Exclusive: Plans gathering pace
Barrister apprenticeships could be available as early as April next year, Legal Cheek can reveal.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) features a listing on its website for a Level 7 barrister apprenticeship similar to that already available to would-be solicitors.
Legal Cheek understands the barrister apprenticeship will be considered for approval from next Friday (28 October) and could be live by April 2024, although this fully depends on the uptake of training providers and employers.
A spokesperson for the IfATE told Legal Cheek:
“IfATE welcomes this proposal for a barrister apprenticeship which could be game changing for opening out the profession to people from more diverse backgrounds. We look forward to working with expert employers, including barristers’ chambers across England, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Bar Standards Board, and Bar Council, on developing this further.”
The trailblazer group of employers who are designing the apprenticeship, including setting out what knowledge, skills and behaviours apprentices will have to learn, includes representatives from the likes of Trinity Chambers, St Philips Chambers, Cornwall Street Chambers, Clerksroom, and 33 Bedford Row as well as the Crown Prosecution Service, Government Legal Department and Ministry of Justice.
The idea of bringing apprenticeships to the bar has been floated for a number of years now. In 2021, lawyer Michaela Hardwick argued the path remained a “viable option” but barriers would need to be overcome, and this would require collaboration between the bar, the regulator and training providers.
By comparsion, solicitor apprenticeships have been available since 2016 and see candidates complete a six-year mix of legal work and classroom studying. Their popularity has rocketed in recent years with a number of big firms, including Magic Circle and elite US players, now offering the TC alternative.