updated on 14 November 2023
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Barrister apprenticeships are set to be introduced next year in an effort to improve access to the profession. It’s hoped that the proposed new route to qualification will enable aspiring barristers to earn while they learn, avoiding the costly fees required to attend university and then Bar school.
Like the solicitor apprenticeship, the barrister programme will take six years to complete, with the cost of academic training funded by the government’s apprenticeship levy, as well as the chambers employing the barrister apprentice.
The barrister apprenticeship, which is expected to be launched by 2024, is currently being designed by a collaborative group, which includes:
Currently, to qualify as a barrister students must complete vocational and work-based training elements. This existing route comes at a significant cost, with fees for university sitting at £9,250 and up to £19,000 for Bar school.
Aspiring solicitors have been able to qualify via the apprenticeship route since 2016 at many firms. Like the solicitor apprenticeship, this proposed new route to qualifying as a barrister is being designed to offer a more affordable, flexible route to the Bar, opening the door to a more diverse group of people.
Tim Coulson, former chambers’ chief executive, explains that barrister apprentices will still need to complete the law degree and the Bar vocational course. However, they’d do this over a course of six years while working. He adds: “Any talk about dumbing down is a myth. Apprentice barristers will have to meet the same rigorous standards as someone who got a double first from Cambridge.”