News update from The Bar Council
The Bar Council provides a regular News Update on general legal issues that will be of interest to our members.
The most recent News Updates can be viewed below. If you would would like to sign up to receive this News Update by email, please contact The Bar Council.
Politics Home, Solicitors Journal, Legal Technology Insider, The Justice Gap, The Brief (premium) - Using a smartphone to plead guilty to a criminal offence may seem convenient, but the Bar Council has warned that Government plans to roll out online pleas, outlined in today’s Queen’s Speech, risk down-playing potentially serious consequences for defendants.
Responding to Government plans to introduce a Courts Bill, similar to the Prisons and Courts Bill which fell at the end of last parliament, Chair of the Bar Andrew Langdon QC said: "Defendants must be offered a genuine choice about how they enter their plea. They must also be made aware of their right to consult a lawyer. Inviting defendants to use an online procedure to indicate a plea risks trivialising potentially serious consequences for those accused of committing offences.”
Solicitors Journal – Further coverage appears of the recently published research into paid McKenzie Friends, which was commissioned by the Bar Council. The study found that most paid McKenzie Friends carried out their work outside court.
Legal Futures – Legal Futures reports that a senior lecturer, William Ralston, a former barrister based at Northumbria University, has warned that Bar students are struggling to understand ethical values because of the “massive memory test” awaiting them in the examination room, a senior lecturer has claimed.
He also questioned why anti-money laundering training does not feature in the Bar professional training course (BPTC) exam. The Legal Futures article also reports that new figures from the BSB have shown that the proportion of students failing the BPTC has fallen sharply in the last two years, from 20% to only 11%. The figures also show that the proportion of students judged ‘outstanding’ on last year’s course rose in the same period from 7% to 13.5%. However, only 37% of BPTC students who enrolled between 2011 and 2015 secured pupillages.
Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar, said that while competition at the Bar was as tough as ever, the profession was becoming increasingly diverse.
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Diversity at the Bar
Legal Futures - Supreme Court judges should question the make-up of all-male teams of barristers appearing before the highest court in the land as their prevalence is damaging diversity in the profession, researchers have argued.
The work by law academics Steven Vaughan and Chris Hanretty has highlighted the prevalence of homophily at the Supreme Court – the tendency of people to associate and bond with their own gender.
It was revealed in the research that: “Barristers appearing before the Supreme Court prefer, for whatever reason, to work with other barristers of the same sex.”
The researchers concluded that this tendency was negative for progress toward gender equality at the Bar. Progress, they argued, “relies, essentially, on exceptional women breaking through”.
Read more here.
Legal Cheek reports ‘Over 60% of BPTC grads don’t have pupillage’.
New statistics published by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) show the percentage of people enrolling on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) has decreased.
Recently released, the report shows that the hunt to bag pupillage remains as ruthless as ever. Of the BPTC grads who completed the course between 2012 and 2015 and are UK/EU domiciled, around 39% have started or completed pupillage. The percentage drops to roughly 37% when you factor in the 2016 grads.
The Bar Council’s commissioned research on McKenzie Friends continues to receive further coverage. New Law Journal writes ‘Time to nip paid McKenzie Friends in court in the bud’.
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