Life at the Bar · Oxbridge

Integrity – The Deadline Passes

fear_poster_med1The Deadline expired at 12 noon. So far I have heard nothing.

I will keep you posted.

Close of business: Still nothing. Except that the blog has had it’s highest number of hits ever for one day. Panem et circenses – everyone likes to spectate at a fight. But thank you Mr Foster…

9:15 am. More than 700 hits yesterday but not even a letter from Mr Foster. More like this now –homer_the_scream

8:40am. Nada. Passover is tonight so there will be nothing until Sunday. Enjoy your holiday.

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14 thoughts on “Integrity – The Deadline Passes

  1. Android’s posting of 4 April for some reason assumes I work for OTC – you are wrong, nor am I associated with them in any way.

    I am an independent observer/contributor who is fascinated by this behaviour and the closed shop nature of the Bar.

    Does it bother any of the BVC students that between £295 and £345 (Source: BVC review Work Group 2008) of your fees have been used to subsidise the cost of Barristers practicing certificates? (1750 students X £295 = over half a million pounds this year alone); And that for the past 4 years around 1000 newly qualified BVC students per year have not achieved pupillage; that this year well over £20,000,000 (20 million) in course fees have been invested by you BVC students, and you now compete for a mere 400 pupillages this year – with how many other aspirants – maybe upto 5000? (Only curtailed by the 5 year rule). It certainly bothers me.

    Lets hope Lord Neubergers recommendations are actually implemented and assist you and future BVC students! – but not before 2010!

    Relevance! I hear you cry. Well the Bar, in major part, are responsible for the above and are in turn responsible for creating a market for paid assistance to aspirants.

    Thank you for allowing me to express my view – apologies to Android, like SMQC I believe in what I say, am proud of it and will continue.

  2. I ought to say that the IP addresses of OTC and managechange are not the same.

    This is really a subject for another time, and I agree with quite a lot of it. However, the line between exploitation of aspirants and free access to the chance to enter the profession is neither acknowledged nor debated in the above comment.

    Of course some part of the BVC students’ fees goes to the profession, which verifies the course and grants access. That is neither surprising nor contentious. To portray it as subsidising barristers’ practising certificates is overly simplistic and emotive to boot.

    The BVC has never come with a guarantee of pupillage. My concern is not that. It is that too many people with what is essentially the reverse guarantee – i.e. they will not get pupillage – are still being encouraged to apply. That is where I draw the line between access and exploitation. But the fact that not every BVC student gets a pupillage is a commonplace and means nothing.

    The Bar has absolutely not created a market in paid assistance to aspirants. What OTC do is not assistance. Managechange, in not even acknowledging that point as a question, does himself (herself?) no favours. This is a competitive profession – entry and practice alike. That is no excuse for cheating to get in.

  3. We Bar Students are fully aware of the risks we take in purposefully choosing to train as Barristers, ManageChange, and I would question your figures with relation to the numbers who fail to secure pupillage in any given year, since some return to home jurisdictions in which to practice, while some opt not to go any further and pursue a different path. It is true that some will never attain pupillage but then it might be that they should never have undertaken the BVC to begin with, swept away, as they are, by the Kavanagh factor and an assumption that it is an easy job that pays bucketloads of wonga. Most of the time, it is not and does not. In this respect one hopes that the much vaunted Bar Aptitude Test will go some way to redressing such beliefs though I am concerned that this will become the focus of yet another service provided by OTC.

  4. So what do OTC actually do to imrove the current situation? Provide opportunities for people who don’t deserve them?

  5. i’m very slightly grateful to them for showing me something i already knew (in longwinded and badly-edited prose to boot).
    if i can tell people something they probably already know, the way to change a system is not by whingeing from the outside.
    now if i can try and get on with my career while they earn loadsa money from a bunch of saps, i will be happy.

  6. I am being asked by applicants, interviewers and advisors, who do not want to do anything wrong, where the line differentiating between ‘assistance’ and ‘cheating’ is drawn .

    SMQC do you know if the BC/BSB are looking at publishing guidance on this or if it already exists? I think guidance on this would be useful and constructive; I also believe the BC/BSB are the right people to publish this guidance to ensure consistency.

    James C, I agree Simon did not invent the crazy system; indeed I personally know that if it were not for SMQC the system would be slightly crazier and I support his efforts in trying to correct its imperfections.

    Android, to answer your question about what OTC do to improve things. OTC have improved the situation by bringing competition to the market. I know from personal experience that as a response to the OTC situation the providers are making efforts to improve the support and assistance to BVC students from this point onwards, so improving the service aspirants receive – this has to be a good thing.

    Although, I disagree with some of OTC’s services I am not convinced running them out of town is the answer.

  7. The real question should be why are people even using OTC when they can get free advice?

    What do they believe they are getting out of the service that cannot be given by their lecturers/tutors/Inns of Court officers?

    If it is just that they cannot be bothered to do their own work in constructing an application, then they obviously shouldn’t go to the Bar. No one is going to do the work for you there either.

    Most Universities have some sort of Careers programme and BVC providers have a pupillage advisor. Wouldn’t it be better to go to them freely rather than pay couple of K?

    What can OTC really do apart from just write a form that others are too lazy to do?

    I agree with Manage Change that OTC have now made sure that the Bar is trying to change and give more help. However I have never and would never have the need assistance of OTC, because the barristers/lecturers I know are more than happy to check any applications.

    Perhaps it isn’t the same for everyone?

  8. I’d like to chime in with a couple of points if I may.

    1. OTC is part of Oxbridge Essays who I have known about for several years. The essays company is older and more established than OTC. There are many essay companies on the internet, including UK essays, which is run by a member of Gray’s Inn! I would safely assume John Foster makes most of his money from essays.

    2. These companies would cease to exist if rules were brought in such that companies who write essays and job application materials were required to publish the contact details of their customers.

    3. If you want to get at John Foster, start a peititon to regulate essay-writing companies, get the universities to all sign it, create some publicity and send it to your MP.

    3. No client confidentiality = no OTC.

    4. The BVC costs £12,000. That is a rip-off. Tutors at the BVC institutions are paid far more than tutors at other universities and this is not justified. Why should one have to pay £12,000 for a rubbish education in order to stand a chance to get pupillage? Why can’t we follow the US system.

    I repeat, Neuberger should take a hard look at the US system.

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