Newly qualified barristers benefit from regular guidance by experienced practitioners but levels of support vary
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published research about the effectiveness of its rules that require newly qualified barristers with less than three years’ standing to have readily available access to an experienced practitioner – a Qualified Person (QP) – for support and guidance.
The research found that the levels of contact, support and advice available to newly qualified barristers vary considerably and that, unsurprisingly the arrangement was considered more valuable by those who had received more guidance from a QP. The findings also suggest that should a more prescribed approach be introduced by the regulator, it could well deter current QPs from taking up an equivalent role in the future.
The BSB conducted this research through an online survey and received views from both newly qualified barristers and barristers currently acting as a QP. The survey focused on the level and type
of support received or provided as part of the arrangement, the frequency of contact between barristers and QPs, and views on the usefulness and proportionality of the arrangement.
The research found that:
- face to face meetings are the most common form of contact between QPs and newly qualified barristers;
- a majority of QPs (but a minority of new practitioners) stated they had regular meetings lasting over 30 minutes as part of their QP arrangement;
- a large majority said that guidance on the law was the most common form of advice given as part of the QP arrangement;
- a majority of QPs said that they provided advice on advocacy, but a majority of new practitioners said that they had not received advice in this area;
- a minority of QPs and new practitioners said that advice on the new practitioner’s performance formed part of the arrangement;
- a majority of QPs felt that the requirement was helpful for new practitioners whilst the majority of new practitioners stated that the requirement was not helpful;
- the majority of new practitioners who had received advice on their performance or had regular face to face meetings as part of their QP arrangement felt the QP requirement was helpful; in
contrast, the majority of new practitioners who did not have regular meetings with their QP felt it was not helpful; and most respondents said that the Alternative Qualified Person (AQP) requirement – when new practitioners do not have a suitable QP within their principal place of practice, the BSB can approve an arrangement for AQP who has a different place of practice from the barrister – was both helpful and proportionate but nearly half of QPs said that the additional stipulations of an AQP agreement would deter them from acting as an AQP.
Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: “Our research suggests that the level of support made available to newly qualified barristers by QPs varies considerably and that this influences how positively new practitioners think about the requirement. We will use this research to aide our future policy work around barristers in their early years of practice as well as our review later in the year into the rules governing the scope of barristers’ practice. We are grateful to all those who completed the survey.”
You can read a summary of the research here.
You can read the full research document here.
About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t
About the Qualified Person (QP) requirement
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) Handbook requires that barristers of under three years’ standing should have a more experienced barrister appointed to give them guidance when they exercise rights of audience, supply legal services to the public, conduct litigation or undertake Public Access work. That more experienced barrister is known as a “Qualified Person” (QP).
About the Alternative Qualified Person (AQP)
When new practitioners do not have a suitable QP within their principal place of practice, the BSB can approve an arrangement for AQP, ie a QP who has a different place of practice from the barrister. The requirements for an AQP are more prescriptive than those for a QP. More information on these requirements can be found in the full research report.