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Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Baroness Blackstone
Since the last edition of Regulatory Update, we have published several research reports. The first concerns consumers’ expectations and experience of working with barristers. This is an important piece of research which will help us gain a deeper insight into the experience of barristers’ clients. It complements others’ recent studies about consumers’ experience in the legal services market, and will help inform our work in various areas, in particular the review of the Code of Conduct expected of barristers. You can read more about the findings of this research in the online version of this month’s Regulatory Update.
The second piece of recently published research shows trends of retention and the changing profile of the Bar over the last 30 years. It shows that retention at the Bar continues to improve, and that the proportions of female barristers and of minority ethnic barristers continue to rise. But we remain concerned that the data show that female barristers are far more likely to leave after the early stages of their career and that barristers from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have difficulty in the early years to establish themselves professionally. We will continue to work with the profession to improve these trends.
During this period the Bar has been growing but also ageing. The number of practising barristers has grown every year from 9,541 barristers in 1990/91 to 17,351 in 2019/20, but the average age of practising barristers has risen from 38.5 years in 1990/91 to 46.5 in 2019/20. We are also concerned about the possible implications for future access to justice of this ageing of the profession brought about by strong retention and much lower recruitment to pupillage than in the 1990s.
This, too, we expect, will be a major theme of our future work. You can read more about our “Trends in retention and demographics at the Bar” report in the online version of this month’s Regulatory Update.
The third piece of research was our annual edition of the statistical information relating to student performance on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). As this report has shown in previous years, training for the Bar remains highly competitive. This year’s edition also shows clearly the impact that the health emergency has had on both the proportion of students completing the BTPC in 2019-20 and on the proportion of BPTC graduates from the 2019-20 intake proceeding to pupillage. You can read more about this in the online version of this month’s Regulatory Update.
On 29 July, we published our latest annual report summarising our activities during the 2020-21 business year – a period when the effects of the pandemic were felt in many aspects of our work. The report describes what we did in response to the national measures taken to respond to the health emergency including analysing the risks to the Regulatory Objectives, maintaining Bar training and enabling Bar students to progress their careers, and ensuring that we maintained our services and cared for the wellbeing of our people. You can read more about the 2020-21 BSB Annual Report in the online version of this month’s Regulatory Update.
Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update: