northern Ireland
· Papua New Guinea
· South Africa
· Sri Lanka
· St Kitts & Nevis
· St Lucia
· St Vincent & the Grenadines
· Sri Lanka
· Trinidad & Tobago
· Turks & Caicos
· United States of America
Law Teachers - can be exempt from all three training stages. The key document besides application required is at least one set of legal academic references from Vice Chancellor or equivalent. But it is the BSB who decides whether it will grant exemption "if it thinks fit". Expectation is that the applicant will have national or international reputation in their area of research as well as the seniority standing and distinction: at least the level of Senior Lecturer within a University. Needs 9 month pupillage (likely), 6 QS (compulsory), some BTT (part B), advocacy course, practice management course and New Practitioners Programme.
Qualified Sols - those who stated out as solicitors are exempt from the academic and vocational stages. The pupillage stage will depend on length of practice as a solicitor. Needs Advocacy and Ethics parts of the BTT.
If has rights of audience in both criminal and civil then will be exempt from pupillage. 6 QS within 3 years.
An individual who stated out with BPTC qualification but then went onto the solicitors' route and fully qualified as a solicitor, might seek reduction in pupillage.
Qualified Professional with rights of audience by another Approved Regulator - these guys can be exempt from all three training stages, "if the BSB thinks fit".
Exemption Application for all other applicants - other exemptions not covered above are also possible and here also the BSB decides what needs or does not need to be done in order to meet the competencies threshold. Not much guide on this on as it is reserved for the wide-ranging nature of any potential exceptional circumstances.
NB: in some parts of the US and in some European countries it is possible for individuals who have been prosecutors' or judicial assistants or court clerks (for instance for period of 4 years) to be able to take the bar exams and be called to the Bar. Could this BSB's "catch-all" exception provision also cover such routes?
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